A little over a year ago, Barack Obama won Virginia and put the Old Dominion into the Democratic column of the electorate college for the first time since LBJ. How did he do it? By surging ahead of John Kerry's 2004 performance. Barack Obama received over half a million more votes than John Kerry while John McCain finished about 8,000 votes ahead of George W. Bush. New voters made up about 13% of Virginia voters in 2008 and they favored Barack Obama over John McCain 63% to 35%.
A funny thing about 2008 though. Among the voters that had voted before, Obama edged out McCain according to the exit polls 50% to 49%. That's close! A lot closer than Bush's defeat of Kerry in 2004. Even without the new voters, Obama did a very good job at picking up Republicans who had voted for Bush.
Now take a look at the latest Survay USA poll showing Bob McDonnell ahead of Creigh Deeds by almost twenty points! Look at how they peg the 2008 election among those actually voting in 2009: Obama 47%, McCain 48%. That's pretty much an even split.
So what's happened in 2009? Obama's coalition of young voters and African-Americans aren't showing up at the polls. The result is an electorate that's pretty well split. But the problem for Deeds is that the Obama Republicans are coming home!
Check out "Deeds Country" first. Only 6% of McCain voters are supporting Deeds, a total of less than 3% of the electorate! McDonnell? He's picking up 15% of Obama voters, or 7% of voters. The Obama Republicans are coming home!
Why? It's not because McDonnell is a liberal. He's running a strong conservative campaign. I can relate to how, after eight years of George W. Bush, even some Republicans were suffering from a GOP fatigue. Bush did not live up to all of my expectations and I am still disappointed in how he handled some issues like Katrina and overall federal spending. When you consider how fast the economy was collapsing last year, it's understandable that some Republicans voted for Obama out of disgust with the party. McDonnell has shown them that they have every reason to be proud of the Republican Party again, or at least his Republican Party of Virginia. Future candidates in 2010 will also have to prove their conservative credentials.