I’m sure much will be written about yesterday’s election by pundits far and near. But why should they have all the fun? So hear goes:
People are generally ticked off. The economy, declining housing prices (the single biggest asset for the middle class), joblessness and the perception that government is more interested in helping Wall St. and the banksters than helping them. Then along comes the big agenda from Obama: climate change, health care and growing deficits to address the aforementioned economy. Average people look at this and say, ” Since I’m the one who always takes it in the neck from the powers that be, I’m sure they will start taxing me to make this work.”
Add to this, the historical fact in Virginia of voters taking out their frustrations in local and state elections against whomever holds power at the national level.
So what do you do if you are a Republican? Why you do your best to to Nationalize the state election, of course. Republicans painted Creigh Deeds as a tax and spend liberal. He was for raising taxes, he was for cap and trade, he wants to nationalize health care.
Now this all puts Deeds in an untenable postion. He can come out against all the Republican induced bogeymen, thereby alienating his base, which is already suspicious of him because of his record on guns, gay rights and his small town background or he could embrace the boogeymen and let it rip with a nationalized election. He did both or neither, depending on how you look at it. Initally the Deeds campaign tried to distance Creigh from National Democrats. That didn’t work. The Democratic base started to slip. Then McDonnell’s “thesisgate” gave Deed’s a bump with the base. The Washington Post’s early endorsement based on who would tax more played right into the Republicans hands. While intellectually people understand that you can’t have road improvements without higher taxes, they just don’t want to hear it in these economically pressed times.
Deeds tried to thread the needle by doing a “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” on the Republican bogeymen and came off looking weak. McDonnell set his “jobs and opportunity” agenda with a “transportation plan” which in my humble oppinion is pure baloney. But it looked strong. Weak and right loses to strong and wrong.
In the last weeks of the campaign, Deeds relies on President Obama to provide a boost, further nationalizing his campaign. The Democratic base saw it as a half-hearted effort from Obama, doing his good soldier thing and it added fire to the Republican base.
The bottom line is this: The statewide Democratic campaigns barely got out 50% of it’s base voters. The Republicans over performed in getting their base out. There were lost opportunities to change the outcome like less focus on trying to win over leaning republicans and more focus on getting identified Democratic voters truly excited about the statewide campaigns.Whether this would have been enough to erase historic trends is speculation but it wouldn’t have hurt.
Creigh is someone whom I consider a friend and one of the most decent people I know. I can’t say the better man won but the better campaign did.