Before it's election day, how do you determine when the race is probably over? Watch the candidates and supporters for signs.
Like this post from Blue Virginia, linking FiveThirtyEight.com.
I'd agree with Nate that any claims the Deeds-McDonnell race is a bellweather are ridiculous. How can you say "as Deeds goes so goes Obama" when Deeds is explicitly avoiding discussion of national issues?
When you think you're going to win, you pump it up. If you think you're going to lose, you dismiss the other side's spin that momentum's on your side.
The fact that Deeds is "explicitly avoiding discussion of national issues" is a bad sign for Obama, too. Is Obama's policies were popular with Virginians, Deeds would be riding the coattails. If he's treating Obama like Al Gore treated Bill Clinton, that speaks volumes also.