The Commonwealth of Virginia's Ultimate Blog

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Sad Truth: A lot of Virginians just don't care...

The discussion of what Sen. Herring's blowout win over Mick Staton means has begun over at Commonwealth Conservative, which links to similar discussions.

There'll be lots of opinions, each right in its own way, and each also wrong. So with that as a preamble, here's my take:

There's an old saw in politics: In any given election, each side will win 40% of the vote, and the contest is over that middle 20%. Certainly this is true in Loudon County, which even though it supported Kaine was (until recently) a solidly Republican County. So when one candidate gets less that 40%, it's a sign something is seriously wrong.

However, unlike in some other special elections, here I don't think the problem was necessarily an ideological split within the Republican Party. If anything, it was a problem with how Republicans have been approaching elections recently, both here in Virginia and nationally.

It seems as though Republicans can't help but nationalize every election. During the governor's race, we couldn't talk about anything except abortion and the death penalty (which sounds a lot like 2001, when you think about it). The Democrat talked about fiscal solvency, transportation, etc. Both times, the Democrat won. In the special election, even though Staton tried to talk about transportation, even the conservative blogs couldn't help but talk about Dick Black.

At some point, Republicans are going to have to realize that, while the base loves talking about abortion, the death penalty, and other social issues, the "center" (especially in Northern Virginia) honestly doesn't care. All they want is to be able to get to and from work, not pay too much in property taxes, and be able to send their kids to decent schools. That, and the trips to soccer practice, baseball practice, swim lessons and church on Sunday, and that's all most people have time/energy to care about.

It may be hard to believe, esp. if you believe abortion is murder, but the reality is the "center" just doesn't care that much about it. "Legal but infrequent" probably sums up the position. Unless Republicans learn how to talk to people who really don't care that much about politics again, we are going to continue to lose -- maybe not all at once, but slowly over time.


Blogger Will Vehrs said...

I think you've hit this just right.

While I respect the pro-life position, their zeal should be directed toward changing hearts and minds through persuasion and good works outside of government. Their continuing efforts to legislate on the issue is hurting the Republicans without doing their cause any good at all.

12:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, I ask someone, anyone, to point to any single abortion related proposal by Jerry Kilgore in the last campaign? I urge you to show me all the campaign literature on the issue?

The fact is that he avoided the issue as much as possible...and when he was pressed (remember the great Fairfax debate) his answer sucked. He didn't have a single social issue mentioned on his website until the last weeks of the campaign, and then it was really extreme: I support marriage and I'm pro-life. Yikes! Scary. Except for the fact that Kaine said the exact same thing.

The fact is that Kilgore lost because he sucked as a candidate. He couldn't articulate "hello" without stumbling over his words. He inspired absolutely no one. His policy proposals were almost as bad as his accent.

Black lost because he didn't campaign until the last 2 weeks and, yes, admittedly, NOVA is much more like Maryland now than the rest of the state. That D's are winning up there is no surprise.

Can Republicans win in Virginia and maintain their principles? Can pro-life Republicans win in Virginia? Absolutely? Can abortion be the ONLY issue they talk about...NO. That would be stupid. But they are going to have to talk about it if they want the base to come out and vote.

Oh, and by the way, maybe someday we'll have a candidate for statewide office who tries to change minds through articulate discussion! Anyone who was alive in 1980 can remember Regean talking about ending communism and being laughed at by nearly everyone. But he convinced people he was right. I know we have no more Regeans, especially in the GOP, but it's nice to dream that we might someday have a candidate who believes in something enough to try to convince people he/she is right instead of running for cover at the first negative op-ed.

Thanks for letting me vent.

Oh, and by the way, Virginia sucks.

12:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You suck, anon- and Virginia hates you too.

2:13 PM

Anonymous Waldo Jaquith said...

I ask someone, anyone, to point to any single abortion related proposal by Jerry Kilgore in the last campaign? I urge you to show me all the campaign literature on the issue?

He talked endlessly and poorly about the death penalty, an issue that stirs the same passions, is similarly divisive, and that central 20% is similarly uninterested in. The author's point stands.

3:31 PM

Anonymous Louis XIV said...

Okay...Valentine whomps up on a "moderate" Republican in Lynchurg/Amherst. Montgomery darn near whips Pease in the Republican-friendly 97th, and Herring obliterates "conservative" Staton in the 33rd Senate District. All since Jaanuary 1st. Does that tell you something?

In the words of Vance Wilkins "Apres moi, le deluge."

3:54 PM

Blogger GOPHokie said...

A pro-life stance is important to get the social conservatives to the ballot box, but a solution to transportation problems and growth is what will win elections in NOVA going forward.

4:31 PM

Blogger valleyconservative05 said...

Yes God, Guns, and Gays are important to the social base but they no longer win statewide elections. Why? Because Tim Kaine claimed to be pro-life, pro-guns, and opposed to gay marriage. My goodness, last night Kaine started his address by discussing his missionary past. Tim Kaine may not practice what he preaches but he does preach. During the election Kaine discussed fiscal responsibility,transporation solutions, and education along with lower taxes. What does he do when he gets into office? He proposes a tax increase. What do we hear from the Republicans about this? Northing, absolutely nothing, except for a few moderates that agree with Kaine. To the average voter both Warner and Kaine appear to be pro-family conservative candidates with a reasonble plan and social conservative republicans appear to be pro-family with no other plan in sight. This God, Guns, and Gays, strategy is offically dead in NOVA and probably headed for the same demise statewide if the Va Republicans cannot find common ground in the state house and get their acts together.

7:30 PM

Blogger Sam McCord said...

I'm with you all the way VC. When we brand ourselves as the pro-life, pro-gun, pro-death penalty, and anti-tax party we're sure to win.

As long as we succeed in branding the other guy as the opposite. We failed in '01, '03, and '05.

The traditional wedge issues still exist, but we can't fool ourselves into thinking they bring us victory.

I still think, more or less, guns, God, and gays (and taxes)and GROWTH will be the heart of our winning strategy in '07 and '09 but these principles need to be well packaged.

8:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loudoun NOT London
Watch a significant change in the
behavior of the GOP Majority especially Lori - They are in trouble with the general election electorate if they don't know it by now.

6:03 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

can someone explain to waldo the difference between the death penalty and abortion!

as i said, kilgore sucked as a candidate and his decision to run on the death penalty is just one example.

again, you can win as a pro-life republican if that isn't the only issue you run on but you stay firm on that issue and articulate clear and non-threatening reasons why.

3:36 PM


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