Raising Kaine has results from still another poll, this one an internal done for Webb’s campaign by the Benenson Stategy Group of Washington, DC. According to this poll, George Allen has 46%, Webb 39% and 15% are undecided.
To me, that seems more realistic than the SurveyUSA poll. I’m not out to kill the messenger and I think Webb has a lot of work to do to stay competitive. For example, in both polls Webb’s numbers are similar, 37% in SurveyUSA and 39% in the Benenson poll. It’s Allen’s percentage points that are way high in SurveyUSA, which could simply be attributable to his greater name recognition and the success of his constant commercials. But I just can’t believe that only 3% are undecided as SurveyUSA claims. I’m not a statistician but my gut just tells me that number of undecideds is way too low. Eight to 15% feels more right to me.
The internal poll also provides a fuller picture of where the electorate stands right now. Only 31% think the nation is heading in the right direction and 57% think it’s heading in the wrong direction. Meanwhile, 56% think Virginia is heading in the right direction and only 30% think Virginia is heading in the wrong direction. And While 51% think Allen is doing a good job, only 36% view Bush as doing a good job. And 68% say they want an independent senator who will challenge Bush and only 24% want a senator who will support Bush.
So a very clear campaign strategy is emerging for Webb. Webb already has the support of Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, the two Virginia governors most responsible for making Virginia work. Especially Warner still enjoys support of about 70% or more among Virginians. So with him campaigning for Webb as he did for Kaine in 2005, Webb could soon pick up more voters. And it would benefit Warner too. If he campaigns heavily for Webb and it leads to still another victory in "red state" Virginia, the national party is going to look at Warner long and hard for a presidential run. The man who turned Virginia blue in three races would look mighty formidable.
Then Webb needs to tie George Allen to the failed and unpopular policies of George Bush. Webb also needs to convince voters that he’s the one to challenge Bush on policies. His major campaign theme should be that 6 years of Republican rule with no congressional oversight has produced a government that is both incompetent and abuses its power.
Webb should have a few signature issues, not just the war in Iraq, but the economy, education, infrastructure and contrast how he would vote as compared to Allen’s actual voting record. His main task, though, is to convince voters that he is the independent thinker with a clear vision of the direction that the country should be moving in. The main thing is to acknowledge that people are uneasy with the way things are going and they are looking for a positive change. To just be against something is not enough. Webb also needs to provide a positive alternative to give people a reason to vote for him.
And More Good News
In other good news, the Washington Post has a great report on Mark Warner pledging his support for Webb. Warner said that a “united Virginia Democratic Party stands behind Webb.” He also promised to personally host a fundraiser for Webb.
And speaking about succesful fundraising, Jim Webb met and exceeded his fundraising goal of $100,000. He raised $150,000 for this quarter. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to Allen’s millions. But we’re on our way.