I'm on a blogger conference call right now with Nathan Daschle of the Democratic Governor's Association (DGA). Here are the highlights so far:
*Daschle is "feeling pretty good about where we are right now" in the New Jersey and Virginia governor's races.
*Daschle notes that this is a tough year, with a "hungry" GOP, but that Republicans have gone 0-4 since 2007 in targeted races. Also, Daschle points out that it's been 5 years since Republicans have knokced off a Democratic incumbent in a governor's race.
*Another interesting factoid: it's been 24 years since the party in the White House has won either the Virginia or New Jersey governor's races.
*The DGA went in early and aggressively in Virginia with a major ad investment which was "critical to get us as close as we are in this race." After the ads ran, Deeds was ahead and McDonnell's "negatives" soared, according to Daschle.
*Daschle says the contrast couldn't be more clear between Deeds ("honest," "record of success," "best plans" for transportation, education, jobs) and McDonnell ("ideology ahead of people").
*Right now, according to Daschle, McDonnell has a "Gulf-force wind at his back." We need to get everyone - African Americans, NOVA voters - out to the polls next Tuesday.
*The bottom line is that "we're a little behind in the polls" and "we'll feel really good if we can win this one."
*Daschle asserts strongly that this is "not a referendum on Obama." In fact, if Republicans don't go 2-0 in NJ and VA, it will tell us that "America doesn't want a GOP comeback."
*We won't know until election day if the hundreds of thousands of new Obama voters come out for Creigh.
*On Creigh's saying he's not an "Obama Democrat" and coming out against "cap and trade," "public option," etc., Daschle says he "can't really blame Creigh," that Creigh's "made it clear he'd be his own man," and that Creigh has the "right message for the state."
P.S. I met privately with Daschle last Friday at DGA headquarters. Some of what we talked about then was repeated in today's conference call.
UPDATE: Daschle declares that "good policy is good politics." Personally, I believe that the public option and cap-and-trade are "good policy," but anyways...