More than anything this poll shows the extraordinary importance of turnout to the Democratic chances this November.
Too Conservative gets the interesting and unusual features of the survey exactly right.
Before you push the “leaners,” McDonnell leads 47%-42%.
But when you ask the “leaners’ what direction they’re tilting, McDonnell’s lead goes down to 48%-46%.
It gets even more interesting.
Both Deeds and McDonnell are carrying self-identified members of their own party by huge majorities:
Deeds has Democrats by 87%-9% and McDonnell has Republicans by 85%-12%.
Yet McDonnell is ahead of Deeds by a huge margin among independents, 53%-35%, even counting leaners.
McDonnell ahead among independents by 18 points.
But only leading overall by 2?
What’s going on?
Rasmussen must be seeing an electorate in Virginia in which Democrats still have a substantial advantage in party identification.
The advantage implied in these poll numbers strikes me, intuitively, as a bit too large.
But even if my suspicions are correct, there is a larger fact that may ring true.
GOP candidates may have less margin for error today than Democrats.
To win, Republicans have to carry independents by a substantial margin.
If Democrats can turn out their own voters in large numbers, they can win if, additionally, they only lose by “a respectable margin” with independents.
This may be why progressive Democratic bloggers couldn’t understand why Deeds was so passionately defending gun rights in Fairfax today.
It may be why many Democrats still believe that Obama will be a net plus in November.
And it may be why the Democrats’ behind the scene efforts to convince Doug Wilder to endorse Deeds grows more intense by the week.
The national environment leans red, but the party identification of Virginia voters (at least according to Rasmussen) may have a blueish tint that’s not so easily erased.