Sunday, June 11, 2017

Virginia is Back at the Center of the Political Universe - Vote Northam

Our home - Ralph Northam Hampton get out the vote operations
Living in Virginia can be politically exhausting given the fact that we have important elections every year, not that many voters seem to pay much attention.  Getting out the vote is a never ending task year after year and the husband and I find ourselves on numerous host committees for fundraisers. This year's Democrat primary for the 2017 gubernatorial candidate is no exception.  WE ARE BACKING RALPH NORTHAM in every way that we can (Perriello is very weak on LGBT rights issues, not to mention that he's changed his position on almost every issue).  Last weekend and and again from yesterday through Tuesday night (Tuesday is the actual primary) our home is the Hampton base for the Northam get out the vote effort in this city.  We have had literature drop volunteers in and out of the house and phone banking volunteers here from morning to night (the first will arrive today at 8:00 am) with our kitchen staged with food and snacks for all of the volunteers.  The husband and I have even been filmed for a Ralph Northam campaign ad that will run at some point.  What is maddening is how so few people seem to be paying attention despite the huge impact the occupant of the Governor's mansion has on everyday life.  As the Washington Post notes, all of the campaigns are faced with voter in attention.  Here are excerpts:
On Tuesday, Virginians will pick one Republican and one Democrat to go head-to-head in November’s election for governor. The contest is shaping up to be the nation’s first competitive statewide race of the Trump era. But it’s more than that.
The outcome could point the way forward for two major political parties torn by populist ­establishment infighting. It will test whether the forces rocking Washington will consume state-level races. And it will show whether Democratic fury at Trump materializes at the polls — something that could turn the 2018 midterms into a wave election.
But first comes the primary. And canvassers for the three Republicans and two Democrats competing for the nominations are finding an electorate that seems largely tuned out.
“I tend to think the worst possible place for a candidate to become known is in the middle of the Donald Trump presidency,” said Stephen J. Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington. “News out of Washington has become an extraordinary obsession these last six months, and that makes it virtually impossible even for candidates for governor to get all that much media and public attention.”
About a month before the primary, fewer than 2 in 10 Democratic-leaning and Republican-leaning voters said they were paying “very close” attention to the governor’s race, and a significant number were undecided, a Washington Post-Schar School poll found.
“All these things at the national level have sucked all the local energy out of the room,” said Sharma, who after a little research settled on Northam.
The outcome of the Democratic contest will hinge on turnout, political strategists say. Northam would benefit from a smaller electorate made up of longtime party stalwarts, who skew older. A surge of young people and progressives inflamed against Trump could help Perriello. Both campaigns are chasing the African American vote, which could make up as much as 25 percent of the electorate.
The Democratic race probably will turn on the voter-rich Washington suburbs, where neither Northam nor Perriello has a natural base. Northam is from the Eastern Shore; Perriello is from Charlottesville.
Voter participation always drops sharply in Virginia’s off-year elections, especially for late-spring primaries. In 2008, nearly a million voters cast ballots in Virginia’s Democratic presidential primary. The next year, just 319,168 Democrats, or 6.3 percent of registered voters, turned out for the party’s hard-fought primary for governor.
This is the first time in Virginia history that both parties are holding contested primary elections for governor on the same day, said Geoffrey Skelley of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. (Some years, the parties opt for nominating conventions instead.) That could help boost turnout.
Skelley sees signs of life on the Democratic side, with requests for absentee ballots twice as high in that party’s primary as in the Republican contest. Voters have requested nearly as many absentee ballots for Tuesday’s Democratic primary as they did for their party’s March 2016 presidential primary — 26,783 this year compared with 28,412, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Republicans have requested 13,882 ballots compared with 27,569 for the March 2016 presidential primary.
The lopsidedness could reflect the relative competitiveness of the Democratic contest: Polls show Northam and Perriello in a tight race while Gillespie has enjoyed a double-digit lead over Stewart and Wagner.
In the homestretch, the candidates are trying to stay visible and get their voters to the polls. Each campaign takes a different approach, depending on financial resources, political ties — and the personalities of the candidates.  The contrast is most stark among the Republicans.
On the Democratic side, the financial picture is also lopsided — Northam had $1.3 million available as of June 1, while Perriello had $734,000 — but both have enough to air TV ads.
Both also have big-name backing. Northam has a lock on Virginia’s elected Democrats while Perriello has nationally prominent progressives.
Northam’s team can count on canvassers from the state’s gun control, abortion rights and gay rights groups as well as the state’s Democratic heavy hitters: on Saturday, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) gathered with Warner and Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) to launch door-knockers for Northam across Northern Virginia.
As all five campaigns make their final push, some see an opportunity in those blank stares.
“There are people who are saying ‘I don’t even know about the candidates,’ ” said Brown, Stewart’s Shenandoah Valley field director. “They can be persuaded. . . . You can rally some people into going and voting.”

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