Because we don't want to poll over Memorial Day weekend we put our second to last Virginia primary poll in the field last night, and we'll release it Friday or Saturday.
We decided to look at the race this week in a new way: how are the folks who pretty much always vote in primaries leaning versus the preferences of people who turned out last year for the Presidential primary but did not vote in one of the primaries between 2005 and 2007?
A pretty clear divide is emerging. Among the frequent primary voters Terry McAuliffe, Brian Moran, and Creigh Deeds are basically in a three way statistical tie based on the interviews conducted so far. But among the more casual primary voters who did not find Webb-Miller compelling enough to head to the polls but who are intending to come out this time McAuliffe has a substantial lead.
PPP's polling, at least, confirms the intuition of political observers here in the Commonwealth.
I can't help but wonder, however, whether that lead simply reflects McAuliffe's relatively large ad buys and the greater name recognition that flows from it. If these are the voters on which he is relying for a victory, good luck.
Another factor that has been on my mind lately is not only the overall turnout, but the distribution of the turnout. One factor here would be the presence of a local primary that attracts voters -- cvillelaw discusses this in an interesting comment over at Blue Commonwealth.
But it is also true that in a number of special and local elections up in NoVA, lately, it seems as if Democratic turnout, in particular, has been weak -- it is just a sense I get from the anecdotal reporting of unexpected electoral disasters and near-disasters that seem to have been occurring up there.
On the other hand, a recent firehouse Democratic primary in Charlottesville to elect candidates for the city council and sherrif drew nearly 1,700 people, a unexpectedly large throng for this small, albeit World class, city. And in those areas of the Commonwealth where unemployment runs high and the economy is in serious trouble, like Southside and areas of Southwest Virginia, where there is greater economic insecurity and uncertainty, in general, and where state government will have a greater direct impact on peoples' lives, if not their survival, voters may naturally turn out in greater numbers.