In Virginia, an unfavorable trend

This Washington Post article finds that the Republicans may lose Virginia in next year’s presidential race, something that hasn’t happened since 1964. One thing we can say with confidence: the Post will do everything it can to make that happen.
One way to look at the prospects for 2008 is to consider the outcome of the 2006 Virginia Senate race. Democrat James Webb won that contest by 9,000 votes. The Democrats clearly will not nominate for president anyone with Webb’s appeal to independent Virginia voters, and the likely nominee (Hillary Clinton) won’t have anything close to Webb’s appeal. Meanwhile, the Republicans won’t nominate anyone more conservative than former Senator Allen; nor, one hopes, will the Republican nominee have a “macaca” style problem. The Post finds the prospects for a Democratic victory in Virginia favorable because polls show that the Democratic brand is more popular with the state’s independent voters than the Republican brand. But it’s questionable that this result would hold in a Giuliani-Clinton race, for example.
On the other hand, Republicans can’t assume that 2006, as bad a year as it was, represents the baseline in Virginia. Independents went for Webb by 12 percentage points, according to exit polls. Today, they might well favor him by a greater margin, and as the war in Iraq continues to lose popularity the spread may continue to grow.
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