Mad Wombat

A moderately liberal Democraticly-themed blog

Category Archives: Virginia

Kaine reluctant about running for VA-Sen? And Who Else Could Run?

It seems Obama is going to have a sitdown with DNC Chairman and former governor Tim Kaine to try to persuade him to run for the Virginia Senate seat that Jim Webb is leaving in 2012.  Over the weekend, it was reported that Kaine was “not interested” in running for Senate, which is kind of surprising to me, but additionally causes a problem for Democrats in Virginia if he indeed declines to run.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that Kaine ultimately refuses to run.  Who are our options?  There are no current Democratic state-level office holders, as all three statewide elective offices are held by Republicans at the moment.

The current US House members from the state of Virginia include:

  • Robert Scott (VA-03)
  • Jim Moran (VA-08)
  • Gerald Connolly (VA-11)

Not exactly a huge bench of current federal office holders, with half of the Democratic ranks being wiped out in 2010.  Those being swept out in 2010 were:

  • Glenn Nye (VA-02)
  • Tom Perriello (VA-05)
  • Rick Boucher (VA-09)

Some other names of note that have been tossed around include:

  • Former governor Doug Wilder
  • State Senator Craig Deeds
  • Former State Delegate Brian Moran
  • Terry McAuliffe

It seems likely that one of these 10 candidates, if not Tim Kaine, would be the nominee.  The problem is that none of these candidates looks particularly appealing.  Someone like Robert Scott, Glenn Nye, or Gerald Connolly would start with the disadvantage of basically zero name recognition, and progressives in the primaries are unlikely to support a blue dog like Nye if there was a viable alternative.  Connolly, meanwhile, might want to try to make his seat in the House more comfortable rather than run for Senate, as he only won re-election last year by about 1,000 votes.

The Morans are probably a little bit more well known in the state, though anyone not named Tim Kaine is probably going to suffer a name recognition deficit against Allen.  Jim Moran might spook some progressives with some of his votes, especially for free trade and the bankruptcy bill.  Brian Moran is most well known probably for his slug-fest with Terry McAuliffe in the 2009 Democratic Primary for governor.  Also, he just became chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia in December, so one would think he wouldn’t leave that job so soon.

Rich Boucher may perhaps be the well known of all the current for former representatives, just because he’s been around so long.  However, I don’t get the sense that he would be someone who would want to run for Senate, and if he runs for anything, it might be for his old seat.  Also, again, progressives probably wouldn’t like someone with blue dog tendencies.

Some people have brought up Doug Wilder, which I think has been met with laughter from most everyone.  Not only to I doubt that, at age 80 (yes, he’s that old) he would run, but age would definitely be an issue in the campaign.  Also, his refusal to support Deeds in either of his state-wide election races and the fact that he hasn’t held state-wide office since 1994 makes him an odd choice, other than the fact that he’s about the only former governor left to pick from, though at that point, one just as well choose Chuck Robb. He’s at least younger.

Speaking of Craig Deeds, I have a feeling a lot of people are still a bit sore about his non-campaign for governor in 2009.  Also, there are probably significant doubts that, if he’s lost statewide twice already, why should the third time be the charm?

Finally, we have Terry McAuliffe and Tom Perriello.  Perriello is clearly the choice of the netroot progressives, who have been touting him since the minute Webb said he wasn’t running.  The main problem with him is that, he’s seen as rather unpopular, even among Democrats and liberals, despite being relatively unknown.  It makes winning the race a lot harder when you have to win over a significant portion of your own base and then overcome a name recognition problem as well.  McAuliffe probably has the most name recognition of the ten candidates listed, but we already saw the very strong opposition to him by progressives in the governor’s primary in 2009.

So at this point, my conclusion is that, while the race may not be lost if Kaine doesn’t run, it is definitely going to be an uphill battle.  Kaine already has a lead even before jumping in according to PPP, and is probably the only candidate who has a reasonable chance of winning the race on his own merits.  Everyone else is probably going to have to rely, in part, on Obama’s coattailes in Virginia in 2012 to get elected.  That doesn’t mean they can’t, it just means they have almost no margin for error.

Why Kaine is a far superior Senate candidate than Perriello

Of course, no Democrat (that I’m aware of) has announced intentions to run for Jim Webb’s senate seat now that Webb has announced that he isn’t running for re-election.  However, the top two names out there are Kim Kaine, former governor of Virginia, and Tom Perriello, former VA-05 representative.

Probably not shockingly, this is turning into yet another moderate vs. netroots primary battle (at least if both candidates get into the race), with moderates falling in line with Kaine and the netroots falling in line with Perriello.  However, looking at some facts, as well as a November 2010 poll about the primary, it seems very difficult to see how Kim Kaine isn’t a far superior primary opponent to Tom Perriello.

I’m not going to say Perriello can’t win.  Indeeds, there is nothing in the polls that say Perriello is unelectable.  The problem is that Kaine would likely start the race leading any Republican opponent, and with strong support in the all the groups he needs support from.  Perriello, on the other hand, would likely trial most, if not all, potential opponents, and have to spend time shoring up some his should-be supporters, before even getting into moderates and independents who he’ll need to pick up to win a race.  Not impossible, but he starts at a great disadvantage.

Without even getting into politics, let’s look at some facts.  How about experience?  Perriello’s elective office experience consists of two years in the US House of Representatives.  I don’t want to downplay how fantastic his victory over Virgil Goode was in 2008, but failed the most important test of any freshman Congressman: get re-elected. Yes, he fared better than many Democrats, and I think it’s one reason why he can still win, but can he get the moderate and conservative support he needs?  Kaine, meanwhile, has been Mayor of Richmond, Lt. Governor under Mark Warner, and then Governor of Virginia, and despite being blocked by the GOP often, left office with 60% approval.  Also, as DNC chair, Kaine can claim to have strong ties to Obama.  Perriello is supported by netroots because he fearlessly ran on Obama’s agenda in 2010, and I applaud that.  However,  I should also note (again) that he lost.

Now onto the November 2010 poll run by PPP.  This is where Kaine’s advantage over Perriello starts to really show.  PPP did approval ratings on both candidates (and Webb) and ran hypothetical races of them against George Allen (who has already announced), Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

Kaine had the best approval rating of any of the 8 people asked who is currently not in elected office, at 43% favorable, and a +3% net.  That’s opposed to 40% favorable (-1% net) for George Allen, 20% favorable (-5% net) for Bill bolling, 31% favorable (-8% net) for Ken Cuccinelli, and 22% favorable (-10% net) for Tom Perriello. He’s also the most known of every politician not named Mark Warner, getting less “not sure” responses than even current Governor Bob McDonnell.  While this can be addressed over a campaign, Perriello is the least known candidate, with 46% saying they aren’t sure of their opinion of him.  When taking “not sure”s out of it, 52% of those rendering an opinion on Tim Kaine had a favorable opinion of him, as compared to 49% for Allen, 44% for Bolling, 44% for Cuccinelli, and 41% for Perriello.  It’s not a fantastic start when you have a lower approval than the state’s insane Attorney General.

When it came to the match ups themselves, Kaine led all three potential opponents, leading Allen 50%-44%, Bolling 48%-41%, and Cuccinelli, 50%-40%, coming away with, at worst, a 48% rating, and Allen coming the closest at 6%.  That is even somewhat better than Webb. While Webb had a higher floor (49%), Webb did have a closer margin with Allen (4%).  Perriello, on the other hand, loses 2 of the 3 match ups.  He trails Allen by 5%, 47%-42% and trails Bolling by 1%, 42%-41%, which for the purposes of this poll is really a tie.  The only candidate he leads is the only candidate who has a net approval rating anywhere near as low as his: Ken Cuccinelli, who he leads 44%-41%.  Perriello still maxes out at 44% approval, 4% lower than Kaine’s bottom.

It gets even worse when one looks at the crosstabs.  While Kaine has 68%, and a +53% net approval with Obama voters, Perriello only has 36% approva, and a net +16%.  And despite having only 56% of Obama voters even rendering an opinion on him, Perriello still has a higher unfavorable rating among Obama voters than Kaine does.  This trend pretty much continues through many other samples.

Kaine gets 84% to 86% of Obama voters in his three matchups, while Perriello only receives 72% to 79% of Obama voters in his matchups, with as many as 11% of Obama voters defecting to Allen in the Allen/Perriello matchup.  He also currently has a minimum of 15% of Democratic voters saying undecided, meaning as many as a full quarter of Obama voters either currently support Allen over Perriello or could support him in a race between the two.  The Allen+Undecided number for Kaine is only 15%.

When it comes to ideology, it doesn’t get better.  Perriello has a higher unfavorable rating among liberals than Kaine, despite having twice as many “not sure”s.  Kaine’s net among liberals is +51% while Perriello is a mere +9%.  The two have an equal unfavorable rating among moderates despite, again, Perriello having three times as many moderates saying “not sure.”  Perriello does have a net positive among moderates, at +3, but that pales in comparison to Kaine’s net +34% among moderates.  Perriello’s net among conservatives is better, but only because 52% say “not sure,” and it’s not like many more conservatives can refuse to say they have a favorable opinion, with only 7% saying so.  When it comes to match ups, once again Kaine’s Allen+Undecided numbers are only 18% for liberals and 32% for moderates, while Perriello’s is 22% for liberals and 46% for moderates.  They perform about the same among conservatives.

Even when you break it down by party, Kaine’s unfavorability within the party is only 15% while Perriello’s is 24%, with a “not sure” response nearly three times that of Kaine.  Only 58% of Democrats who had an opinion have a favorable opinion of Perriello.  That’s downright terrible.  Kaine also has a net approval among Independents while Perriello has a net disapproval.  When it comes to a race against Allen, Kaine brings in 90% of Democrats, and a plurality of Independents.  Perriello bleeds nearly twice as many Democrats (though they all mostly go into the “undecided” category) and Allen picks up 49% of Independents.

While women have a net approval of Tim Kaine of +9%, they have a net disapproval of Perriello of -10%.  That’s not a good start in one of the most important demographics in the state.  It doesn’t get much better with African Americans, with Perriello having a higher unfavorable rating than Kaine, despite having twice the “not sure” numbers.

The one and only place where Perriello appears to even tie Kaine is within the 18 to 29 demographic.  Kaine actually has a net disapproval of -5% among 18-29 year olds, 36-41 while Perriello only has a -3% net, 30-33.  However, while Kaine has a net +15, -1, and -6 among 30 to 45 year olds, 46 to 65 year olds, and 65+, Perrillo crashes, with a net -9%, -10%, and -13%.  And Perriello shows no advantage among that group in a match up Allen.  Kaine wins 18-29 year olds 58%-31% against Allen while Perriello wins it 54%-36%.  And while Kaine wins every age group but 65+ against Allen, Perriello only wins the 18-29 age group.

Again, do these numbers show that Perriello is unelectable?  No, I think the numbers are definitely close enough to show that Perriello is at least a theoretically viable candidate.  But it’s clear that Perriello is working from something like a 7 to 10% disadvantage when compared to Kaine.  That is definitely enough to flip the race from a Democratic win to a Republican win in 2012, and I’m sure many people out there will remind us that he was 30% down to Goode not too long before the 2008 election, which he won.

Of course, sites like Blue Virginia is already on the Perriello bandwagon, and already blasting media sites for paying more attention to Kaine, despite the fact that “draft Perriello” on Facebook has 632 likes (as of this writing) vs. 193 likes for “draft Tim Kaine.”  Of course, there appears to be no way to actually how many of those 632 likes are people from Virginia and how many of them are visitors to netroots blogs who, I’m sure, are trying to hype up a possible Perriello candidacy.  And as I’ve noted before, despite the apparent excitement and energy that the netroots can put into races, making the candidates they support look like they have more support than they perhaps do, their record in elections is pretty bad (think Lieberman, who was still elected Senator, and Halter, who lost the AR-Sen primary in 2010, among others).  And really, with numbers like 632 and 193, any comparison at this point is virtually meaningless.


Governor McDonnell: Stimulus Works!

I usually try not to post twice in one day, but I couldn’t resist this (emphasis mine):

Governor Bob McDonnell today announced that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will advertise an estimated $1.1 billion in construction and maintenance projects during the first six months of Fiscal Year 2011. The estimated economic impact of this work is 33,900 jobs created or supported, as well as $2.83 billion in economic activity and $282.5 million in taxes that come back to the Commonwealth.

Is Governor McDonnell saying what I think he’s saying here?  Is he actually saying that government spending – and specifically the type of government spending that was part of the stimulus package (though I don’t know how much, if any, of this money was part of the stimulus) – is actually…helpful in creating jobs and spurring economic growth?  Isn’t that a major faux pas for a Republican? I thought it was standard GOP dogma that government spending couldn’t, by definition, help spur economic growth.