The Deeds folks are no doubt celebrating this morning’s Washington Post poll that shows him narrowing the race for Virginia governor.  His attacks on McDonnell’s extreme right-wing views are working.  Let’s pause for a moment and relish this development:  Democrats gain by pointing out the values of conservatives.  We’ve come a long way, baby.

Deeds is gaining with “independent” women.  I know that probably means those who don’t afiliate with one political part or the other, but I think there’s another way to look at it.  Independent, in the more general sense of the word, women who are Republicans can bring along their moderate GOP or conservatic Democratic hisbands.  Independent wives tend to get their way a lot fo the time, beleive me, I know.  With plenty of time left in this campaign, they will work on their sposes and friends to vote for Deeds, unless McDonnell can turn the tide.

One message Deeds needs to continue to press is that when McDonnell wrote his thesis, he already was married and had, I beleive, two daughters.  So looking into their eyes, he saw a role for them – barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen.  Deeds will need to make the conenction between McDonnel’s thesis and where he was a that point in his life.

Deeds is leading big in northern Virginia, so obviously turnout will be important here.  Expect to see flyers targeting women here until election day.  After all, in the poll only 46% said they’ve heard “a good amount” about the thesis.  There are more to be educated.  Even though only less than one percent beleive the thesis is the most important issue, there are two reasons to ignore that statistic.  One, because it’s not the most important doesn’t mean it couldn’t influenec a voter.  And two, not many people will admit it’s the “most important,” even if it is.  Also, it will be critical for Deeds to come out with an ad that says “Bob McDonnell says his views on women have changed.  Then why did he introduce 34 bills restricting abortion while he was in the House of Delegates – which he was until only four years ago?” One of the focus group participants mention that what McDonnell wrote 20 years ago isn’t as inportnat as what he did.  Thirty-four anti-women bills is what he did.

Deeds is running less than I had hoped in rural Virginia.  With his slight drawl and gun rights’ votes, I thought he could peel off some of the Republican’s natural support.  Maybe spending mor time down there might help.  Maybe he can talk about how he wants to ensure we have enouigh revenues for schools down there and pojtn ot that McDonnell’s transportation plan would cripple their schools.  MAybe he could talk about the economic development he wants to bring to those areas, suggesting that he might lure some of NOVA’s business to those areas of the state.

If we have a healthcare bill signed by November, adn if the talk in DC is about strong financial reforms, we might see an uptick in enthusiasm by Democratic voters and a better response from independnet moderates.

The sidebar that discusses the focus groups incldues this intersting statement.

Many in both groups described traffic as their top concern — perhaps reinforced by the rush-hour traffic they battled to get to the Wednesday evening focus group meetings in Fairfax. But several expressed a deep cynicism about their political leaders’ ability and will to solve the region’s congestion issues. Some were worried that Deeds, as a native of western Virginia, would not be sympathetic enough to the transit needs of Northern Virginia.

…The economy and jobs are voters’ top concerns in the election, according to the new poll, but few in the focus groups expressed a strong view on which candidate could better lead the state out of its economic doldrums. Lisa Schumann, 36, of Bristow said, "I think that I need more information to say." She also wondered how much a governor could do to make a difference. [emphasis added]

Here is where Deeds has even more possibilities.  I’ll bet he would get a bump of five percent in Northern Virginia if we would talk honestly about taxes to improve transportation.  I’ve already written about how he could frame this.  I’m under no illusion that he will tak honestly about transportation funding, as I’m sure he’s hearing an earful from spineless Democrats who are telling him he shouldn’t go near the issue.

Deeds could also make the link between what a Democratic governor can get from a Democratic administration in terms of new jobs and the race.  Fact is governors can’t do a whole lot to help the state besides give away the store in terms of tax advantages to companies who bring business here.  What we give away and what we gain in new jobs can be debated.  Moreover, I’m not so sure that tax relief wins the day when a business and their workers can’t get around the state because of traffic.