Richard Florida vs. Jerry Falwell

The Falls Church News-Press has issued a press release touting its top stories of the year. Leading the pack was the “rise of the creative class” in Northern Virginia and its role in propelling Tim Kaine to the Governor’s Mansion and snatching power from “the clutches of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and the religious right.”

The “creative class” is the term coined by Richard Florida, now a professor at George Mason University, to describe the growing ranks of artistically, scientifically and entrepreneurially creative individuals, along with associated highly educated professionals, who contribute disproportionately to wealth creation in the U.S. economy. Northern Virginia, home to one of the nation’s leading technology clusters, is dominated by these “creatives,” who tend to be more socially liberal than the rest of the population.

Sayeth the News-Press:

“The contiguous jurisdictions of Fairfax and Arlington counties, plus the independent cities of Alexandria, Falls Church and Fairfax provided Kaine with 102,663 of his total 113,340 statewide margin of victory, or 94% of the entire margin. Kaine won the entire rest of the state by only 10,677 votes, and that margin was more than accounted for by the City of Richmond, alone, where he’d served as mayor. The same Northern Virginia jurisdictions brought the Democratic lieutenant governor and attorney general candidates within a hair’s breadth of victory, statewide, as well.

“It was the overall shift in the demographic makeup of the Northern Virginia enclave over the last four years that was most responsible for Kaine’s victory, and the prospect of turning Virginia ‘blue’ once and for all.

“The balance of political control in Virginia has shifted away from the lairs of two of the nation’s most powerful institutions of the religious right– Jerry Falwell’s Lynchburg and Pat Robertson’s Virginia Beach — to a more tolerant, scientifically-minded and pragmatic bastion in Northern Virginia. This stunning defeat for the forces of Falwell and Robertson in their own state will also resonate nationally.

I just thought I’d throw out the red meat and see who bites. Any comments?

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13 responses to “Richard Florida vs. Jerry Falwell”

  1. valley iconoclast Avatar
    valley iconoclast

    there are two competing interpretations of the last election

    George Allen/Bolling – Kilgore lost because he did not excite his base and a return to hard nose conservative politics will produce base driven victories.

    Above post – demographic changes in NOVA are shifting the state to the political center. Moderate politicians who work for effective, good government can win regardless of party.

    The interesting thing is the lower ticket races. The two clear conservatives win, so that would seem to support the Allen/Bowling theory. But Byrne, an unabashed liberal and Deeds almost won.

    I think both are right. Kilgore turned off a lot of people and demographic changes in NOVA allowed Dems to pick up the slack. The problem with the Allen/Theory is that there is a definite cap on the number a base votes you can get, however there is no cap on new voters who move to NOVA

  2. You bring up Dr. Florida without mentioning the FAILED VaPAF in Richmond?

  3. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    All that campaigning by Falwell and Robertson … wasted.

    Kaine and the Democrats, to their credit, lashed Kilgore to these straw men, and Kilgore never gave many reasons to doubt the caricature.

    Running against Falwell and Robertson should be good for at least two more election cycles.

  4. Lucy Jones Avatar
    Lucy Jones

    What is the attraction to Pat Robertson? He seems more and more like a “kook” every time he says something public. I’ve never really followed him (my fav is Billy Graham) so I’m not up to date on his religious teachings but the guy is really out in space sometimes. That comment about Katrina being God’s answer to Jazz music really blows my mind…

    Am I misinformed or is he really this weird?

  5. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Over at Too Conservative, Del. Chap Peterson offers an interesting analysis on how Fairfax County has shifted from a Republican-leaning county to a Democratic leaning county. He suggests three causes: (1) the increase in the number of minorities; (2) a shift in the high-tech base from Defense to Internet/communications; and (3) the tendency of Fairfax voters to oppose the party in power in Richmond, which is now the GOP.

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    Richard Florida…?

    How about this?

    I’m not sure Florida’s theories are sound.

  7. NOVA Scout Avatar
    NOVA Scout

    This is a good stimulant for conversation, and there are some elements of validity to it but I have to start by noting, as a former resident of Falls Church, that Nick Benton’s (Publisher, Editor, Columnist, cub-reporter, typesetter, and, for all I know, deliverer of the Falls Church News Press) worldview is more wacked out left as Leslie Byrne’s, with a very strong anti-clerical element thrown in for good measure. If there are a hundred valid explanations of any negatie phenomenon, an one of them has a church, a Republican or both in it somewhere, that’s the one Nick will take.

    Let’s put aside the Reverend Messrs. Robertson and Falwell first. I had no strong sense during the election that either were straining themselves to have an impact. Obviously they had their favorites, but I did not detect a huge push from either camp. Whatever their influence in the Commonwealth on statewide elections, I doubt that it was significantly affected or particularly visible in the election.

    But on to the major point. The numbers and demographics are changing. On my way home this evening, I heard Charlie Cook on C-Span. He was addressing a symposium of campaign professionals at American University. Someone asked him about Virginia’s election. His views are so nearly mine, that I almost got into a shouting match with the car radio over plagiarism issues. So I’ll just attribute them to Charlie and get them in play here. The question from the floor was whether Bush’s problems were the reason Kilgore lost. Paraphrased as best I can remember, Cook’s response went something like this: There were any number of factors that led to the Republican loss, Bush’s declining popularity in the polls among them. another factor is Warner’s popularity coupled with the only one-term limitation, thus making the election something of a substitute way to give Warner a second term. But the real problem in Virginia is a Republican Party that has been coasting for years on the assumption that the state is sufficiently conservative that they can run anyone and win. The past GOP tactic of trying to minimize the margin of defeat in Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads [he said Tidewater, but context indicated he really means the more dense population centers] and central Richmond, while running up the score in the more rural areas won’t work very well any more. There were a lot of errors in the Kilgore campaing, but most were small (Cook cited direct mail to Arlington residents on widening I-66). The overarching problem is that the GOP in Virginia has to find a “whole new recipe” for appealing to the voters.” Cook also said that [again in paraphrase, quotes just indicating his material] “if I were a Republican in Virginia, the most disturbing thing about the election results would be Leslie Byrne, a one-term Congresswoman with no particular name identity outside of Northern Virginia, polling 48% [in fact I think it was more like 49.5% of the vote] of the vote. She is very liberal and very out of touch with what we assume are the values in Virginia. She was a cypher. Yet she nearly won. The guy who won for the Republicans [he didn’t mention Bolling by name]presumably will be running for Governor in 2009. The LG race is pretty low profile so it’s hard to say whether she got votes because she was a Democrat or because voters were reacting aginst the Republican. Most people don’t pay much attention to LG races. But the Republicans clearly felt they could assume that their guy would win on demographics. The state GOP is simply going to have to change.”

    This is analysis from a steady Republican pro who watches races all over the country. I don’t know if he lives in Virginia, but I found his view worth adding to the discussion here. Don’t want Nick Benton to have pride of place.

  8. Ray Hyde Avatar

    Jim: this is ore than throwing out the red meat. This is the blogging version of the Lions and The Christians.

    Even more interesting is that Florida does not live according to his theories.

    “The Washington Post’s Marc Fisher checks in with Mr. Florida now that he’s spent a year south of the Mason-Dixon line. “I figured I’d find Florida in a spectacular Logan Circle rowhouse, a Victorian paradise from which he could walk to just about anything. But no — the champion of urban vitality, after looking in Georgetown, Dupont and hot, hot Logan, has bought a house in Forest Hills, near the Hillwood Museum, in one of [Washington, D.C.’s] leafy, quiet, close-in neighborhoods. Florida’s house, a five-bedroom colonial built in 1978 on a hillside near Rock Creek Park, is a quarter-mile — an easy walk — from Connecticut Avenue’s shops and a Metro station but also comes with a two-car garage.”

    His main complaint about his neighborhood? There is no place to get the car serviced, and Too far from Costco.

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    “Kaine and the Democrats, to their credit, lashed Kilgore to these straw men, and Kilgore never gave many reasons to doubt the caricature.”

    Will — do you have any specific example of Kaine doing this? A single one?

    I ask this only because I never saw one. Maybe I am just missing the sarcasm, and if so, I apologize.

  10. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    No, I don’t have a single example I can point to this morning. I’m sorry I mentioned a tactic–tying Kilgore to the so-called “radical right”–that I thought was well known, whether or not Kaine specifically made the charge.

  11. Anonymous Avatar

    Well let’s take a look at what the record says about Mr. M. G. “Pat” Robertson. Since 1995 he’s given a total of $630,000 to vqrious candidates according to VPAP–I guess they no longer take vows of “poverty, chastity and obedience”?

    Pat gave McDonnell $46,000 and was his 5th largest giver. He gave Kilgore for Governor $47,500 (since 2002).

    I would think Robertson would qualify as “right wing” (or as others have noted just plain “weird”). I would expect with Pat’s reputation and with the type of campaign Kilgore and his group ran, no one had to “tie” Kilgore to that. Kilgore did it all himself.

    By the way, Robertson must have really disliked Bolling who received only a paltry $10,000.

  12. NoVA Scout Avatar
    NoVA Scout

    Someone more wired than I just informed me that you can get Charlie Cook’s words straight (without my awkward paraphrasing) by going to C-Span’s site ( and going to 45.37 on the realtime player there. It’s well worth the trip and it’s better to hear exactly what he said thatn to rely on my memory of what he said. (almost anything is better than relying on my memory about anything, actually).

  13. Anonymous Avatar

    Pat’s people weren’t out making public asses of themselves, but they definately were a big part of the base. Kaine’s folks did a great job out there of using this against Kilgore. It wasn’t a matter of tying Kilgore to them as much as it was using their own wedge issues against them. Kilgore’s mail and other pieces pushed hard on abortion. Kaine’s people in return hammered home the point that Kilgore himself had pretty much admitted that abortion was a non-issue in this election. Voters bought it, and it fit in quite nicely to the idea that Kilgore was a screechy lightweight who was scrambling for issues with which to divide the state rather than unite it under good governance.

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