GOP rout looming

In Virginia, Democrat Creigh Deeds is now 14 points behind Bob McDonnell, according to the latest poll. He is sure to lose the state, which President Barack Obama won last year, the first time a Democrat took the commonwealth in a presidential election since 1964. Everyone thinks Virginia is purple, and the demographics have shifted dramatically in recent years — particularly in Northern Virginia — but the party in the White House has lost the gubernatorial election the first year in for three decades running. Most handicappers bet Deeds would take it if John McCain were president. President Obama happens to still be popular in Virginia, but Deeds — a rural Virginian — has not only failed to excite Democratic base voters in critical Northern Virginia, he has not made the necessary inroads in rural parts of the state that his recently successful fellow Democrats like Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Mark Warner and Gov. Tim Kaine have. The White House decided this was gone two weeks ago and chose to leak pre-mortem assessments to The Washington Post about how Deeds never ran the campaign they recommended. Democrats can kiss Virginia goodbye.

In New Jersey, Obama remains popular as well, but the incumbent, Gov. Jon Corzine, is not. He is likely to lose if support for Independent candidate Chris Daggett continues to flow to Republican Chris Christie, as recent polling suggests. If Corzine holds on, it will be all because of Daggett, a result more of vote-splitting than a surge of Democratic votes, despite Obama's enormous campaign push to hold the Garden State, including pleas to get "cousin Pookie" off the couch to go and vote. Losing New Jersey will be very painful for Democrats, but it won't be a referendum on Obama; it will be an inevitable rejection of Corzine's failed leadership there over the last four years.

The chaotic, dramatic NY-23 race is now Doug Hoffman's to lose. The outsider, independent candidate has surged to first place now that liberal Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava dropped out. Democrats are hoping her endorsement of Bill Owens, the Democrat, will push him over the top, but it doesn't look likely. This has been Republican turf since 1870 and Hoffman is likely to keep it for the GOP. The consequences of his victory, however, would be far-reaching. The question for the Republican Party, of how to harness burgeoning, grassroots conservative anger, isn't easily answered. From the purging of moderates to the embrace of outside candidates, it may become harder for Republican incumbents to win and grow their margins next year and take back a majority. After all, the coalition that wins is not purer, only larger.


WHAT WOULD A GOP ROUT MEAN FOR DEMOCRATS? Ask A.B. returns tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 3. Please join my weekly video Q&A by sending your questions and comments to askab@thehill.com. Thank you.