By Lynn R. Mitchell
“This is not a good development for Mark Warner.” — Dr. Larry Sabato, political pundit, 10/15/2014
Since Monday night’s debate between Mark Warner and Ed Gillespie that the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin called Warner’s debate from hell and noting that Gillespie had drawn blood, Warner has ducked from reporters and is keeping a low profile while Puckettgate continues to grow.
On Wednesday night, Fox News covered the latest developments (see Fox News Report on Warner Involvement in Puckett Scandal, video above) and University of Virginia political pundit Dr. Larry Sabato observed, “This is not a good development for Mark Warner.”
In the week since Puckett-gate broke, Virginia Virtucon reports that Gillespie continues to close the gap with Warner (see Mark Warner’s internal polls in free fall):
Last week’s poll from the University of Mary Washington showed incumbent Democrat U.S. Sen. Mark Warner holding a 10-point advantage over Ed Gillespie, 47%-37%, but below the 50% threshold. (Among the 6% who identify as Libertarian Robert Sarvis’s supporters, Warner only leads Gillespie 35%-34% so it appears he is drawing fairly evenly from the two candidates.)
Even more revealing is what the internals are showing since Puckettgate or “Bribestorm,” as VV is calling it, happened:
What has to be extremely troubling for Mark Warner is that his last two internal campaign polls have shown his lead to be in free fall and that was before the Washington Post (I still can’t believe I’m writing that) broke #BRIBESTORM. According to anonymous sources close to Warner, his most recent poll only gave him a +4 lead over Gillespie, which is down from the +6 lead in his previous internal campaign poll (and that was down from a +10 lead in the poll before that, which corresponds with the MWU poll.)
Déjà vu of the 2006 George Allen campaign when the most popular Republican in the state was toppled by victory-hungry Democrats?
Virtucon points to the enthusiasm gap between Democrats and the eager-for-a-win Republicans including the push in Northern Virginia’s 10th and 11th congressional districts to elect two women Republicans (what’s that the Dems have been trying to push about the GOP war on women?) who have proven to be excellent candidates.
In the 10th congressional district, Delegate Barbara Comstock is running so far ahead in the polls that national Democrats pulled $2.8 million in financial support last week from the stumbling John Foust campaign.
Congressman Gerry Connolly in the 10th District has not been very energetic in his race while Republican challenger Suzanne Scholte has deep roots in the ethnic community of NoVa and has been working hard to siphon off those votes.
Norm Leahy at Bearing Drift noted the “nothing going on here, move along,” attitude of Warner this week (see Warner keeps ducking, Gillespie about to come out swinging):
Recall that Warner declined to talk to the press at all after the Danville forum on Tuesday and what we begin to see is a pattern: there’s one answer — the same as was given at Monday night’s debate. There is no new information, and no further questions, from anyone, on the subject are answered.
But Gillespie is surging in the final days of this race and could cause an upset win, just as George Allen did in the 1993 gubernatorial campaign when he came from 30 points behind to win by double digits.
Jim Riley predicts that Warner is in for the worst two-and-a-half weeks of his political life with what is about to come from the Gillespie ad campaign (see COMING SOON: Mark Warner and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Two and a Half Weeks of His Political Life), and warns, “Get ready for what is about to rain down, Virginia…”
“There is a national wave forming for Republicans right now,” the Virtucon post advised. “Ed Gillespie may very well be in the right place at the right time. He needs to make these next three weeks count.”