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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

VA, NJ Races Tightening Up

Even as Republicans crow about perceptions of the Obama administration running aground, and look forward with growing conviction to big, 1994-style gains in 2010, an interesting thing is happening in the two big statewide races that are actually being conducted right now, in VA and NJ. After months in which Republican gubernatorial candidates Bob McDonnell (VA) and Chris Christie (NJ) held commanding leads over their Democratic rivals, both races appear to be tightening up considerably.
In VA, the last couple of major polls, from the Washington Post and Insider Advantage, showed Creigh Deeds shrinking McDonnell’s lead to four percentage points. As Margie Omero explains at Pollster.com, Deeds’ improved standing reflects ads he’s recently run in Northern Virginia linking McDonnell’s abrasively right-wing master’s thesis to his record as a public official, particularly in terms of hostility to legalized abortion. Omero goes on to suggest that Deeds can make even more hay in NoVa by focusing more on McDonnell’s expressed hostility to working women. In any event, McDonnell no longer has momentum in his favor.
In NJ, Christie’s favorability ratings have steadily worsened as he became better known, and now Democracy Corps has a new poll out showing his lead over incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine down to a single point (40%-39%, with indie candidate Chris Daggett at 11%). Republicans are probably also nervous about the general pattern of NJ statewide races in recent years, where the increasingly Democratic partisan leanings of the state seem to eventually erase early GOP leads.

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