How Scott Taylor Went From Embattled to Favorite

A month ago, it appeared 2nd District Rep. Scott Taylor’s (R) reelection bid was on its heels.

petition scandal involving Taylor campaign volunteers cast doubts about the incumbent’s methods. And, according to an internal poll, the Democratic nominee, Elaine Luria, had seized the momentum in the race.

But a curious thing has happened since those dark days: Taylor, having shored up his base, stands poised to win reelection.

Two independent polls have identified an unmistakable shift in the 2nd District electorate toward Taylor.

The New York Times found Taylor leading Luria 49-41 percent. A more recent poll from Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center  shows Taylor leading Luria 50-43 percent.

As I did a month ago, I spoke with Christopher Newport’s Quentin Kidd to get a sense of what’s happening in the 2nd District race.

While Kidd said he has “no reason to doubt” Luria’s Sept. 17 poll showing her leading Taylor 51-43 percent, in the weeks since that poll’s release, voters have decided the petition scandal is, according to Kidd, “much ado about nothing.”

“I’m surprised voters don’t think the scandal is a big deal,” Kidd said. “Independents say it’s not a big deal.”

Moreover, “Luria hasn’t successfully made Taylor pay a cost among voters” for it.

But Kidd said Taylor has done something just as important as blunting the petition issue. He’s also gone a long way to muting – at least so far – a main line of Democratic attack: President Trump.

“Taylor has successfully distanced himself from Trump in an election that’s a referendum on Trump,” Kidd said. “Luria has not tied Trump around Taylor’s neck.”

Kidd said Luria’s campaign has every incentive to do so. In the Wason Center poll, Kidd said Democratic enthusiasm is “10 points ahead of the GOP and Trump’s approval ratings are upside-down in the 2nd District.”

Even so, Taylor, the Republican, leads by 7. That reinforces the notion, Kidd said, “Democrats have not pressed their case that Taylor is Trump, and Trump is Taylor.”

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