Monday, December 29, 2008

Ol' Virginny is Dead

The opening days of 2009 are just around the corner, and with this new year comes a new blog: my blog, this blog. 2008 was an eventful year for politics in the Commonwealth of Virginia, bringing with it the death of "Ol' Virginny" and my first adventure into blogging. After some thinking over the holidays, I have decided I want to try blogging on my own.

I want to start blogging because we need more voices on the right that come to bury ol' Virginny, not to praise it. If there's any state where the rightroots can help rebuild the once Grand Old Party, it's Virginia, a state where where the left's netroots have already shown power and influence in the candidacy of Jim Webb. My due diligence as a citizen and a conservative is to help put Virginia and the GOP back on track.

First things first, ol' Virginny is dead. Virginia's GOP cannot be allowed to fool themselves into believing that they can simply bounce back from Barack Obama winning the Commonwealth in 2008. It's the same tom foolery that made them overconfident of McCain's chances of holding the state before the election.

Take a look at the numbers.

In 2004, George W. Bush defeated John Kerry by 1,716,959 to 1,454,742. An assortment of other candidates pulled in 26,666 votes. Four years later, John McCain brought home a very similar number to Bush, 1,725,005. But Barack Obama's vote total surged ahead to 1,959,532. The rest of the gang pulled in 38,723 votes, for a total of 3,723,260. The 2004 election had 3,198,367 total voters.

An increase of over half a million voters. John McCain received a grand total of 8,046 more votes than George W. Bush. Barack Obama brought home 504,790 more than John Kerry. Young voters, African-Americans, new transplants to Virginia, etc. New voters by this rough estimate made up 14% of voters.

The exit polls suggest a similar story, with 13% of the voters saying it was their first time voting ever. They favored Barack Obama over John McCain 63% to 35%.

The argument, propelled by the results of the Georgia Senate Runoff and the results of the Louisiana House Races, is that these new voters, devout followers of the Cult of Obama, will slowly fade away, make a brief reappearance in 2012, but will generally not impact races outside of the Presidential. That's a possibility nationwide, but it ignores the rest of the exit poll in Virginia: 87% had voted before, and they split evenly between Barack Obama and John McCain 50% to 49%.

Take away the new voters, roughly half a million split two to one in favor of Barack Obama, and you're still looking at a pool of 3.2 million voters in Virginia evenly split between Obama and McCain. That's a shift from the 2004 results, where Bush finished ahead of Kerry by 8 points. We have around 125,000 Bush-Obama voters floating around statewide, probably more when you consider the Kerry-McCain voters in Southwest Virginia. Virginia Republicans can't just wish the new voters away, they have to figure out how they lost voters to the Democratic Party.

To pretend that it's just new voters that will disappear ignores the trends in Virginia politics in recent years. Mark Warner in 2001, dragging along Timmy Kaine into the LG's spot. Kaine's own election in 2005. Jim Webb in 2006. The State Senate in 2007. Barack Obama, Mark Warner, Gerry Connolly, Glenn Nye, and Tom Perriello in 2008.

The problem is (almost) statewide, not confined to any one region (almost).

1st District:
McCain: +4,856 over Bush
Obama: +56,671 over Kerry

2nd District:
McCain: -4,372 behind Bush
Obama: +40,681 over Kerry

3rd District:
McCain: -7,053 behind Bush
Obama: +71,261 over Kerry

4th District:
McCain: +6,669 over Bush
Obama: +53,631 over Kerry

5th District:
McCain: +6,306 over Bush
Obama: +35,402 over Kerry

6th District:
McCain: +5,440 over Bush
Obama: +33,651 over Kerry

7th District:
McCain: +1,676 over Bush
Obama: +49,623 over Kerry

8th District:
McCain: -4,064 behind Bush
Obama: +44,678 over Kerry

9th District:
McCain: +6,562 over Bush
Obama: +6,558 over Kerry

10th District:
McCain: -2,873 behind Bush
Obama: +60,223 over Kerry

11th District:
McCain: -5,101 behind Bush
Obama: +52,411 over Kerry

The 9th District is the only silver lining, if that. Everywhere else, Obama picked up significant gains over John Kerry and left McCain either behind Bush or posting only minor gains.

The Democrats now control the Congressional Delegation from Virginia. They have both Senators for the first time in decades, and control six out of the eleven House seats. Two Democratic Congressmen, Boucher and Perriello, represent districts that voted for McCain. The rest of the Democratic delegation hails from districts that voted for Obama. Republicans Wolf and Forbes represent districts that voted for Obama.

So, the Republican Party of Virginia is at a low point. If they aren't careful, it could get even lower. A lot is on the line in 2009, the last round of state elections before redistricting. If the Democrats control redistricting, or at least are able to negotiate from a position of strength, their gains Congress could be reinforced and the 10th, the 4th, and perhaps even the 1st could be put into danger in 2012. The state legislature would shift even more to the left. Virginia's welcoming business climate would fall apart, leaving the state economically dependent on the federal government. Not that the Democrats would mind.

But there is also a great opportunity for the Republican Party of Virginia. They could start to turn the tide in 2009. The next few election cycles could return a Republican to the Governor's House, turn back the trend of Democratic gains in the House of Delegates, take back seats in the House of Representatives, defeat Jim Webb, and even turn Virginia red in the presidential election.

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