Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Re: The Obama Effect

Yesterday I wondered whether Obama was weighing down the Democrats in this year’s two gubernatorial races. A Washington Post reporter, in a story titled “Some Obama Voters Start to Express Regret,” expresses similar thoughts on the Virginia race:

The president will make his first appearance in the campaign Thursday, when he headlines a fundraiser for R. Creigh Deeds (D) in McLean, in part to try to help the state senator from Bath County win over wavering Democrats such as Cleland.

But Obama’s entry into the race presents a challenge for Deeds: How does he continue the momentum created by Obama, the first Democratic presidential candidate in more than four decades to carry Virginia, without being saddled with the baggage the president now carries?
His answer has largely been to distance himself from the president’s policies despite attempts by Republican Robert F. McDonnell to force him to take positions on issues such as unions, climate change and health care.

But at least so far that tactic hasn’t been working. The voters interviewed by the Post are already fed up with Obama and want to give the Republicans another shot. Yes, Obama is in D.C., and the race at hand is for the governor’s mansion in Richmond, but right now the ballot in November is the only way Virginians can register their views. This from an Obama voter:

“He’s just not as advertised,” she said. “Nothing’s changed for the common guy. I feel like I’ve been punked.” . . . She’s seen enough of Obama’s leadership to know that she is open to voting for a Republican this fall. “We really needed something different,” she said, “but instead we are doing the same things over and over and over.”

Again, we are a long way from November, but Deeds will need to change the dynamic in the race. Otherwise, he will be another victim of the Virginia curse – the unbroken string of candidates dating back to 1977 who lost the gubernatorial race after their party took the White House the preceding year.