Sunday, October 18, 2009
Bob McDonnell: Invisible With No Secrets to Conceal
The Washington Post’s endorsement of Creigh this morning (see Hokie Guru's post here) hits the nail right on the head when it comes to articulating why Creigh is the clearly superior choice to Bob McDonnell to be our next governor.
While I don’t typically subscribe to the notion that newspaper editorials make a huge difference in voters’ decisions – voters have a nasty habit for reaching their own decisions for their own reasons – I think this one will resonate for the remainder of the campaign and make a huge difference.
Not because the WaPo chose to endorse Creigh over McDonnell – that was expected – but because while the right-of-center Post editorial board tried to argue that its differences with Bob McDonnell “are on questions of policy,” they are barely able to hide the clear disdain they feel for the GOP candidate and the campaign he has run.
Consider the following characterizations of McDonnell from the editorial:
-- “Mr. McDonnell has staked out the intolerant terrain on his party's right wing[.]
-- “Mr. McDonnell lacks … political spine[.]”
-- “Mr. McDonnell … remains in denial.”
-- “Virginians should not confuse Mr. McDonnell's adept oratory for wisdom[.]”
And, of course, the worst cut of all:
-- “He is a dexterous politician.”
As this race has wound down to its final weeks, the question hanging heavy in the air for Democrats is whether Creigh can win it, in light of the numerous polls showing McDonnell beating him. The state’s Republicans are already filling Cabinet posts.
They should wait.
I’m not interested in arguing about the methodologies or results of these polls, and I don’t quibble that their internals are consistent with the overall results, although I would argue that this consistency is derived from the potential flaw all these polls share.
The question surrounding these polls is the extent to which their likely voter screens are accurately predicting who will show up on Election Day. In that regard, these polls do not so much show a persuadable electorate that is choosing McDonnell over Creigh as much as they suggest an electorate that has been stacked against Creigh from the start.
On the one hand, these polls may be accurate gauging an electorate ready to turn on Democrats as a result of various political and social forces largely beyond the control of either candidate in the race, and capturing the vicissitudes of the national discussion and political scene.
But given Virginia’s recent electoral history demonstrating a clear trend towards Democrats (even discounting 2008 as an once-in-a-lifetime election), and the circumstances of this specific race, the evidence suggests that that these polls are wrong because they are flying in the face of common sense.
It is not that I am unaware that many of my fellow Virginians simply see the issues and candidates from a different, more conservative perspective, than I do. There are loyal Republicans and Conservative ideologues that would vote for McDonnell even if it were proved he regularly engaged in bestiality.
I don’t even argue with Republicans comprising a larger share of likely voters than Democrats, even though this is not consistent with the trend either in Virginia or nationally, to the extent that this denotes some sort of enthusiasm gap.
Rather, it is the dominance McDonnell is showing in these polls among self-described Independents – even Conservative-leaning ones – that simply doesn’t track with the facts of the race, or the reality of each candidate so adeptly captured today by the Washington Post.
According to the Post, McDonnell has run “a disciplined, focused, policy-oriented campaign.” Perhaps. But as the Post makes clear, he has also run a dishonest and cowardly campaign.
I think it is hard for voters, confronted with this, to admit that it is really happening. Can any even slightly informed person actually believe Bob McDonnell is a moderate on the issue of choice or gay rights, as he pretends to be?
I have faith that when presented with the facts, independent-minded voters will make the right decisions. On issue after issue – transportation, education, the environment, the right to choose, anti-gay discrimination – analysis of the candidates’ positions and records demonstrate that Bob McDonnell will be a disaster for Virginia.
That is the fundamental issue in this race. And it is because the Post editorial so clearly explains this truth that it will resonate across the Commonwealth.