Deeds Slams McDonnell on Abortion

As predicted on Bearing Drift, Deeds for Governor has gone on the attack, says this morning’s Washington Post.

Let’s just cut to the chase — why is Deeds doing this?  A skeptical WaPo gets straight to the heart of the matter:

Deeds’s appeal is directed at moderate suburbanites in Northern Virginia and elsewhere who might be turned off by McDonnell’s views. It’s also an attempt to rally support from Democrats who have joined Virginia’s electorate in recent years but who might be ambivalent about Deeds because of his relatively conservative positions on guns and other issues.

Before the PPP poll came out, Deeds was tied amongst rural voters, losing women voters, and losing even the suburbs.

So how do you turn back losses in demographics no Democrat should be losing?  By holding a rural tour one week, and have Deeds perform a negative attack campaign to get the attention of suburban women the next week.  Next week, it’ll be something else.

Simple, isn’t it?

Will it work?  We won’t know until the next big poll, though early outward appearances seem to show the Deeds tour through Southwest Virginia Bath County was a disaster.

Convincing women that McDonnell is somehow out of the mainstream on abortion is like one horse bucking a national freight train.  Gallup polls are showing Americans to be majority pro-life for the first time in the history of modern polling.

Deeds will perceptibly fail at this effort as well.  He can’t keep attacking McDonnell on it forever, and Deeds will be forced to move on.  To wit:

“I think he’s got to be cautious about opening that line of attack,” said Del. David E. Poisson, a Democrat who won his Loudoun County district in 2005 against an opponent who was largely defined by his opposition to abortion. Poisson said the key to his victory was respectfully steering clear of the issue in favor of a discussion of roads and schools.

“The thing you worry about when you start going down that path is you look as small as the argument,” said Poisson, who backed former delegate Brian J. Moran over Deeds for the Democratic nomination.

What should concern Democratic analysts is the fact that Deeds for Governor has yet to find a single theme to hammer on.  Mike Henry is doing all the great things that a campaign should have done in June when Deeds won the nomination… but in a compressed time frame where it is far too late to have an impact.

Deeds can do one of three things at this point:

  1. Go negative, go hardcore negative, don’t look back. McDonnell has yet to be defined with about a fifth of the electorate, though the Virginia rightosphere saw this one coming from a mile away.  Though the one-a-week theme may get old quick, Deeds will more than likely find one major issue that strikes home (hint: it’s not abortion, fellas) and find two ancillary issues to follow up.  Prediction?  I’d hit on taxes, clean tech jobs (no fast food jobs), and education as a sacred cow.  That first one is a bit of a jump for Deeds who has already pledged to put tax hikes on the table, but Deeds has to reassure Virginians somehow on the issue.  Also look for a Democratic leftosphere unleashed on the negative attacks… and anything will go.
  2. Take a page from the Mark Warner playbook. Get to as many public events as humanly possible, and establish yourself as the accessible, likable, grassroots guy who may very well be looking for a job just like the rest of us.  Deeds doesn’t necessarily have an issue with regards to connecting with Virginians — I think he does so rather well — but he certainly hasn’t been anywhere near as visible as Warner or Kaine.
  3. Get the Democratic blogosphere re-engaged. Let’s face it — where is Lowell Feld in this campaign?  Blue Virginia (and he has to know this on some level) is a terrible platform for Lowell.  Go around to the rest… there is no major hub for the Dems anymore.  On the right, the orchestra of Jeffersoniad bloggers — Bearing Drift and Virginia Virtucon being the baddest blogs on the block — are the best insurance policy McDonnell has so far, and it’s totally a grassroots effort.

Now obviously, a combination of all three is called for… or uncalled for, depending on your viewpoint.  Still, the fact that Deeds is in trouble with certain constituencies that he should not be in trouble is a bad, bad sign as we get into the dog days of summer.

As for Republicans, McDonnell has masterfully cornered the market on the “jobs, jobs, jobs” theme.  Fears of a split between conservatives and the McDonnell camp have largely dissipated now that Cuccinelli provides the outlet for that activism.  So long as McDonnell’s staff continues to shoot straight and the Jeffersoniad bloggers put out the small fires — of which this latest Deeds strategy is but one — Deeds is going to find himself in a tough, tough place come October unless the strategy changes.

UPDATE:  Michael Bertone over at the DC Examiner calls the ploy a “desperation strategy” for Deeds, while over at Blue Virginia our friend Lowell doesn’t know if I complimented or insulted him.  No worries Lowell… it was a compliment.

UPDATEx2:  VA Blogger over at TC asks the question how Martinsville at 20% unemployment is going to care about this, while Chris Beer over at Mason Conservative muses on how Creigh Deeds loves him some abortion:

This speaks to the inherent weakness of Deeds, though.  Nobody is buying that he’s a Warner-Kaine “moderate,” and McDonnell has used the lat five months to become the candidate of the kitchen-table issues.  Deeds is also suffering from a malaise in excitement among Democrats, so has to resort to this kind of stuff.  Warner and Kaine never went to the abortion issue, because they had a full statewide constituency.  Democrats don’t win in Virginia running like this, because despite everything they have been winning in the 2000s by owning the economic and kitchen-table issues while defining Republicans merely as social conservatives who know and care about little else.  Deeds is turing that on its head, he’s becoming the candidate of social issues, of being in favor of infanticide.

Ouch.

(crossposted at ShaunKenney.com)

  • “Whether it’s in Washington or in Richmond, we have to change the tone of the debate and put a stop to the endless bickering and gamesmanship that has come to define politics.”

    Creigh Deeds at Blogs United a few years back. So much for that speech!

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  • Darrell — Chesapeake

    If just one person gets killed in these protests, and the group can be linked back to AFP, McDonnell loses.

  • Actually, the idea that cuts in Medicare hurt senior citizens is one I heard repeatedly from Democrats in the 90s.

    Have they changed their minds?

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  • Deeds is not going to help himself in Southwest VA, where he is currently still viable, if he presses this issue too hard. At the same time he is trying to throw some red meat to the liberal voters in NOVA. He is walking a political balance beam.

    McDonnell has presented a full spectrum message that appeals to all regions of Virginia. Deeds would do well to present himself as a social moderate, like Mark Warner, instead he is presenting himself as a social liberal like President Obama.

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