Saturday, October 24, 2009

Deeds' Identity Problem

Given the grumbling about Creigh Deeds' conservative leaning stances on some issues among many Virginia Democrats, you might be surprised to know that 46% of voters in the state think he's a liberal to 48% who think he's a moderate.

Here's the problem though: conservatives think he's a liberal, but liberals don't. Whenever that's the case you have an identity problem with your candidacy.

Among Virginians who describe themselves as liberals only 16% put Deeds into that category- not much more than the 10% of them who think that's he a conservative.

Now this isn't that big of a problem for Deeds with the liberal voters who are actually planning to show up- he has a 95-4 lead with them. But it is an issue with how many are showing up. Exit polls last year showed them accounting for 21% of the Virginia electorate. They only make up 16% of likely voters this year. That's almost a 25% drop in their share of the electorate.

Now let's look at the conservatives. 73% of them think that Deeds is a liberal, and only 10% of them have a favorable opinion of him. By comparison only 49% of them Mark Warner is a liberal and 24% think he's doing a good job in the Senate. 24% isn't a ton of crossover support but it's enough to have been elected Governor and Senator in a pretty competitive state.

Deeds hasn't been able to convince independent and Republican voters that he's a centrist and that's kept him from getting the sort of support that Warner and to a lesser extent Tim Kaine have received from them. At the same time he hasn't made folks on the left side of the spectrum feel he identifies with them either. When all that's true victory is a struggle.

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