It would probably be easy to develop a few hundred bullet checklist of reasons that Democrat Mark Warner is set to trounce Republican Jim Gilmore in this November's election to fill the Senate seat vacated by retiring Senator John Warner.
Let's go with two simple reasons -- Warner can play to the middle. Gilmore must play to the right.
Warner's first campaign ad, which launches today, demonstrates his strategy clearly. It features one of Virginia's senior Republican statesmen, state Senator John Chichester, touting Mark Warner's fiscal prowess. It is a clear indication that Warner isn't looking for a three point win. He's looking to crush Jim Warner by double digits. And he'll do it by luring Virginia's Republican traditionalists -- the ones Gilmore pissed off when he left Virginia's finances such a mess as governor, and the same ones who found themselves impressed with Mark Warner's prudent approach to governance. He'll add that 15% to his solid base of Democrats and moderates.
Gimore, on the other hand, received a strong signal from Virginia's Republicans when he was nominated to run by a squeaker today. From the Associated Press: Gilmore got only 50.3 percent of the delegate votes Saturday over conservative Bob Marshall, the Virginia General Assembly's most ardent foe of abortion and gay marriage. Guess who Gilmore has to curry favor from if he wants to even nudge the 50% line this fall? In his quest to keep the social conservatives in his corner, Gilmore will quickly lose what support he has in the middle.
Good luck, Gilmore. You're going to need it.