Ruminations on Election 2009

I haven’t spent the last two weeks drawing up a j’accuse analysis of the election, but I thought I would offer a few random thoughts on the recent election.

It takes some mighty big cojones to put your name in front of the public and out in public. My hat is off to all those who ran, regardless of party or result.  Congrats to the winners, condolences to the others.  And to all I recommend the paraphrased wisdom of Winston Churchill: During the campagin- Resolution; In Defeat- Defiance; In Victory-Magnanimity; When the Polls close-Good Will

I suspect we won’t see a home-grown candidate from the Western part of the state any time soon.  After the Kilgore 2005 and Deeds 2009 campaigns there will be hesitation.  It’s more than just the accent.  When Tom Davis said Creigh Deeds didn’t talk the NoVA language, he didn’t mean accent.  Davis meant that concerns in NoVA are so very different than the Western part of the state that Deeds just was not in touch with it…and this same percieved lack of connection will keep western virgina candidates off statewide ballots for at least ten years.  Possible exception-Mark Obenshain from Harrisonburg.

I also suspect that from now on it will be one and done in statewide efforts.  You lose a statewide general election campaign, you are going to have to wait a while before you get another shot.  The GOP learned that lesson in 1981/85 with Wyatt Durette and 1981/89 with Marshall Coleman, now the Dems get their chance.

 The campaign showed that yet again voters respond to issues that are closest to them.  You can argue for social issues and the like in a good economy, but when things are tight those issues fall to the wayside.

Both parties are cauldrons of disparate elements that work well together heading to the mountain top…but once they get there, these same elements are difficult to keep together as a consistent coalition.

If you don’t establish your candidate’s story early in the process, your opponent will gladly do it for you.  Moreover, negative attacks will not hold up unless a candidate has already established his personal credibility.

Tim Kaine will not suffer the same political reversal as did Jim Gilmore in a similar position in 2001.  Why?  Kaine is not tied to a policy initiative that was not completed in the same way Gilmore was.  Also, folks like Tim Kaine, who may well still be BFF with Obama.  Watch for Kaine to join the Obama cabinet, perhaps as soon as after the mid-term elections.

There is plenty of Twitter traffic and after action reviews by democrats that are demonizing the concept of the moderate/conservative democrat.  However, the Deeds campaign was so poorly run I think the Virginia Blue Dog Dem will continue to live in the Dem tent without being tarred by the Deeds brush.

Norm Leahy suggests the big story is the Cooch win.  He is correct.  While the Dems fight over Lib/Mod, the GOP will fight over Mod/Con/mondoCon.  Any doubts on this?  Go here and see the back and forth over Cooch, conservatism, etc., that was taking place before the polls closed yesterday.

The Democrat HOD/GA branch is weak.  The last time a Democrat w/roots in the GA won a statewide general election was…1989 (Wilder/Terry).  Since then, statewide Dem winners are: Don Beyer (1993), Robb (1994), M. Warner (2001, 2008), Kaine (2001, 2005), and Webb (2006).  Even the new break through Dem congressman in 2008 were not Children of the GA.

The GOP HOD/GA branch has some strength.  In that same time period GOP GA members who have won statewide elections include Allen, Earley, McDonnell, Bolling, and Cuccinelli…as well as non-GA candidates Gilmore, Kilgore, Hager, and John Warner (who is pretty much in his own unique class).

The GOP should hope the Democrats turn to Gerry Connolly in 2013.  The GOP should hope the Democrats do not turn to Chap Petersen in 2013.

The Democrats shot themselves in the foot yesterday in many ways, but the most fundamental is that the Warner/Kaine years have not created a record that could be run on…and this consideration is one that is being overlooked as folks talk about surges, waves, a different electorate than in 2008, etc.

Finally-for now-I understand why Democrats and Media folks are saying the election yesterday was not a referendum on President Obama.  After all, in most polls 70% or so of folks said he was not the primary driver in their decision.  However, when the #1 concern of voters (as per exit polling) in both Virginia and New Jersey was the economy-which is very much a national issue-I think anyone who truly believes that Obama  and his policies played no significant role in yesterday’s elections is whistling past the graveyard.


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