Friday, June 5, 2009

Women and African Americans key in Virginia

With just four days until the primary in Virginia, our final look at the undecideds finds that women and African Americans could hold the balance of power.

While we project 57% of primary voters overall to be women, 66% of the ones who reported being undecided in our last poll are. We've been saying all the way since February that none of these candidates was getting a leg up with that highly important Democratic primary demographic, and although Terry McAuliffe did have a solid lead with them in some of our May polling that's disappeared along with his overall lead. It's surprising the campaigns didn't do more to effectively target female voters.

We see 29% of voters on Tuesday being African Americans, but their accounting for 40% of the undecideds. I would not be surprised if black turnout ended up being more like 25% given how little the candidates seem to have caught on, and that's something the eventual nominee is going to have figure out for the fall or else it's going to be awfully difficult to beat Bob McDonnell. At some point it looked like black voters were going to be a boon to McAuliffe but now Brian Moran has tied it up with them and Creigh Deeds isn't nearly as far back as he was a month ago.

We still see a disproportionate number of conservative Democrats undecided- 29% compared to 15% of the overall electorate. That seems like it would work to Deeds' benefit, but like with black voters you have to consider the possibility that if none of the candidates have captured the attention of these voters yet they might just not turn out. It also makes you wonder if Moran's attacking Deeds for not being sufficiently progressive might have the highly unintended effect of helping him with this disproportionately undecided segment of voters.

One final note on the undecideds- as has consistently been the case there are a lot fewer of them in northern Virginia than anywhere else. That would seem to bode poorly for Moran's prospects. The largest segment of them is in Hampton Roads, so while metro DC may be getting a lot of attention this week, the contest could well be decided in Norfolk and Virginia Beach rather than Arlington and Alexandria.

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