By Carten Cordell | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
Polling data shows no clear leader, and an Aug. 7 Rasmussen Reports poll had the race deadlocked at 45 percent.
But unlike an equally tight presidential race, which offers disparate visions for the country’s future, Kaine and Allen are espousing bland, homogeneous messages.
“In some ways, I feel like they have similar strategies,” said Geoff Skelley, a political analyst at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “Allen attacks Kaine for having proposed a tax hike during his time in office (as governor), basically attacking him on spending. Kaine in many of his ads attacks Allen (for) going along with bills that raised the national debt while he was in the Senate.
“In some ways, they are talking about similar things, just from two different vantage points.”
Indeed, the candidates’ inability to break from their polling deadlock is as much a testimony to their like backgrounds as it is to Virginia’s status as a battleground state.
Both men were born outside the Old Dominion but rose quickly through ranks of state government before being elected governor — Allen as a member of the House of Delegates, Kaine as lieutenant governor.
But each candidate is seemingly focusing on the other’s accomplishments — or lack thereof — after Richmond, mostly trying to draw distinctions related to the economy.
Allen, for his part, has used numerous ads highlighting Kaine’s term as chairman of the Democratic National Committee to tie him to President Barack Obama, hoping a tepid economic recovery will provide a distinctive choice in voters’ minds.
“It is obvious connection to make,” Skelley said. “However, it is interesting, because it is not like Kaine has been fleeing from the president. In fact, in a lot of ways Kaine has decided that being connected to the president may serve him better than not.”
Allen has been out of political office for six years, but, Skelley said, voters’ familiarity with the candidates means attack ads are probably the weapon of choice in breaking that deadlock.
“The general population knows them pretty well,” he said. “I think the attacks probably have as good a chance of sticking for something that happened in 2009 as it does for something that happened in 2002.”
The Allen and Kaine campaigns failed to respond to requests for comment.
Carten Cordell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.