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PPP: McAuliffe's Lead is Substantial but Soft

by: Kenton Ngo

Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:26:35 PM EDT

TOPLINES PPP (740 LV, 3/27-29)
          05/05 03/30 03/01 02/01
McAuliffe   30    18   21    18
Moran       20    22   19    18
Deeds       14    15   14    11
Undec.      36    45   46    53
            05/05 03/30 03/01
Wagner       18     21    9
Signer        7     4     5
Bowerbank     6     4     2
Edmonson      -     4     6
Savage        -     -     4
Undec.       69    67    73
          05/05 03/30 03/01 02/01
Moran     39/11 34/15 30/14 34/10
McAuliffe 42/25 32/29 31/24 30/24
Deeds     33/11 31/12 26/10 23/11  
          276 434 540 703 757 804
Moran      -6  -5 -11  -2  -2  +3
McAuliffe  +3 +14  +5  +7 +19 +13
Deeds     +10 -15  +5  -1  -2  -2
Undecided  -7  -4  -1  -7 -12 -13
          276 434 540 703 757 804
SAMPLE %    4  12  17  29  17  21
Moran       0   5   7  43  14  16
McAuliffe  22  37  24  23  35  38
Deeds      17  15  30  10   8  10
Undecided  61  43  38  25  42  37
As I have feared, Terry McAuliffe's African-American gambit is working for now. Terry is leading because, based on regional favorable splits, he is the only one who voters have an opinion on in Hampton Roads and Richmond. He leads now--but if HR and Richmond voters finally hear from Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds, will that soft support fade away?

I wrote this in January when Terry went on the air in AA-targeted stations:

This statewide primary comes with a peculiar twist of fate that will affect the electoral calculus--of the 6 candidates involved in primaries, not one is black. When a black candidate runs in a statewide Democratic primary, the black vote moves nearly in lockstep to them, and turnout in black localities shoots up. The net effect of this was to dilute the vote of Northern Virginia. By gunning for support in black areas, McAuliffe has a shot at overcoming Moran's base in Northern Virginia.
As you can see to the left, the only change seems to be a McAuliffe surge in 434, 757, and 804, all heavy with African-Americans. In late March, Brian Moran led Terry McAuliffe among African-American voters 15%-14%. Now McAuliffe leads Moran by an astonishing 37%-15%. The distribution of undecided voters as an absolute percentage of the electorate is as follows:

Remaining Voters Out by Area Code
276 2.4%
434 5.2%
540 6.5%
703 7.3%
757 7.1%
804 7.8%
Total Undecided 36%

What this means, for example, is that 7.3% of all voters are undecideds living in the 703 area code. The three "rural" area codes (276, 434, 540) comprise one third of the undecideds, and the three "urban" area codes evenly split the remaining two thirds. Despite the fact that only 25% of 703 voters are undecided, they make up the same portion of the electorate as the 42% in 757 because of 703's massive population advantage.

Based on this distribution, Brian Moran still has a fighting chance based on the fact that if he wins a majority of undecideds in 703 (as he likely will), it gives him breathing room in the rural area codes. He will, however, need to stanch the bleeding in the two remaining urban area codes to survive. Even if Creigh Deeds locks up every single remaining rural area code vote, it only brings him to 28%.

But this race is far from over: there is one trouble spot for Terry McAuliffe in Richmond and Hampton Roads.

Since over 40% of primary voters say they can still change their mind, Moran and Deeds can win only if the peel off some McAuliffe support, as there aren't enough undecideds remaining for either of them to win (unless one disappears). Both Deeds and Moran hold very high net favorability in their home regions, but over 60% of Hampton Roads and over 50% of Richmond voters have no opinion of them. In contrast, Terry McAuliffe has 50% and 44% net favorability respectively, and fewer than a third have no opinion of him in both regions.

Bottom line: Creigh Deeds just went on the air, and Brian Moran still has time. Moran will lock up Northern Virginia undecideds, and Deeds and Moran might begin to start picking away at McAuliffe's support in Richmond and Hampton Roads once their name recognition goes up. It's not done yet.

Kenton Ngo :: PPP: McAuliffe's Lead is Substantial but Soft
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Problem for Moran/Deeds is that of the African American voters polled 78% said they were "Solidly Committed".

Oh snap!
That is quite a change from the last poll.  I think it is quite the leap to say definitively Moran will lock up NoVA undecideds.  I can't speak for anyone other than myself, but I have kicked around the idea of not casting a vote in the gubernatorial race and just voting the Lt. Governor's race.  You know know just let someone else make the choice for me since I can't decide.  Though by the time primary day rolls around, I may have made up mind on who I think is the best to beat McDonnell.

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