Category Archives: Elections

How Virginia Would Fare Under President Biden, Part 1

By DJ Rippert

And then there were two. Today, Elizabeth Warren announced that she will withdraw from the presidential race. That leaves Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard (yes, she’s still running) as the remaining candidates for the Democratic nomination. Given that Tulsi Gabbard has exactly one delegate (from American Samoa where she was born), the odds of her prevailing are so low that the race can safely be considered a two- man contest. Two weeks ago Joe Biden’s campaign seemed deader than disco. Then came Super Tuesday. Now he’s the front runner.

It seems worthwhile, then, to consider how Biden’s announced policies would affect Virginia if he were elected president this November. Politico keeps an updated list of the candidates’ positions on the issues which you can see here. Politico records the candidates’ positions using fifteen categories. This blog post examines the first five categories — criminal justice, economy (excluding taxes which is a separate category), education, elections and energy (including the environment and climate change). The remaining ten categories will be examined in future articles.

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Money Can’t Buy You Love (or Elections)

Source: FiveThirtyEight. Click to view larger image.

The 2020 election season has been fascinating to behold. Two billionaires, Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, attempted to purchase themselves the Democratic Party presidential nomination through massive advertising buys. Bloomberg supplemented his television and online ad buys by hiring every party operative in sight and setting up campaign offices everywhere.

“It is an open question whether Bloomberg’s investment in Virginia — unparalleled among his Democratic opponents — will translate into votes,” wrote the Washington Post last week. It’s an open question no longer. All that money bought him 127,000 votes, or about 9.7% of the total.

According to Business Insider, Bloomberg dropped $18 million on television and radio ads in Virginia, about 50 times what Biden spent — “and got demolished.”

Steyer has spent loads of money on cable TV ads in Virginia (I can’t find a specific number, but I’ve seen plenty of the ads) but snagged 1,586 votes in Virginia, or about 0.1% of the total. Continue reading

Takeaways on Biden’s Big Win

Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

By Peter Galuszka

Joe Biden prevailed in the Virginia Democratic primary Tuesday, showing that the state’s movement to the political left can go only so far.

The former vice president got 53% of the vote with Sen. Bernie Sanders snaring 23%,and Elizabeth Warren and Mike Bloomberg far behind. Nationally, Biden’s remarkable comeback on Super Tuesday has made him the leading Democrat, although Sanders isn’t gone yet. Here are some takeaways:

  • Political analysts in the state such as Steve Farnsworth, a professor at the University of Mary Washington, have said that while changing demographics have made the state bluer, it is far from California. The analysts are right, despite what a number of conservatives claim.
  • The turnout was large. That’s significant because if it is likewise large in November, it’s bad news for Donald Trump.
  • A number of state Democrats supported Biden at the last minute, worried that Sanders would be a giveaway to Trump.
  • Democratic leaders know that they must hold on to the gains they made in 2018 and 2019. Two key bellwethers are U.S. Reps. Abigail Spanberger of the 7th District and Elaine Luria of the 2nd District, who defeated prominent Republicans in 2018. If either of those two loses in November, it would be a big symbolic blow to moderate Democrats.
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Democrats Circled the Wagons, Propelling Biden to Big Virginia Victory

by Kerry Dougherty

Wow. What a difference 12 years makes.

During the 2008 Democratic primary in Virginia, when Sen. Barack Obama swept the commonwealth with 63.7% of the vote, Joe Biden, 65, straggled in with 0.1 percent. The senator from Delaware finished in 6th place that year, behind Hillary Clinton, John Edwards (remember him?), Dennis Kucinich and Bill Richardson.

Out of 986,203 votes cast in that historic primary, Biden got just 795.

It was a vastly different scenario last night when Biden roared to victory with about 53 percent of the vote, and a vote total of roughly 704,623.

Biden was the big Super Tuesday story, nationwide. The gaffe-prone 77-year-old exploded in primary after primary — including in Massachusetts, where Elizabeth Warren finished an embarrassing third and Biden edged out Bernie to come in first.

Bye-Bye, Bernie

Former Vice President Joe Biden led in every Virginia locality but Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, and Floyd. Map credit: Washington Post

by James A. Bacon

If a vote for Bernie Sanders is a vote for the radical restructuring of the American economy and society, yesterday’s 2020 primary elections in Virginia were highly revealing: Democratic Party voters in the Old Dominion aren’t looking for revolutionary change. For the most part, Virginia Democrats are “establishment” Democrats who embrace identity politics and limited income redistribution but not a wholesale demolition of existing institutions.

Aside from ultra-conservative Alabama, a lower percentage of Democratic Party voters — 23.1% — cast ballots for Sanders than in any other state. I don’t believe I am engaging in editorializing when I describe Sanders, who has evinced a nostalgia for far-left regimes abroad and advocated Medicare for all, free college tuition, destruction of the fossil fuel industries, massive tax increases, and the virtual expropriation of billionaire wealth, as a far-left candidate. Two of the Virginia localities where Sanders won a majority were — surprise, surprise — Charlottesville and Harrisonburg, both college towns. A third, Floyd County, is a haven for aging hippies.

As bright, pulsating, police-siren blue as Northern Virginia is electorally speaking, it is Deep State blue, not overthrow-the-established-order blue. Biden trounced Sanders by nearly three-to-one margins in Alexandria and Arlington, and two-to-one margins in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties. Continue reading

Updates: Electoral College, Carbon Tax, Tax Reform

The benches along this sidewalk are still missing, having been removed for the gun rights rally. Can we have them back for next week’s February Thaw?  Please.

By Steve Haner

Catching up on several issues previously discussed, with links to the original posts:

Virginia’s 2020 Electoral Votes Still Ours to Award. Pending legislation to enact the National Popular Vote regime has now failed in both House and Senate committees, although nothing is really dead in this process until final adjournment in March.  The House bill died in House Privileges and Elections Friday, with three Democrats joining nine Republicans to reject. The Senate version was stricken at the request of the patron a few days earlier. The National Popular Vote is an interstate compact of states agreeing to grant their electoral votes to the presidential candidate with the highest national total vote, but it only kicks in once enough states to control the outcome have joined. Perhaps the idea of Virginia’s electoral votes going to Donald J. Trump, without regard to Virginia’s vote, finally occurred to some Democrats. But complaints about the Electoral College persist and so will this idea.

Secretary of Natural Resources on Transportation and Climate Initiative. Twice last week Secretary of Natural Resources Matt Strickler faced questions from Republican legislators about the state’s plans with regard to the proposed interstate compact on fossil fuels used in cars and trucks. Continue reading

Virginia Rated Worst State for Partisan Gerrymandering

By DJ Rippert

They’ll be back (in office forever). The USC Schwarzennegger Institute released a report finding that Virginia had the highest degree of partisan gerrymandering among all U.S. states. The report analyzed the “statewide popular vote in 2017 or 2018 state legislative elections and the partisan composition of the state legislative chambers in 2019.” While other studies draw somewhat different results, Virginia is often near the top of the list of “most gerrymandered states.” In mid-2019 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lawsuit by Virginia voters challenging Virginia’s voting districts on racial grounds.

As the USC report states, “Self-interested legislators who seek reelection have long attempted to draw their own districts to protect their personal reelection chances and to improve the electoral odds of their political party.” Repeating for emphasis, Virginia is not only one of many states with extreme gerrymandering, it is rated by this study as the most extreme case of partisan gerrymandering. This is no accident. It is the result of deliberate actions by members of our General Assembly hailing from both parties.

Partisan gerrymandering is a form of voter suppression and disenfranchisement. It should not be allowed and Virginia should certainly never be the worst offender. Beyond that, the Virginia Constitution states, “Every electoral district shall be composed of contiguous and compact territory and shall be so constituted as to give, as nearly as is practicable, representation in proportion to the population of the district.” A state does not become the worst example of partisan gerrymandering in the United States by using contiguous and compact districts. Once again our General Assembly’s actions show that they believe laws are for the little people and not for themselves. Continue reading

West Virginia Offers to Incorporate Disaffected Virginia Counties

By DJ Rippert

Almost heaven. West Virginia state legislator Gary Howell is spearheading an effort to allow Virginia jurisdictions frustrated by Richmond a chance to join West Virginia. While this might seem like gimmickry, Howell claims that “43 out of 100 West Virginia house members are sponsoring a resolution that would let West Virginia accept some of the largely rural Virginia counties unhappy with how things are being run in Richmond.” More specifically, West Virginia State Senator Charles Trump (no relation, I don’t think) has invited Frederick County, Va., to cross over to the Mountain State. An editorial in the Roanoke Times says Sen. Trump is on “firm legal ground.” A good summary of the matter written by Hoppy Kercheval, dean of West Virginia talk radio, can be found here.

Plantation elite. Before West Virginia’s offer is pushed aside as nonsense, it makes sense to examine some of the history behind such a proposition. After all, as Kercheval points out, western Virginians getting fed up with Richmond-based rule is not exactly a new or unique thought. In my mind, Virginia has long been under the yoke of a minority of Virginians from the plantations of central and southeast Virginia. This “plantation elite” are led by families who claim to be descended from Pocahontas and who further self-define themselves as “the first families of Virginia.” Continue reading

Virginia tax increases: Outlook for 2020

By Don Rippert

Promises, promises. As Virginia’s new Democratic majority in the General Assembly starts to take power, three issues emerge. First, many of the winning Democratic candidates promised deeper and broader social benefits from the state. Expanded Medicaid, more money for K-12, more money for higher education, more money for green initiatives, etc. Second, few of the winning Democratic candidates spent any time describing just how these expanded social benefits would be financed. Politics as usual. Third, regardless of their expressed political philosophy, the vast majority of Virginians do not want to pay higher taxes. What now? Will the Democrats stick with reforms that don’t require new taxes or move into change areas which can only be implemented with “mo’ money”? If the latter, will the Democratic majority transparently raise taxes or engage in opaque budget trickery?

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Will VA Now Help Kill the Electoral College?

Where the National Popular Vote Compact stands: Passed in 16 states, passed one chamber in seven more.  Source: National Popular Vote

By Steve Haner

Add this to the pile of really bad ideas that now have a chance to pass in New Blue Virginia: Allowing California and New York to decide how to cast Virginia’s electoral votes.

Since millions who slept through government class were stunned to learn in 2016 that the popular vote doesn’t pick a president, efforts have been growing to bypass the Electoral College process. According to the folks at National Popular Vote, sixteen states with 196 electoral votes have voted to dis-enfranchise their people, and in several others at least one legislative chamber has agreed.

The Virginia General Assembly simply ignored House Bill 2422 during the 2019 Session. Its three sponsors, Northern Virginia Democrats Mark Levine, Kay Kory and Marcus Simon, will surely be back with a longer list of sponsors for 2020, and a House Privileges and Elections Committee with a Democratic majority.  Continue reading

This Says It All: In Just Four Years

This says it all – from J. Miles Coleman, at Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball. I saw it this morning on The Bull Elephant, which focuses on Loudoun. Would Virginia Beach and Henrico look the same? If you have any doubts the Trump era has produced a true realignment, dispel them. SDH

NoVa Rules Now

This electoral map published by the Virginian-Pilot is a bit dated, but it shows the dominance of Northern Virginia in House of Delegates districts that elected Democrats last week.

by James A. Bacon

The big shift in power in the General Assembly does more than put Democrats in control of the state legislature. It gives Northern Virginia more power than ever before. Northern Virginians taking senior leadership positions in the General Assembly in January include:

  • Sen. Richard Saslaw, D-Fairfax, Senate Majority Leader
  • Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax Station, Speaker of the House
  • Del. Charniele L. Herring, D-Alexandria, House Majority Leader
  • Del. Richard C. Sullivan, D-Fairfax, Democratic Caucus chairman

Just as significant, roughly half the Democratic Party caucus hails from Northern Virginia. In the Age of Trump, Northern Virginia has become a politically blue monoculture. In many NoVa districts, Republicans didn’t even run candidates.

So, here’s a question: To what degree will Northern Virginians elected officials vote their liberal/progressive philosophical inclinations and to what degree will they vote their geographic interests? Continue reading

There Was No Republican Message. None.

From Blue Virginia at the end. Without dispute, he is best Democratic turnout generator in history.

By Steve Haner

You know Virginia has changed when being labeled a socialist by your opponent is less damaging than being labeled a Republican.

That’s the opening line for my short essay on what happened November 5, which as far as I can tell has already been analyzed 345 other times in various publications, including several times here on Bacon’s Rebellion. Most of the authors have never written or executed a campaign plan. But I said I’d share my thoughts.

The bottom line is Democrats had a message about what their election would mean for Virginia. Republicans then ran against that message, amplifying it substantially, and thereby assured a huge turnout of the most liberal Democrats. At the same time, Republicans offered no message to turn out their own less-motivated supporters or excite their potential donors, state or national. They certainly offered no vision to woo swing voters.  Continue reading

What Will Clean Virginia Be Asking For?

By Steve Haner

“Do you actively support efforts to reduce corruption in government?”   

Of course, any candidate presented with that question will reply yes. What do you expect?  “No, I’m quite passive about corruption in government. Live and let live.”

That was one of the softball questions on the Clean Virginia candidate survey form, which will be taking on added significance given the number of Clean Virginia-funded and endorsed candidates who were successful  Tuesday. You can read the full questionnaire here, and potential 2021 candidates are advised to print it out and start a file on coming roll call votes.  Continue reading

Republicans Must Find a New Way Forward

by James A. Bacon

Virginia is a blue state now. Not only do Democrats occupy all statewide elected positions — two U.S. senators, governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general — with yesterday’s election, they control both houses of the General Assembly.

Republicans got their booties  kicked. And the butt-stomping is not likely to subside. The Dems will control the next redistricting, which will cement their dominance of the legislature. Auguring well for the blue team in the future, the fastest-growing region of the state, Northern Virginia, now is pure blue with bits  of purple on the exurban fringe. By contrast, Republican strongholds in rural Virginia have shrinking or stagnant populations. Also favoring Democrats in the long run is the increasing percentage of racial/ethnic minorities in the state and the declining percentage of whites.

Republicans need to re-define who they are and what they stand for, or they will become a permanent minority. News reports say that dislike of Donald Trump drove Democratic voter turnout, but the Blue Tide is much broader and deeper than voter animus of one man. Take Trump out of the equation after the 2020 election, and Virginia Republicans still have a huge problem.

Can the Republicans re-calibrate? I certainly hope so, because I’m terrified of the Democratic Party agenda of $15 minimum wage, spiking the right-to-work law, a damn-the-torpedoes-full-speed-ahead rush to a 100% renewable electric grid, spending and taxing, taxing and spending, and injecting its grievance-and-victimhood agenda into the consideration of every issue. But Republican priorities on culture war issues — guns, abortion, transgenders — are not winning issues statewide. As long as Republicans remain captive to its rural/small-town base, I don’t see how it can reinvent itself.

What does a rejuvenated Republican Party look like? (Or, if the GOP is incapable of reinventing itself, what does a successor party look like?) Continue reading