Today’s Democratic Primary for Governor includes candidate Terry McAuliffe, who first came to prominence as Bill Clinton’s highly successful money-man in the 90s. As the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee starting in 2001, many credit McAuliffe with leading the Democratic Party to parity with the Republicans in fundraising after many years eating dust. More recently McAuliffe served as Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Chairman and could be seen on “Hardball” and the like claiming “it aint over” right through the last primaries on June 3rd and beyond.
But while McAuliffe knows all the right people, has the name recognition, and the national political resume, he has many obstacles running in Virginia as well. In today’s Los Angeles Times, analyst Stu Rothenberg noted the challenge: “Terry is kind of an operator. That gives him contacts and resources in high places, but it also makes it a little difficult to sell him to people who think of themselves as Virginians, not Hollywood celebrities or Palm Beach billionaires, but regular folks who live in Norfolk.”
After leading in early polls, McAuliffe has fallen behind in the most recent polls. State Senator Creigh Deeds now leads both McAuliffe and former State Legislator Brian Moran. But Mark Blumenthal of Pollster.com notes the difficulty in polling accurately for a primary like today’s contest: “It is certainly possible to conduct a survey on the race, and some or all of the polls may ultimately provide an accurate result. But they may also miss by a mile, both because of the challenge of identifying likely voters and because of the chance of last minute shifts. What is ‘virtually impossible’ right now is high confidence that the current polling results will predict who will win or their margin of victory on Tuesday.”
In any case, as our experience conducting exit polls in Virginia (and in low turnout primaries in particular) can attest, there are a number of confounding variables there with which pollsters have to contend. Watch this space tomorrow, as Edison’s Executive Vice President Joe Lenski breaks down the results and shares his insights about the race and possible implications for pollsters.