Mapping Democratic Primary Shifts in Virginia

In the first Democratic primary for Virginia governor in ages, the boy from Bath County embarrassed the two guys from NoVA.  Creigh Deeds won a strong 50% over Terry McAuliffe’s 26% and Brian Moran’s 24%.  What’s striking is that he won ten out of 11 congressional districts, even beating Moran 43-40% in his brother’s district, the 8th, and losing only the majority black 3rd, held by Rep. Bobby Scott, to Terry.

A few interesting points:

  • Talk about a base - In Criegh’s home county and three surrounding counties - Bath, Allegheny, Highland and Rockbridge - 4398 votes were cast. 4091 were for Creigh.  In all of Highland County, for example, Moran got only 3 votes while Creigh received over 1200.
  • Creigh won Clinton voters - Remember the Obama-Clinton map where Clinton won everywhere west of the Blue Ridge and Obama won the urban crescent? Well, it’s clear that Creigh won many of those same Clinton voters.
  • Dissecting the Obama coalition - Creigh will have no problem winning the Prius drivers in Arlington and Alexandria who are true blue Dems and lovingly supported Jim Webb despite some conservative views. What Creigh needs to worry about is the other leg of the Obama coalition - African-American voters in Richmond, Southside and Tidewater.
  • Terry won the black vote - Terry won a plurality in Bobby Scott’s district that stretches from the Seven Cities up to east Richmond. I remember Terry’s early ads were at the Newport News shipyard, and he later visited Hampton with Will.i.am. He needed to do really well there, not just win a plurality.
  • Don’t sleep on C’Ville - Charlottesville and Albemarle are major bastions of liberal Democratic votes. The fact that Creigh’s state Senate seat covers these communities gave him a strong start in this crucial pocket.
  • The WaPo effect - Most armchair pundits think Creigh won because of his Washington Post endorsement. In reality, Creigh locked up downstate voters with cheap TV ads early and only contested NoVA once he got the endorsement. He wasn’t scheduled to appear at the VA FREE lunch until he won the WaPo nod, and his signs cropped up virtually overnight up here.
  • A balanced ticket - My sources tell me that Gov. Tim Kaine is psyched about the geographic balance of the ticket - A Gov candidate from the hills, an LG candidate from the Beach, and an AG candidate from the NoVA burbs.  Republicans, for their part, also boast a balanced ticket with VA Beach, Richmond and Fairfax County all represented.
  • What about NoVA? - For the second gubernatorial election in a row, both parties elected candidates from outside NoVA.  So will the ad wars be fought in Roanoke, Richmond and Hampton Roads, or will they spend the big money in Washington?
  • The Clintons just don’t play well in VA - Bill Clinton never won Virginia, despite taking a number of border states, including West Virginia and Kentucky.  Hillary got smoked here. And Bill’s right hand man Terry ultimately failed.  Maybe those Clinton robocalls hurt more than they helped?
  • The engine of VA - Virginia’s economic success has a big part to do with the booms in Fairfax, Loudoun, Price William and Henrico counties - Creigh won all of these, just like Kaine did in the ‘05 general and Obama did in the ‘08 general.

So how will Creigh Deeds stack up against Bob McDonnell?  That’s the subject of another post, but it’s clear that the map is going to be dynamic and scrambled and that the battlegrounds will be constantly evolving.  NoVA, which accounts for one out of every seven votes in Virginia, is obviously the big prize, but Deeds will certainly try to make inroads in McDonnell’s base in Hampton Roads and we can bet on McDonnell going for the F-150 Democrats in Creigh’s neck of the woods.  Let the games begin.

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