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Anger at Doug Wilder Cost VA Democrats a Golden Opportunity

by: Goldmanusa

Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 15:31:58 PM EST


by Paul Goldman

The new Virginia poll, which finds that "Virginia voters, by wide margins, want to retain the state's landmark one-handgun-a-month law," underlines a major mistake being made by Virginia Democrats in high places: namely, they are letting their anger - my word - with Doug Wilder cloud their judgment on this issue.

One-handgun-a-month was a signature achievement of Doug Wilder as Governor. In turn, the failure of Creigh Deeds to support the law led to Wilder not supporting Deeds for Governor, as the Senator had pledged to sign a repeal.

It turns out Mr. Deeds was way wrong on the issue, according to the voters. And Democrats are also way wrong not to figure out a way to work with Wilder to highlight this issue.

Which raises a broader question, whether Democrats are being far too timid in their opposition to the GOP now in control of the State Senate. It also raises the question of whether Democrats can afford to go to a convention system, as opposed to having another primary, to select their 2013 statewide candidates.  

Goldmanusa :: Anger at Doug Wilder Cost VA Democrats a Golden Opportunity
But these latter questions can wait. Let's focus on the Wilder issue first. The former Governor has been critical of Virginia Democrats, no question. So what?  It is not, or should not be, about him, but rather about issues and getting elected (one would hope). On this issue, the polls say that Wilder has the upper hand with public opinion. As long as I have known him, he has never been reluctant to leverage that type of support to put the hit on opponents.

Perhaps he would not have been interested this time.  But I doubt it, since Richard Cullen, a former GOP AG, spoke out against eliminating one gun a month. Bottom line: This was a huge missed opportunity in terms of the 2013 chess board. Indeed, it could have helped Tim Kaine in 2012.  

This isn't about Doug Wilder, it is about something bigger. This is a debate about a law from a Democratic Governor being repealed by Republicans. What else do you need in politics to make a good fight over the right position?

Earth to Democrats: You are the minority party in Virginia. Mark Warner can afford to be angry at you if he wants. But the rest of us have to follow different rules.  

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Rural Fears (0.00 / 0)
There are too many Virginia Democrats who believe this issue is polarizing for the rural constituencies that they think are the majority-makers in the Commonwealth. They've forgotten where the majority of Virginians really live, their values, and what they want from the Commonwealth.

Those Democrats really need to (0.00 / 0)
read the polls.

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[ Parent ]
The polls in their particular districts (0.00 / 0)
may show another outcome, though. Even with that, whatever happened to the "common good" for the entire commonwealth, not just for one district? I am continually flummixed by the arrogant demand for unlimited weaponry, and the instinctively brutal response to every frustration that the NRA and their kind seem to feel. I'm totally in favor of self-defense, I have no problem even with the fact that violence may sometimes be necessary to defend against bullies and tyrants, but this sort of thing is insane.  

[ Parent ]
As a former student of Doug Wilder, (0.00 / 0)
IT'S ALWAYS ABOUT DOUG WILDER. Okay, I'm exaggerating, a little.

Teddy, I don't see what all of the fuss is about. I don't understand why having an armory of highly-lethal weapons upsets you and your liberal buddies? After all, who doesn't want to outgun their local law enforcement officials? You never know, right? (snark and a little bit more)

Along the lines of your post, even if Deeds feels that the 1-gun-a-month law is non-sensible, he still should have stuck with his Democratic colleagues. What does he think he is going to gain now? Integrity, principle? Well, I won't go down that road...  

Progressive86


[ Parent ]
It is, and always has been, Deeds is "non-sensible". (0.00 / 0)
Deeds makes a big deal of being a hunter, as did Jim Webb. But the problem with that "no-sensible" and nonsensical line of GOP (non) logic is that handguns aren't what hunters use to hunt, unless they are hunting police officers or other human beings. And no one needs an AK-47,a 17-bullet clip hand gun automatic weapon to HUNT or even for self-defense.

I think Deeds and his ilk of DINOs should just make it official and start an NRA third party, or maybe they would prefer a third party called "Party of gun runners, Drug Dealers and Terrorists" and run for Pres., Va. Gov. or Va. state Senate. Maybe prefer to call their party the "Party of Morticians" ?

Whatever name and party affiliation these foolish handgun freaks prefer, the basic problem with them is that none of them care at all about the death and mayhem that their unlimited "right" to HANDGUNS core (only ?) moral value belief clearly is; all other values for them, including the value of the right to LIVE, are secondary to them.

O.K., I know I'm being a bit too kind to these gun-runner supporters. Maybe someday I'll come up with the right words to really say what I feel.

                          T.C.


[ Parent ]
The problem is "them" (0.00 / 0)
WE would never use our arsenal of handguns and automatic weapons to harm anyone, the VA GOP et al seem to argue. It is "them," the criminal types in Virginia and elsewhere who would take another life with one of these high-powered weapons.

Dirty Deeds done dirt cheap...I really don't know what to say about his departure from the sphere of reason.  

Progressive86


[ Parent ]
Right, and it's exactly those "criminal types" (0.00 / 0)
who will now have access to as many handguns as they want. Great job, Dirty Deeds et al!

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[ Parent ]
On the district polls. (0.00 / 0)

        Again, there are different levels of politics. My focus was on the statewide elective kind, but you need to use the platforms available, one being the ability of the DEMS in the Senate either to use their debate ability but more importantly really, they can develop strategies to raise the issues in a statwide media context.

       This can be hard work and long hours. But if you want to win against a dominant GOP machine, then you need to do it unless Mark Warner is going to give up the Senate and run for Governor.  


[ Parent ]
The linchpin (0.00 / 0)
You hit the nail on the head in regards to the Dems being able to message properly. But THIS has been their biggest flaw in the state, or one of their biggest. They simply cannot message as well as the VA GOP, or so I've been told and it seems, on the whole, true. Perhaps this is my sheer ignorance of the deepest workings of the Dem information machine, and if so, please correct me.

Do Dem senators take a more aggressive stance against this archaic GOP agenda? If so, what do they say to Virginians? Who will be the spokesperson or spokespeople? Senator McEachin comes to mind or even a notable and respected face like Tom Perriello.  

Progressive86


[ Parent ]
What?! (0.00 / 0)
Are you suggesting that facts and reality should influence people more than myths and legends?!

You're crazy Lowell!!


[ Parent ]
Yeah, I know. (4.00 / 1)
I'm crazy like that. :)

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[ Parent ]
On rural voters (0.00 / 0)

         Wilder, Warner agreeing with my Wilder rural strategy - which was really patterned after Henry Howell's strategy in the 1977 primary - was to see the commonality with all have, with an eye to knowing how to play it in different areas. Those who think Warner's strategy were unique sold a good thing for their bank accounts: but the truth is, Howell in 1977 [indeed before], Wilder in 1985, had already plowed that ground but in their own way of course.

          I had a chance to travel with Wilder in 1985 and you get a feel for things after awhile.

          One gun a month is not the same as gun control: and people know it. The folks who are adamantly against one gun a month are super partisan GOP in the end anyway.

           Moreover, my piece isn't aimed at trying to show Senate DEMS how to win the legislation battle. But rather we are talking about winning in 2013, at least I am not giving up, and think are chances are competitive if we get smart soon enough and this will require having some guts and moxey in fighting the battle in what they call the "free press", we don't have the luxury of waiting and thinking we can outspend McDonnell and company in the end.

           Besides, if DEM candidates don't get some kind of decent image with the general population prior to the summer of 2013 - and McDonnell stays popular - history says the odds of winning are extremely low.  


[ Parent ]
That's the problem (0.00 / 0)
There's a strong tradition of rural populism in Virginia. Howell is just one example. But I don't think you could find a single person in Warner Inc. that would be willing to acknowledge that Howell even exists, let alone was able to command a significant following in the Commonwealth. They continue to push the agenda that only business moderates who refuse to rock the boat like Mark Warner can be successful in rural areas. They've been able to push out at least one potential statewide office seeker from 2013 by using that line. Who knows how many others?

[ Parent ]
Good Points (0.00 / 0)
I have always thought what Doug Wilder did in 1985 and 1989 was little short of miraculous in a state that had integrated its schools less that two decades before. He did, indeed, show many Virginians in rural areas "the commonality we all have."

I remember going to the inaugural for Gov. Wilder, meeting him, and telling him that his elevation to governor was the proudest day I had had as a (white) Virginian. That day, I felt the Civil War finally ended in the Old Dominion.

Yes, most of us have had times when we could have metaphorically kicked Wilder in the hindquarters for his lack of loyalty to the party. But, then I think of how he was treated by the "establishment" Dems when he was in the General Assembly (check on it sometime), and I understand even if I don't agree at all.


[ Parent ]
What rural Dems? (0.00 / 0)
The last I looked, elected Dems in the state basically consisted of NoVA Dems and some majority-black Delegate and Senate seats.  A few rural Senate seats survive - Deeds, Puckett and Edwards, who isn't really rural.  You have Northam and Miller, who are Tidewater, although Northam has a wide rural area.

As to Delegates, again, what truly rural Dems are left?  

The boat sailed on rural Dems 15 years ago.  They're a 1/3rd minority, at best, and have few if any elected Dems to support.  They're too diffuse to really make an impact anywhere, except on statewide elections.  it sucks, but it's true.

At this point, though, I'm willing to alienate a few of them to do what's right for NoVA and the urban and suburban black-majority areas.  I think one of the issues is that, with the full-out right-way legislation going full blast on all issues - women's rights, guns, gays, all the stuff Republicans said they weren't going to go after if elected - the gun law is being thrown in with the other crap.  

Personally, I think Senate Dems should have walked out last month the minute Republicans decided to reorg without them.  That opportunity is gone.  If not that, then I would have made it very clear to Taliban Bob that no budget whatsoever would make it out if all of this social crap was passed.  Well, that opportunity has been lost as well.  Now, I fear the Senate is just going to try and save individual scraps from the budget, which means the god, guns and gays legislation passes.

I was watching SNL last night and they hit the personhood and transvaginal ultrasound stuff pretty hard.  I think Dems need to make some lemonade out of the lemons and run with that and slam every Republican running for Congress this year, plus Felix Maccawitz and whichever retard makes it out of the Republican circular firing squad that is their primary contests.


[ Parent ]
There's just one person to blame (4.00 / 1)
for Senate Dems' failing to do the things you suggest (which I agree with): Dick Saslaw. As most of us here feel, Saslaw is long, loooooooooooooong past his sell-by expiration date, tired, out of ideas (if he ever had any), just hanging on for the sake of it. Someone get the hook, gong, whatever!

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[ Parent ]
I only partially agree (4.00 / 1)
For any of this to work, all 20 Dem senators have to agree 100%.  I doubt if that was possible.  We've already seen Deeds and Edwards cave on guns, and Grandpa Colgan actually sponsoring the personhood legislation.  The problem, as always, is that Republicans always vote as a block.  They know if that if they don't, the teabaggers will be out for their heads during the next primary.  And, as always, at least one Dem - almost always from the rural remnants of the past Democratic party - will vote with them.  

We know a quorum is 21, so if one Dem decides to not go along with the plan, then it's a waste of time.  

As to the chronic Saslaw bashing, we get it.  You don't like him.  Your goal should be two-fold.  One, if he runs again in 3.5 years, get someone to primary him.  Two, don't act like Ben, and bash a Dem you don't like every time you turn around.  I think Saslaw votes probably 95% the way I would, vs. Colgan, Deeds, Puckett and crew who chronically disappoint all Dems, not just the ones in Arlington.  


[ Parent ]
And as the to the chronic defense of Saslaw (0.00 / 0)
we get it. You really, REALLY like him and will defend anything and everything he does, even when his "leadership" is a disastrous failure. And no, there are plenty of people besides Dems in Arlington who don't like him, but nice try with the Arlington bashing.

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[ Parent ]
I don't defend the guy (2.00 / 1)
I just criticize those who criticize him without having the fortitude to actually do something about him.  You guys have been complaining about him for years, and when you had a chance to do something - field a primary candidate - no one stood up.  That's how it's done in a democratic society, if you don't like the job the guy is doing, run against him.  No one did, but now they're back to whining about him.  It's pretty cowardly in a lot of ways.  

I don't blame you directly - you don't live in his district - but the fact that no one in his district primaried him says two things.  One, no one in his district thought enough to even make a symbolic primary challenge, or two, every Dem in his district is fine with him being their senator.  Either way, no one stepped up to challenge him, but the peanut gallery on the blog still feels the need to blame him for the fact that one Dem sponsored the personhood bill and also voted with Republicans last year to implement the clinic regulations.  And that other Dem senators routinely break ranks to vote with Republicans on social issues bills.

To me, it's a put up or shut up argument.  


[ Parent ]
By that "reasoning" (0.00 / 0)
(using the word VERY loosely), nobody should ever criticize any politician unless they themselves are prepared to run against that politician, or have a candidate to run against that politician.  Basically, what you're advocating is the end of free speech and democracy as we know it, as 99% of Americans have no intention of running for office (or the ability/desire to spend their time and money seriously supporting a candidate other than themselves), so they should just "put up or shut up." So much for having pundits, let alone citizens expressing their views in forums like these (or their conservative/right-wing equivalents). Blech.

Oh, and of COURSE you've been defending Dick Saslaw, relentlessly and for a long period of time now. Don't even try to claim you haven't been, that's beyond laughable.

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[ Parent ]
Criticize all you want (2.00 / 1)
But be aware that, if all you ever do is criticize, and routinely pass up chances to actually challenge the guy and make a difference, eventually it's just idle chatter.

I once lived in an apartment and my neighbor was always complaining to me about loud music coming from the apartment next to hers.  I asked her if she had ever asked them to turn it down, and she no, she didn't want to cause trouble.  But, she continued to complain to me all the time about how she couldn't sleep at night (early riser).  

You guys are sounding like her.  You complain to everyone but the perpetrator.  In this case, actually fielding a primary challenge to Dick, even a symbolic one with no chance of winning, would maybe send that message.  


[ Parent ]
Thanks for the helpful advice. (0.00 / 0)
Not.

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[ Parent ]
Perhaps (4.00 / 1)
Perhaps by "complaining" here, a Dem in his district will realize that he/she isn't alone in her discontent, and there might be names and faces who would help. I know, that's just my crazy idealism talking....except you know what? People make decisions like that all the time. I see nothing good coming from keeping quiet for quiet's own sake.

Perhaps we need to turn the music up louder until someone hears? :)


[ Parent ]
I'll split the difference (0.00 / 0)
I do think the political landscape in Va regarding rural Dems has fundamentally changed in the last 25 years. Even the last 10 have seen dramatic demographic shifts throughout the commonwealth. So building, from NEW ideas in those areas is our only chance, and seeing real fruit from that labor isn't going to happen quickly- perhaps not for another 25 years. Still needs to be done though.

And Dick Saslaw may vote the way someone like me does 95% of the time, but that other five percent seriously sticks in my craw. That car title bill was a huge issue for me personally, whereas on the gun issue, it's not what I want, but it isn't on the top of my priorities as a Dem.  


[ Parent ]
My main problems with Saslaw have to do with (4.00 / 1)
his arrogance, his undemocratic (small "d") behavior, his bullying, his overconfidence, his big mouth, his cluelessness about the world of 2012, his poor record on clean energy/enviro issues, and his coziness with corporate interests. Other than that, he rawks!!! LOL

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[ Parent ]
undemocratic (0.00 / 0)
Yes, let's admit that there hasn't been a backroom deal made in NoVa (and probably in Dem politics throughout VA) that didn't have Dick's fingerprints all over it.  Not cool.

[ Parent ]
What's really infurating (4.00 / 1)
is that many of these backroom deals were not only unnecessary, but counterproductive and just plain idiotic/non-strategic (is "anti-strategic" a word?).  For instance, ramming Dick's friend Barbara Favola down the throats of 31st Senate District Dems was done...why exactly?  Dick himself said the 31st was a safe district, so why couldn't we just have an open primary and let the voters decide? What was wrong with potential candidates like Margi Vanderhye, Patrick Hope, and several others who were considering running? Short answer: absolutely nothing, except they weren't Dick's pick. Then, to make matters worse, Dick poured money into the primary, money that could have been far better spent in the general election, where we were desperately fighting to keep the Senate majority. Priorities, priorities, I guess. Or, just plain idiotic, nepotistic, arrogant, and all the other adjectives many of us have applied to Dick over the years.  

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[ Parent ]
Agree (0.00 / 0)
The first 6 of the problems Lowell correctly cites all relate to Saslaw's leadership style. That's one of the reasons why statements by NJSM and others to the effect that, "if you don't like Saslaw, you have plenty of time (3.5 years) to organize a primary challenge...", miss the mark. Saslaw is the current leader of the Senate Dems and fancies himself a leader of all VA Dems. The fatal flaws to which Lowell refers are dragging us down right now.

[ Parent ]
Not Really . . . (0.00 / 0)
I really don't think that Saslaw sees himself as the leader of all Virginia Democrats. He's the had of the Senate Democratic Caucus. He positions himself accordingly, focusing on the needs of the Senate Democrats. He is ultimately accountable to them as the leader of the Caucus. He is also accountable to the voters as an elected Senator.

I've read the arguments that he's probably not progressive enough for his State Senate district. That's fair. After the one hand gun a month vote I'd say that's also true of someone like Deeds. Let's make a list and see if there's anything who's a good fit for his or her district . . .

As the leader of the Caucus, not as a leader of all Virginia Democrats, Saslaw is accountable to a small group of elected people. He's balancing the wants and needs of a small caucus. So far those folks seem to be satisfied with him.  


[ Parent ]
Disagree (0.00 / 0)
Dick Saslaw certainly does see himself as a leader of all Virginia Democrats. (I never said "the" leader of all Virginia Democrats.) In seeking to play the role of a leader of all Virginia Democrats, Saslaw brings with him all of the crippling leadership flaws that Lowell has identified, and in doing so, significantly undercuts the effectiveness of Virginia Democrats.  

[ Parent ]
Right. Also note how Dick's defenders (0.00 / 0)
resort to the same anti-democratic tactics, such as instructing us that we should "put up or shut up?" Sounds like Vladimir Putin's Russia, not George Washington's and Thomas Jefferson's Virginia, to me.

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[ Parent ]
Exactly (0.00 / 0)
There are almost no real rural Democrats left. The party has become a party of the city and the suburbs. Most of them don't have any long term strategy for taking back the state, winning in 2013, or how we'll ever take back the House and Senate. But I think the few that do plan ahead, and especially those who are thinking about 2013, worry too much about rural voters who have left the boat and not the suburban voters that put us over the top in 2005, 2006, and 2008.

[ Parent ]
I take offense to the statement (0.00 / 0)
"There are almost no real rural Democrats left."  I spent the last hour going through the election results from the 2008 Presidential election.  The Obama/Biden ticket won in Virginia by 234,527 votes.  I then looked at vote totals for only those counties with less than 12,000 votes cast.  Of those 47 counties, 11 voted for the Obama/Biden ticket with another 4 keeping the race close...within 200 votes of the McCain/Palin ticket. Total "non-real" dem votes for Obama/Biden were 144,229...an increase of Democratic voter turnout of almost 20% over the 120,813 Dem votes cast in those same localities in 2004.  That 144,229 figure is more than half of what Obama/Biden won by across the state.

No, rural Dems don't have large numbers...that's why we're called rural because fewer people live here.  In the 2004 election, Nelson carried the Dem candidates Kerry/Edwards by a measly 4 votes.  In a much more difficult 2008 election Nelson carried the Obama/Biden ticket by 744 votes.

This didn't just happen because we were twiddling our thumbs in rural Virginia.  We were knocking doors, phone banking every night, and registering voters just like our urban and suburban counterparts in much more difficult conditions to do so.  We have to drive to canvass.  We don't just pull up in a neighborhood and start walking from one house to the next.  Perhaps the few "real rural Dems" who are left don't need to bust our butts anymore because it seems obvious that the work we do is of little value to the rest of the state.  


Rural Democrats (0.00 / 0)
Take away minority-majority rural counties, or counties with a significant minority population (so something like Brunswick) and what pockets of Democratic support are there in rural Virginia counties? Places like Nelson, which are more about the culture and environment of a county driven by Charlottesville and Albemarle nearby.

So you get 144,229 Obama voters in rural counties. Great. There were 310,359 Obama voters alone in Fairfax.

I'm not in anyway insulting the work of rural Democrats. But let's be realistic about where the voters are that are vital to a Democratic majority in the Commonwealth. Virginia's swing voters are in the suburbs, not in rural areas.


[ Parent ]
I don't know where you (0.00 / 0)
are from FreeDem, but Nelson County is not driven by the "culture" of Charlottesville and Albemarle.  Had it been, the communal farms here, nor Wintergreen resort would ever have been in Nelson County.

Additionally, keep pushing Rural Dems away from the party by telling us how unimportant we are, and those 144,000 votes could swing the other way.  In 2008, had that happened, McCain/Palin would have won, and Virginia would not have turned blue.


[ Parent ]
Count the votes (4.00 / 1)
Yes, rural counties provided 144,000 Dem votes.  How many Republican votes did those same counties provide?

No one is saying that the rural areas are 100% Republican and need to be ignored.  What I say and most other NoVa Dems think is that the rural areas are at best only 70% or so Republican, and that should factor greatly into the election scheme.  Anyone Dem who runs on a rural Dem platform will simply not win statewide in Virginia.  Creigh Deed's campaign has destroyed the opinion of the less-liberal NoVA Dems that a rural Dem is the best candidate, since he/she can pick up the rural vote while NoVA Dems will turn out and vote for any Dem.  We know that isn't the case.

Put another way, there are more Dems in a single precinct in Fairfax or Arlington than there are in a lot of rural counties - maybe even a couple of rural counties.  You can cover that precinct in a day or two of canvassing, versus a couple of weeks for the rural counties.  Basic math will tell you where to put the bulk of your resources.  In purely economic terms, the marginal cost of talking to a Dem in a rural area vs a suburban area is much, much higher.


[ Parent ]
It is exactly (0.00 / 0)
this kind of mentality that continues to push conservative and moderate rural Dems away from the Democratic party.  Thank God, 2008 Presidential candidate Barack Obama did not share in your viewpoints...his campaign worked my rural community, as well as many others and wanted our vote.

The total vote count for the 47 counties I looked at with less than 12,000 votes in 2008 was 317,591...a dem vote of approximately 46%, far from the 70% or so Republican vote you claim above.  Just because we have been gerrymandered into districts which include 65% to 70% Republicans, doesn't mean that we aren't here.

Dollar for dollar, it is, of course, more expensive to reach rural voters.  But in our democracy, every vote is supposed to count, whether a rural or suburban/urban vote.  I don't want a fight with my Democrats in other parts of the state, but I won't sit by and allow  Dems to marginalize our vote or importance either.


[ Parent ]
I really don't know what you guys want (4.00 / 1)
No one is arguing that you aren't there.  What we're stating is that there isn't a density of you in any one spot to start picking up Delegate seats or Senate seats.  

Here's a thought - if you want to live in a Democratic area, you'll have to move out of the rural spots. I don't think that too many of your neighbors are going to stop voting Republican anytime soon, and we can't wait for them to do so.  

Just because you only lost to Sarah Palin by 8 points doesn't mean that every statewide candidate should focus on your area.  The votes aren't there.  Now, if you guys actually start forming effective local committees, start locally raising money and start winning a few elected seats - local supervisors and school board races are good to start - then we can have a sane conversation about diverting resources from NoVA and other Dem areas to the rural areas.  


[ Parent ]
Your arrogance (0.00 / 0)
is not very becoming.  Before telling me or anyone else that we should organize our committees,  you should know the facts.  In 2008, in my county we voted for Barack Obama, Mark Warner and Tom Perriello.  We voted for Perriello again in 2010 and in our local elections this year we elected the Commissioner of Revenue, Treasurer, Commonwealth's Attorney and Sheriff.

In order to carry the state consistently, perhaps instead of writing off rural Virginia, some of you could offer assistance or ask  the DPVA to come up with a plan to help organize those rural localities which need help, so that the state could elect more democrats.  Oh, I forgot, we should just move instead of bothering to try to improve the situation.


[ Parent ]
Just keep up your hard work. (0.00 / 0)
Thanks for what you do!

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[ Parent ]
Outlier (0.00 / 0)
Look, I know you're very proud of the work of the Nelson County Democrats. I absolutely love Nelson County. But you cannot extrapolate from Nelson County to the rest of rural Virginia. Some parts of rural Virginia have extreme pockets of poverty and are strongly Democratic because of the racial demographics. Other parts are far more conservative, white, evangelical, and Republican.

Over 20% of Nelson County's population has a bachelor's degree or higher. That's behind Virginia's average and seems small compared to Fairfax's 60% or so, but it puts it well ahead of the rest of rural Virginia. It's economy is rural but is more dependent on recreation and tourism than a normal rural county. The sort of environmental culture war that divides traditional working class constituents from the Democratic Party is less of a problem in a place like Nelson County.

I wish more rural counties were like Nelson County.


[ Parent ]
I understand that Nelson (0.00 / 0)
is somewhat different, but a lot of that 20% of bachelor's degree you refer to come from the Republicans who have moved into Stoney Creek or on the mountain.  Additionally, there were 10 other "rural" counties which voted for Obama in 2008.

If anyone had an interest in working with rural democrats to help organize their committees, perhaps rural Dems would do much better.  Being told to move somewhere else sure isn't the answer.


[ Parent ]
Rural Counties (0.00 / 0)
Look at your own numbers.

I see 12 counties that voted for Obama.

Three are outright minority-majority (Greensville, Brunswick, Sussex). Seven more have African-American populations above the statewide average of roughly 20% (Buckingham, King & Queen, Westmoreland, Prince Edward, Essex, Northampton, Surry, and Charles City).

So of the 12 counties that voted for Obama, only one, Nelson County, does not have a significant minority population.

Six more counties above 45% for Obama had significant minority populations.

Just two rural counties with a significant minority population showed low Obama performance: Appomattox and Amelia.

Of the over 45% for Obama, only five had low minority populations: Buchanan (traditional union), Clarke (Northern Virginia exurbs?), Rappahanock (Same?), Allegheny (traditional union?), and Dickenson (traditional union).

So if you want to talk about a "rural strategy" that focuses on core constituencies that already favor Democrats (minorities, union members), that's great. But there's no need to separate out rural communities as needing special attention above and beyond the need to emphasize outreach to our base.


[ Parent ]
Data (0.00 / 0)
It would be great if you'd post your data in a diary, or at least a comment.

I have my guesses on what's going on to produce the 46% for Obama, but I'm not positive.


[ Parent ]
Data (0.00 / 0)
I simply used Counties only with 12,000 votes or less.

County,Obama,McCain,Total
Allegheny, 3553, 3715, 7268
Amelia   2488, 3970, 6458
Appomattox 2641, 4903, 7544
Bath        1043, 1349, 2392
Bland         864, 2031, 2895
Brunswick 4973, 2877, 7850
Buchanan 4063, 4541, 8604
Buckingham 3489, 3428, 6917
CharlesCity Cty 2838, 1288, 4126
Charlotte 2705, 3372, 6077
Clark        3457, 3840, 7297
Craig        877, 1695, 2572
Cumberland 2255, 2418, 4673
Dickinson 3278, 3324, 6602
Essex        2934, 2379, 5313
Floyd        2937, 4441, 7378
Giles        3192, 4462, 7654
Grayson        2480, 4540, 7020
Greene        3174, 4980, 8154
Greensville 3122, 1729, 4851
Highland 590, 930, 1520
King & Queen 1918, 1763, 3681
King George 4473, 5888, 10361
King William 3344, 4966, 8310
Lancaster 3235, 3647, 6882
Lee        3219, 5825, 9044
Lunenberg 2703, 2900, 5603
Madison        2862, 3758, 6620
Matthews 1934, 3456, 5390
Middlesex 2391, 3545, 5936
Nelson        4391, 3647, 8038
New Kent 3493, 6385, 9878
Northampton 3800, 2713, 6513
Northumberland 3312, 4041, 7353
Nottoway 3413, 3499, 6912
Page        4235, 6041, 10276
Patrick        2879, 5491, 8370
Prince Edward 5101, 4174, 9275
Rappahannock 2105, 2227, 4332
Richmond Cty 1618, 2092, 3710
Rockbridge 4347, 5732, 10079
Russell        4932, 6389, 11321
Scott        2725, 6980, 9705
SouthHampton 4402, 4583, 8985
Surry        2626, 1663, 4289
Sussex        3301, 2026, 5327
Westmoreland 4517, 3719, 8236

Totals      144229, 173362, 317591


[ Parent ]
Nelson (0.00 / 0)
I know Nelson very well, I've worked on two campaigns in Nelson. Take away Charlottesville and Albemarle and Nelson is just another small rural community. Being a rural exurb of Charlottesville gives it enough of a quirky crunchy side to vote Democratic. And Wintergreen, which gives it a bit of an outdoorsy/environmental political culture like some of the ski communities of Colorado. Nelson is not very representational of most rural Virginia counties.

[ Parent ]
Rural Democratic Counties (0.00 / 0)
Political scientists Richard Morrill, Larry Knopp, and Michael Brown have studied what they call political anomalies, communities that vote counter to the broader trend of rural Republicans and urban Democrats. In 2004 they identified three major types of rural Democratic communities: ones with high minority population (Be it rural African-Americans in the South or Indian reservations out west), traditional (rural, white blue collar communities, typically with high union membership), or environmental-progressive (the outliers that make sense given the differences in culture from an interest in the environment and tending to be part of Greater Yankeedom).

In Virginia, there were seven Kerry rural counties with significant minority-majority populations. And then Nelson county, which they label environmental-progressive. And Dickenson and Buchanan in SW, traditional counties.

In 2008, Obama lost Buchanan and Dickenson, part of a prolonged Democratic slide in traditional counties. He won Montgomery County in SW, which I don't know if you'll describe as rural given your threshold. He won Buckingham south of Charlottesville, which I'd probably list as a minority-influenced county but maybe it's also the impact of the Charlottesville area. He also picked up a handful of Northern Neck and Peninsula counties with high minority populations. Carolina County seems too large to be rural in your metric, though.

Some people lean Democratic. Some people lean Republican. Some people are open to voting Democratic. Some people aren't. Sometimes taking one stance, such as vocally opposing the repeal of one hand gun a month, risks alienating other people. We cannot be a party trying to please everyone. We have to make a broad public appeal for the common good, but we can't be perfect to everyone.

At the end of the day, rural Democrats can provide an important push for statewide campaigns. Every vote counts of course. But just looking at the sorts of rural counties that vote Democratic in Virginia, it's interesting how different they are from the stereotype of rural Democrats. Minorities are a bedrock of strength in our Democratic counties, but for the most part "rural outreach" is just code for "pandering to white men" in Virginia politics.


[ Parent ]
Every time (0.00 / 0)
Any rural Dem puts up a sign the gets the name of a Democrat better known, that is important work. Every time you represent the party by being a (gasp!) American who loves this country, that is important work. And every time one of us pooh poohs you from our much easier vantage point, feel free to call us on it. It's still a free country, after all!

[ Parent ]
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