The musings of one Andrew Langer - defender of liberty, passionate protector of individual rights, foodie. (Note: Said Musings of Andrew Langer are his own, and the views represented herein are likewise his views, and not the views of any other people, entities, foodstuffs, etc [unless otherwise specifically and explicitly noted].)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A Few Thoughts on the Virginia Election

Listening to reporting on the Virginia election this morning, I really wasn't surprised by the attempts to spin the Kilgore defeat as somehow a reflection on President Bush. Granted, there is some exit polling that suggests that in Northern Virginia (which was Kaine's stronghold anyway) there was a great deal of party crossover, but that's not tremendously surprising, either.

But I do think that attempts to paint the Virginia (or even New Jersey or California) elections as somehow reflecting on the White House are misplaced. I offer the following:

First, since the early 1970s, Virginia has shown a trend of voting for the party that is not in power in the White House when it comes to gubernatorial elections. This is one of the reasons why trying to link Democratic success to GOP polling numbers is misplaced - for instance, when President Bush's approval numbers were in the 80s in 2001, Mark Warner still won the governorship.

Second, there was no "sea change". Were voters truly dissatisfied with the GOP, then there would have been much more of a pervasive change amongst lower offices. At the time of this writing, however, the GOP has control of the 2nd and 3rd top spots in the state (taking the #2 Lt. Governorship away from Democrat hands, in fact), and the GOP maintains control of the Virginia House of Delegates.

Third, the GOP had a weak candidate, and the Democrats a strong one. If all politics are personal, as Newt Gingrich has said, then the voters' connection to candidates is especially so. Field a weak candidate (Bob Dole, John Kerry), and no matter how voters might be dissatisfied with an incumbent or incumbent party, then they aren't going to connect and cast their votes for that candidate. And when the incumbent party does have high approval numbers, it makes the desire to switch even less palatable.

Kilgore's campaign lacked focus. In fact, that lack of focus crystalizes a weak spot that many Republicans ought to make note of. Lose focus and the GOP loses the very edge it has had over the Democrats for over a decade now.

So, despite the spin, there really isn't anything new here. No great sea change or revolution took place - in Virginia, or anywhere else for that matter. New Jersey remained in Democrat hands and New York City stayed with a "Republican" mayor. From a national perspective, the only really surprising results were the Ohio ballot intiatives. Honestly, I don't know much about them, but I think the Democrats were very surprised that they were defeated.

The ultimate lesson is that the GOP needs to stay focused on the issues, craft an agenda, and move that agenda into 2006 and 2008. And rather than watch Mark Warner, GOP eyes should be on Tim Kaine - he's much more formidable.

- Andrew Langer


Blogger Andrew Langer said...

An additional comment...

I was giving a speech last night, and someone pointed out the following to me: not only wasn't there this Democratic sea-change, in fact, the GOP re-took the #2 slot from the Democrats. This isn't to be sneezed at, as the Lieutenant Governor's position is one that has the power to break ties in the state senate.

So, another point to be added to the list above.

- Andrew

November 11, 2005 9:38 AM


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