Wednesday, November 04, 2015

A Silver Lining in Virginia's Election Results

While Republicans maintained their hold on the Virginia Senate and thus will likely block Medicaid expansion and other progressive measures proposed by Governor McAuliffe, they did not increase their overall seat count and saw loses in the House of Delegates and in other lower tier elections.  It also must be noted that since 2015 is an off year with low voter turnout, the GOP's ability to largely hold back losses does not mean that things will be rosy in the GOP bubble come next year, especially of the GOP nominates a lunatic as its standard bearer.  Over at Bearing Drift, Brian Schoeneman, one of the few sane Republicans left looks at the dark spots - that Democrats need to capitalize on - in the GOP's election results.  Here are highlights:
One of the reasons why your average voter has a tendency to hate politicians is that we often do our best to bring out the silver lining in even the darkest of storm clouds.  We will find the one or two good outcomes in a sea of bad ones and focus on those rather than on the big picture.  That’s a human tendency, especially when anybody’s job is on the line.

On the other hand, I’ve always been of the opinion that the truth is better than spin, and that as adults we should be willing to accept the bad with the good, because an unwillingness to confront things that didn’t go so well is an inherent obstacle to fixing those things the next time around.  Given that we’ve got a presidential cycle just around the corner, we need to look objectively at what happened last night in Virginia and have a long conversation about what it actually means.  So let’s throw away the posturing and be honest.

By any objective measurement, the GOP had a bad night  The only news story that most of America saw last night – the one that was blasted out by Politico, CNN and the non-Virginia news outlets – was that we held the State Senate, which threw a wrench into Governor McAuliffe’s long-term legislative plans.  Medicaid expansion is dead, as are his misguided attempts at turning guns into a political issue in a staunchly pro-gun Commonwealth. 

But what did the wins in the State Senate mean?  We maintained the status quo.  That’s it.

Maintaining the status quo in the Senate was a must win, and we won it.  But we gained no ground, and the millions poured into the Commonwealth by outside groups didn’t have an overall impact on the final outcome.  In the two races they targeted, they went 1-1.  The only people really pleased with that outcome should be the TV stations in Richmond and Northern Virginia.  On the House of Delegates side, we lost ground overall. 

Northern Virginia, however, should be concerned – our power in the House just dropped considerably.  We lost control of the House Transportation Committee and we lost two Republican seats that are now in Democratic hands, and thus marginalized.  And losing GOP incumbents in Northern Virginia before a presidential election is a bad thing – we lose the network, the lists, the activist contact with an incumbent.  All those things matter.  And now they’re gone.  

On the local level, the constant in-fighting and back-biting among different sectors of the Republican Party tore up areas that had previously been considered Republican strongholds.  . . .  Despite the feeling that this was a Republican year on the ground in Fairfax, all of our challenger candidates for Board of Supervisors lost and the open seat race in my home Sully District was a GOP loss, flipping that seat to the Democrats. 

The biggest loser of the night – by far – was the Republican Party of Virginia.  Early this morning, RPV sent out a self-congratulatory email that was long on self-praise but short on facts.  It was, if anything, an obvious attempt (and clearly pre-election results written) at turd polishing by Chairman John Whitbeck, going into this reelection campaign next year.  Despite the fact that we maintained the status quo and our messaging didn’t really work  . . . .

Whatever GOP momentum we may have built up was just released last night with a resounding “meh,” after losing a lot of races that folks thought we would do well in.  Let’s be honest – not flipping a single Senate seat Blue to Red is not momentum. As for RPV’s vaunted “Faces of the GOP” campaign – straight out of 2007’s Corporate Public Relations playbook – it was a disaster.  Of the 20 Republican races profiled, 14 of the candidates lost. 

Last night must be viewed by every Republican in Virginia as a wake up call.  The idea that we can win “base,” low-turnout off-year elections just by turning out Republicans should have died last night.  Wherever we nominated a candidate who didn’t reflect their district, we lost.  We lost two critical seats in Northern Virginia that will make next year’s presidential race harder to run.  And, most important, we saw obvious examples in Loudoun that the constant in-fighting between sections of the GOP has real world implications – and those implications are bad.  Bottom line – we had a bad night and we have a lot of work to do.

Will the Virginia GOP accept this message?  I doubt it since the Party more and more lives in an alternate universe dominated by the Christofascists, white supremacists and ignorance embracing elements  of the party base.

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