I've had several people ask me about the new Rasmussen Virginia Governor general election match ups poll, which shows Bob McDonnell leading all Democratic challengers. Just two months ago Rasmussen had McDonnell trailing Brian Moran, tied with Creigh Deeds, and leading Terry McAuliffe by a small margin. What could have happened in such a short time to cause the reverse?
I think the answer here is in the timing of the poll being conducted. It was done Wednesday night. McDonnell resigned as Attorney General Tuesday and that was all over local tv news casts Tuesday, and then all over the state's newspapers on Wednesday. That level of exposure is unusual for a 24 hour media cycle this far out from November, and I bet it helped McDonnell to lead in the poll. I certainly don't think there was any nefarious intent in the timing of the poll but that sort of thing does have an impact.
We will test the hypothetical general election contests at some point, but probably not until April or May when the Democratic campaigns have become more active. Even then though, take it with a grain of salt. It is a spirited primary contest, and as we saw last year Democrats who support one candidate may not commit to supporting another candidate in a poll before the nominee is selected. We eventually got on the same page nationally last year and hopefully we will in Virginia by July or August this year as well.