by Paul Goldman
While one never wants to make too much of polling roughly one year out, it doesn’t take Sir Isaac Newton to see the political laws in motion in Virginia right now. The GOP attacks on federal workers may be good politics in Florida or even in North Carolina, but they has compounded the Republican problems in NOVA, the key battleground in the 2012 presidential election.
I can’t prove the following but it is true nonetheless: Newt Gingrich, despite living in NOVA, can not overcome the negative image with federal workers he created for himself by pushing the government shutdown during his Speakership.
Gingrich might be able to sell the New Newt in other parts of the country, but not to the highly educated folks in NOVA. To them, he is now and will always be the Old Newt.
In fact, Gingrich will get wiped out in NOVA so badly, it will take George Allen with him. Guaranteed — you heard it first here. Newt could put McDonnell on the ticket, he could put George Mason too; it wouldn’t matter, as the Newttron bomb will leave too big a hole in the VA GOP for the former Speaker to get the state’s 13 electoral votes. This doesn’t preclude him from winning the White House, as there are ways for the GOP to get to 270 without our electoral votes — although wouldn’t be easy.
However, Newt simply can’t win Virginia. Obama/Kaine stomps Gingrich/Allen in 2012. Take it to the bank.
As for Romney: He might be a lot stronger in VA than he looks now. Why?
Once free of the Tea Party and the right wing of the Republican Party, Romney can concentrate on winning the general, allowing the former Bay State Governor to morph into the Harvard MBA-JD, more mellow, gel-haired, not-really-so-conservative, suburban-friendly guy he had to be to get elected Governor of Massachusetts. Romney is way more conservative than he claimed to be up North, but not nearly as over-the-edge as some of his stands have been as he works to win the GOP nomination.
Now, if Gingrich, Ron Paul, etc. can force Romney into WW1-style trench warfare, then it might be too late to fix the damage after the nomination fight. But assuming this doesn’t happen, Mitt Romney won’t be toxic in NOVA.
What makes Virginia different right now than other swing states is the white, college-educated voter. Virginia has a high percentage of these folks, and this is key swing vote open to Democrats right now. Everyone else has basically chosen up sides.
The swing voter in VA is okay with the President’s values, his family, his 21st-century persona. They might not be hugely positive, but they are positive enough to vote for him again. Gingrich is a throwback: been there, done that; didn’t like it then, don’t like it now either.
Romney is a different story, at least potentially.
So, if sentiment in swing vogters goes south on the President, then Romney can gain. But nothing can help Gingrich.
George Allen’s problem is that he was good with white, college-educated folks in 1993, less so in 2000, even less so in 2006. There is no reason to think this vector has changed direction, especially against a guy like Tim Kaine, who was Warner’s sidekick. Tim is perfect for white, college educated voters: moderate, smart, no drama, good government, a nice person, live and let live.
In a non-presidential year, George Allen would still have trouble, since he remains fixated on trying to revive the 1990s look, which is retro now. It is a good schtick, but the state has changed enough that it is not enough to win, even with all things going just right.
But with Gingrich weighing Allen down, Kaine wins with room to spare.
Allen needs Romney because that opens up the possibility of McDonnell as VP; no way Gingrich takes the VA Governor.
As I say: The fact Kaine has a 5-point lead right now is not all that useful, especially since the poll was skewed a little toward his kind of voter. Both men have roughly the same image, so that would spell a 50-50 race all things considered.
However, it is a presidential year. The Old Newt haunts the New Newt in Nova. Newt would lose big there, taking Allen down at the same time. The polls show that, clearly.
What does George Allen do? He said he was going to stay out of the GOP presidential race. That’s his choice. But if his network isn’t going with Romney, they are just voting for Kaine at this point.