Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thoughts on Sabatogate

Larry Sabato got a lot of attention yesterday for saying that Creigh Deeds campaign manager Joe Abbey has been demoted, a claim that the campaign has said isn't true.

I can't speak to any of that one way or the other but one thing Sabato wrote that really caught my attention was the suggestion that Deeds' primary victory was engineered by Washington Post editorials and not Abbey or Deeds.

What a ridiculous suggestion. Who put together the message and presentation to convince the Post to endorse a candidate from out in the country running last in the polls over two opponents from northern Virginia? You think Deeds himself might have had something to do with pulling off that surprise endorsement? Saying that a candidate getting a surprise endorsement has nothing to do with the candidate is a bizarre claim.

As for Abbey's side of the equation- the reason the endorsement had such a large impact was that the campaign did an extremely effective job of milking it for all it was worth through television ads, direct mail, and signs. The fact that they held onto their money and didn't panic when the polls didn't look so hot gave the campaign the resources to run tv ads touting the endorsement during the final week. Receiving an endorsement in and of itself will not take you too far- what you do with it determines how effective it is. The Deeds campaign, under Abbey's management, did a great job of making it a vote generator.

When Virginia last had a competitive Democratic primary- for the Senate in 2006- the Washington Post endorsement didn't propel Harris Miller to victory.

I don't know about the rest of what Sabato said but suggesting that Creigh Deeds had nothing to do with Creigh Deeds winning a primary victory that no one expected even four weeks before the election is quite a stretch.

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