That’s one potential conclusion that you can draw from today’s and yesterday’s Quinnipiac polls looking at Virginia political conditions. Admittedly, they’re just one firm’s polls; also admittedly, anyone likely to be reading this is a hardcore political junky anyway, so we might as well take a look.
Yesterday’s Q-poll looked at Governor McDonnell’s popularity rating*, which is – to be modest about it – practically off of the charts at 61/21. Those numbers represent a 67/17 favorable rating with independents, a barely underwater 39/40 among Democrats… and a 46/32 favorable rating with African-American voters, which presumably should have people perking up at this point – not that it would last long in a hypothetical 2012 Presidential election contest against Obama, of course. Still, ablative armor is still armor, and the unique nature of Virginia’s gubernatorial situation applies here. Bob McDonnell can’t run again for Governor in 2013 any which way anyway; and even an unsuccessful Vice Presidential run would not necessarily stop him from running for Senate in 2014, should Mark Warner (who is also very popular in Virginia) decide that he’d rather run for Governor again in 2013. Or even if Senator Warner decides to stay in the Senate, for that matter.
All of this is of interest largely because of today’s Q-Poll (via Jim Geraghty), which looks at the Virginia Republican primary lineup and the general election. Short version: Perry beats Romney, 25/19 (43/36 in a two-man race); Romney ‘beats’ Obama, 44/42; Obama ‘beats’ Perry, 44/42; and the President is severely underwater with 40/54 disapproval 41/51 and re-election numbers. This essentially means that right now the general Presidential election race is tied in Virginia (both candidates are within MoE in the general election); this is very bad news for the President, as it is absolutely critical for the Democrats that they retain Virginia. There are three in-play states that Obama must win in order to ensure that he ekes out a second term: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. He doesn’t have to win all three, but there’s no high-probability path to re-election that doesn’t require at least one of them. Two of those states are controlled by Republicans right now; the third (Virginia) has a split legislature; all three must be considered ‘hostile territory’ for the purposes of campaign scheduling and fundraising.
But from the Republicans’ point of view the situation is not all that rosy: Virginia has been a prime Democratic target for the last decade, and – Tim Kaine aside – the local Democratic party has a good infrastructure and a decent local talent pool (including the aforementioned Senator Warner) to draw from. The ‘native son’ gambit is a commonly-evoked one in American Presidential politics, despite the fact that it usually looks better on paper than it does in real life… but as the above shows, it does look good on paper in this case. So… Gov. McDonnell may have options, here. Romney in particular may be interested, in fact; he could use the shoring up of his social conservative credentials more than Perry might need to shore up Virginia in general.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*It also shows that regulating abortion clinics like they were medical facilities is extremely popular in Virginia (55/22 for/against). One wonders how much Lila Rose‘s Live Action sting operations had to do with that…