State political observers say much depends on how McDonnell handles the revelation of what he wrote in the 1989 thesis at Regent University, in which he argues the harmful social impacts of working women, feminists and non-traditional families, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot reported Monday.
"As with anything else in politics, it's a piece of the mosaic that is created prior to Election Day," University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato told the newspaper. "The only question is how big a piece, and that's up to the candidates. If McDonnell handles it well and continues to talk it back, it could be a small piece."
Mark Rozell, George Mason University political science professor, told the Virginian-Pilot the thesis raises questions McDonnell will have to answer, adding, "This story casts him in a wholly different light for many people who did not know about McDonnell's past views on a variety of social issues. It is now much more than a charge from Democrats that 'Hey, this guy is an extremist,' when he had been so successful portraying himself as moderate."