In a matter of weeks Terry McAuliffe, the well-funded former Clintonite and DNC chair, has gone from the odds on favorite to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Virginia, to the underdog heading into today’s primary. Recent polls have shown a surge by the more moderate Creigh Deeds, with McAuliffe and Brian Moran fighting it out for second place.
With everything now hinging on turnout, Mo Elleithee, McAuliffe’s senior campaign strategist, just sent out an email touting an internal poll showing him in a dead heat for first:
We conducted a poll over the last three nights – with 200 interviews a night. We never base decisions on one night’s worth of interviews because the sample is too small. But throughout this campaign our night-by-night numbers have been reliable and have picked up trends such as the recent increase in support for Deeds. I am encouraged that last night’s interviews have us tied with Deeds.
While this is not definitive, last night’s trend shows this is a competitive race and we need to make sure that every vote counts and we need to make every effort to turn out our voters today.
Mark my words: we can win this thing tonight. There are three key things to take away from our polling research.
Elleithee argues that McAuliffe’s support for stricter gun control is resonating, that he is the most electable, and that the campaigns field operation will make the difference in a fluid race. The fact that the McAuliffe people, in an effort to boost Election Day turnout, are touting an internal poll showing him tied with somebody who was in distant third just a few weeks ago, probably isn’t the greatest sign. But then again, I remember that I was talking to McAuliffe in New Hampshire the moment the AP called the primary for Hillary Clinton, in what was a stunning upset. So we’ll have to wait and see how credible this email proves to be.