Much is being made of today's gubernatorial election here in Virginia as a bellwhether of the 2006 and 2008 elections. The Virginia electorate is almost evenly divided between urban and rural areas and as a result is thought by many to be a good predictor of national electoral trends. Since the state went for President Bush last year by nine points there is a feeling that this election will be a referendum on his presidency. Whether that's really the case is at best debatable.
If Democrat Tim Kaine wins today, it will be in part because of help he has received from popular Governor Mark Warner. Warner is himself a possible 2008 Presidential candidate. And while he is on the surface an attractive candidate, his popularity is in part due to a Republican-controlled General Assembly that worked closely with him to get his legislative agenda enacted. That will likely allow him to portray himself as somone who can work with both parties in the general election. Given these factors, Kaine should have been able to build a large lead. However, the race remains a statistical dead heat.
Whoever wins today will claim that this result will somehow show how next year's congressional elections should play out. I wouldn't bet on it.