With the Democratic primary for Governor of Virginia over and done with, the state now proceeds to the general election and a question that will be heavily examined by national media: Is this one-time Republican stronghold now going to continue being a state that is up for grabs or perhaps even leaning to the Democrats -- or could it snap back to the GOP?
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Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine is unable to run for re-election (this is the only state left where governors are limited to a single term at a time) and the nominees now are Democratic state Sen. Creigh Deeds and Republican former Attorney General Bob McDonnell. This is in fact a rematch from 2005, when McDonnell defeated Deeds for Attorney General by 323 votes out of about 1.9 million. (McDonnell resigned as Attorney General this year to become a full-time candidate for governor.)
For now at least, immediately post-primary, the new Rasmussen poll gives Deeds a lead over McDonnell of 47%-41% -- a number that seems broadly in line with the trend of high-profile contests in Virginia since mid-decade.
The state has become much friendlier to Democrats since 2005, giving them three additional House seats, both Senate seats, and of course delivering their 13 electoral votes to Barack Obama after continuously voting Republican since 1968. Democrats will be trying to consolidate those gains and nail down this state as blue territory. Republicans will be trying to win the crowd back and rebuild their party at both the state level, and as a sign of a national comeback. In the background, the race is likely to be seen as proxy for President Obama's continued popularity or lack thereof, almost a year into his presidency.