Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Creigh Deeds' Long Coattails

I've been home almost an 90 minutes after working the Virginia election today. I'm an election official, a precinct chief for the precinct where I vote in Adria, Virginia (Tazewell County). It's been a depressing evening...

In my precinct the Republicans swept all six races. It'd been clear for a couple of weeks that either a.) the science of polling had collapsed or b.) Criegh Deeds was going to lose by a large margin. The polls were right. And while there are certainly a variety of factors in play that determined the outcome, the press and the commercial campaign strategy of Deeds seems to be the largest factor.

Republican Governor-elect Bob McDonnell is a Pat Robertson-style culture war Conservative who toned down his image some for the governor's race. McDonnell wanted to talk about transportation, infrastructure and the economy during the campaign. His plans on those issues met with criticsm from analysist, and under a Democratic governor Virginia has become the best managed state un the union. Deeds could have won on those issues. He decided, instead, to talk about McDonnell. And we heard over and over and over again about McDonnell's views on abortion, McDonnell's views on the role of women in society, McDonnell's appearances on the 700 Club, McDonnell's views on birth control within marriage, etc. It was negative. And it left everyone talking about McDonnell, not Deeds.

Democrats need to figure out that years ago they won the battle on abortion and women's rights, and that pushing it front and center now doesn't really get them anything. I'm not sure the Democratic core is as committed to the abortion issue today as it was in the past. I'm one of the more active, loyal members of my local Democratic Party. I don't really like abortion. I'd end 95% or more of all abortion if I could. I'm a serious enough student of the Bible to doubt that it makes the absolute, definitive statements on abortion that the Religious Right claims. The fact that I might only end 95% of all abortions makes me a baby-killing liberal to the Religious Right and a compromising hypocrite to the far left. I don't think I'm that unusual. Democrats also need to learn that they can't count on all women simply buying into a women's rights agenda. Women are not a homogeneous community.

Deeds had long coattails. His failure took a lot of other candidates down with him - all the way to the local level.

There are other issues. The political demographics of America are simple. Democrats have an urban power base. Republicans have a rural power base. The Democrats in Virginia in this election fielded a candidate for governor from a rural background in a bid to carry rural areas. The bid failed, and they lost urban voters in the process.

It didn't help that many of the federal issues being addressed by a Democratic President are controversial. Health care, Cap & Trade, economic policy in general - all illicit strong emotions from the Political Right. And the bottom line is that Virginia remains a Republican state. Democrats managed to hold the governor's mansion for eight years, to regain a hold on both US Senate seats, and to carry the state once in a row for a Democratic candidate for President. But the state legislature is a GOP body.

Tomorrow (or sometime soon) I may comment on more local considerations in this election.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now. Keep it up!
And according to this article, I tottaly agree with your opinion, but only this time! :)