The Real Crystal Ball

It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.

The Most Important Delegate’s Race This Year?

Demography is not destiny for Virginia Democrats. Short term increases in Virginia’s minority population will have only a minor impact on the state’s politics. Long term projections have focused on Virginia’s growing Hispanic and Asian-American populations, with little emphasis on Virginia’s large existing African-American community. Nationally, strong African-American support for President Obama and Democrats has been a linchpin for progressive victories. But it’s hard to look at Virginia and feel the same way. For now.

The current crop of black legislators in Richmond are disappointing, especially on the House of Delegates side. Jet-setting friend of the uranium industry Onzlee Ware, Republican gerrymander-defending Lionell Spruill, and Kenny Alexander, newly minted State Senator who’s vote can be bought with plum committee posts. And let’s not forget perhaps the worst offender, Rosalyn Dance, who openly considered backing the Republican gerrymandering of the State Senate following their takeover of the chamber on President Obama’s inauguration and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Now there’s a chance to get even and hold Dance responsible.

Dance is facing a strong primary threat from Evandra Thompson, who has secured the support of several prominent figures in the district. It’s already gotten ugly with complaints and accusations that only a political insider would care about.

Here’s what you need to know.

Evandra Thompson faces an uphill battle, but her entire life story has been about succeeding against all odds. She’s a true American hero and a proud Democrat.

Rosalyn Dance has a history of working with Republicans. When she first ran for the House of Delegates in 2001, she ran as an Independent in the 63rd District against Democrat Fenton Bland with the open support of Republican Speaker Vance Wilkins. Her candidacy was a bid by the Republicans to strengthen their hold on the House. Bland went on to resign over criminal charges, allowing Dance to win the special election in 2005 as a Democrat. But you should never forget that Dance was first recruited by Republicans and encouraged to run by Republicans. In 2001, Dance only narrowly missed out in joining her Republican friends. She campaigned with the backing of Republicans like George Allen, Bob McDonnell, and a pro-school voucher front group called the Committee for Quality Education.

Progressive Democrats had to defeat corrupt, established Democrats like Al Wynn in order to be taken seriously at the national level. In Virginia, progressive Democrats have tried and failed to defeat out of touch minority representatives like Algie Howell, who held onto his seat in 2011 despite the opposition of leading progressive groups like the Sierra Club and the VEA. That’s what could make this delegate’s race the most important one this year. Can progressive groups in Virginia show they have what it takes to win a Democratic primary and threaten other Democrats who openly side with Republicans on fundamental issues like education and voting?


A Baker’s Dozen of Districts for Democrats

Here are thirteen districts where Democrats could win but still need a Democratic candidate.

There are six Republican-held districts that voted for President Barack Obama in 2012 and in 2008 that do not have a Democratic challenger right now. Do you live there? Run! Know someone? Tell them to run! Call your mother, your aunt, your college room mate. If you have heard rumors of potential candidates let me know. And let them know to file the damn paperwork!

13th District: Bob Marshall

2012 Obama Vote: 55%

2008 Obama Vote: 55%

ImageBob Marshall doesn’t just represent a district that voted Democratic in the last two presidential elections, he represents a district that gave President Barack Obama 55% of the vote. His district was made more Democratic under redistricting, but the rapidly growing population does not always turn out in off-year elections. The coordinated campaign should be covering this as part of the strategy of turning out Obama supporters in the off year. All that is needed now is a candidate!

50th District: Jackson Miller

2012 Obama Vote: 54%

2008 Obama Vote: 53%

ImageSecond verse, same as the first, a little bit louder, a little bit worse. The situation here is similar to Bob Marshall, but with a slightly less crazy Republican. Obama-district, check. Lots of new voters, check. Candidate? Not yet.

67th District: Jim LeMunyon

2012 Obama Vote: 53%

2008 Obama Vote: 53%

ImageLeMunyon is going to get a pass this fall, and may for several elections to come, despite representing an Obama-district that will likely vote for Terry McAuliffe this fall. Democrats may regret not putting more pressure on LeMunyon in the future should he seek higher office. He’s building a strong reputation in the General Assembly, the only thing that may hold him back is the Tea Party’s tendency to shoot the GOP in the foot.

21st District: Ron Villanueva

2012 Obama Vote: 52%

2008 Obama Vote: 50%

ImageThe first three districts were all Northern Virginia districts, but Ron Villanueva represents a Virginia Beach district that also went for Obama. Villanueva defeated a well funded Adrianne Bennett in 2011, so Democrats may believe this district has been put away. It is one of the least white district represented by a Republican in the Virginia House of Delegates, along with the 86th (Rust) and the 87th (Ramadan). With a black voting age population of 24% of the district and an Asian-American population of 13%, this district is projected to continue to grow in its diversity in the next decade.

32nd District: Tag Greason

2012 Obama Vote: 52%

2008 Obama Vote: 53%

ImageAfter defeating David Poisson in a landslide in the year of the GOP tsunami, Greason has avoided any further electoral challenges in this Obama district. Poisson came in riding Tim Kaine’s coattails in 2005, just like Greason did, so Democrats are foolish if they fail to even find a candidate to be on the ballot. Greason has a reputation of being very popular locally, but in the right year he could be washed out.

12th District: Joseph Yost

2012 Obama Vote: 51%

2008 Obama Vote: 54%

Image I have heard horrible, horrible stories of the incompetency that allowed Yost to win this marginal district in 2011. Even Creigh Deeds almost managed to stumble his way to victory in this district, which is unique for its student population helping Democrats in big-turnout years, a college town population that still leans to the left even in lower-turnout years, and a rural working class constituency that still backs local Virginia Democrats. This should have been one of the top targets to take back in 2013, instead Yost may be getting a pass. This is one Southwest Virginia district that even I support investing in! Ben has reported that local activists are pushing Victoria Cochran, featured below at the Democratic National Convention.

ImageFailing to contest these six Obama district is not a good start for the long road ahead of Virginia Democrats in the House of Delegates. But here are seven more districts that are competitive and could, with the right candidate and the right political environment, go Democratic. First they need candidates!

84th District: Open Seat (Sal Iaquinto)

2012 Kaine Vote: 50%

2012 Obama Vote: 49%

2008 Obama Vote: 49%

ImageParties always need to pay attention to open seats, the power of incumbency is even stronger when you have low-turnout elections in off-years like in Virginia. This seat is competitive at the national level, but retiring Delegate Sal Iaquinto had not been challenged in an election since winning the seat in 2005 when Bob McDonnell ran for Attorney General. Tim Kaine won the district that year with 51% of the vote, but McDonnell’s huge coattails down ballot helped Iaquinto win with 56% of the vote. This is a long shot, but as an open seat it may be the only shot Democrats have here for years to come.

73rd District: John O’Bannon

2012 Kaine Vote: 50%

2012 Obama Vote: 46%

2008 Obama Vote: 46%

ImageTim Kaine is popular in the Richmond suburbs, but Obama’s 46% demonstrates the moderate nature of this suburban district. In 2009, both Jody Wagner and Steve Shannon outperformed the rural lawyer from Craig County. That year Tom Shields ran a spirited campaign for delegate that managed to run ahead of the disaster that was the Deeds campaign, even though he still lost with only 38% of the vote. There is a small swing-vote in this district, moderate upscale suburbanites where the Far West End goes out to Henrico, that voted Romney-Kaine in 2012, McDonnell-Shields in 2009, and also opposed the gay marriage ban in 2006 despite their GOP leanings. They could be crucial to this district in the fall … if the Democrats can find the right candidate.

83rd District: Chris Stolle

2012 Kaine Vote: 49%

2012 Obama Vote: 46%

2008 Obama Vote: 46%

ImageThere’s no doubt that this is a Republican leaning-district, but moderate Democrats like Tim Kaine have shown strength here. Tim Kaine won the pre-redistricted district in 2005, narrowly, when he won traditionally Republican Virginia Beach. Joseph Bouchard narrowly beat Stolle in an open seat contest in 2007 before Stolle returned in 2009. Democrats shouldn’t just write this one off though.

62rd District: Riley Ingram

2012 Kaine Vote: 47%

2012 Obama Vote: 46%

2008 Obama Vote: 45%

ImageThis is a tough district, but take a look at the list of challenges Ingram has had over the years.

2011: Unopposed

2009: Unopposed

2007: Unopposed

2005: Unopposed

2003: Unopposed

2001: Unopposed

1999: Unopposed

1997: Unopposed

1995: Had a challenger!

This district has changed a lot since 1995 and has seen its Democratic vote slowly improve, John Kerry’s 36% became Obama’s 43% before the district was made more Democratic in redistricting. The district has a sizable African-American population and changing demographics should increase Democratic performance a bit in the decade yet. Democrats would have a better shot in an open seat, but they need to invest in building infrastructure here in the short term.

54th District: Bobby Orrock

2012 Kaine Vote: 47%

2012 Obama Vote: 46%

2008 Obama Vote: 48%

ImageThe good news is that Bobby Orrock had a close election in the past and his support of this year’s transportation bill could create an environment similar to his prior near defeat. The bad news is that Orrock’s close election was the Republican Primary, where Shaun Kenny almost knocked him off after Orrock’s support for Governor Mark Warner’s tax increase. Conservative Tea Partiers are invited to challenge Orrock, but Democrats would be wise to think of ways to help the party in this Spotsylvania District, which overlaps with the 17th Senate Seat they need to take back in 2015. Orrock hasn’t faced off against a Democratic challenger since 1993. 

27th District: Roxann Robinson

2012 Kaine Vote: 48%

2012 Obama Vote: 45%

2008 Obama Vote: 46%

ImageRobinson won a 2010 special election to this Chesterfield County seat, but previous Delegate Sam Nixon had held the seat since winning his own special election in 1994. Nixon was never contested after winning his special election, and so far Robinson looks like she’s going to repeat that trend. This district voted for Obama in 2008 with 51.5% of the vote before Republicans trimmed the district to help Robinson out. Here’s Ben Tribbett analysis of the Virginia House Caucus’s decision to ignore this district during the special election and instead contest a Harrisonburg area district that was less Democratic. The DPVA spent over $60,000 backing the Democrat in Harrisonburg who lost and nothing here in a competitive Chesterfield County district.

Those are six more districts where Obama received over 45% of the vote both. I promised you 13, a baker’s dozen, of competitive districts that didn’t have a Democratic candidate. What’s the 13th? Could it be West End’s 68th, an exciting district that elected an Independent, former Republican last decade? 45% Obama in 2008, 44% in 2012, but Tim Kaine’s Richmond appeal propelled him to 49%. It has a large number of socially moderate Republican voters, one reason that Katherine Waddell had a shot here in the first place in 2005. If the election is dominated by big social issues, this district could swing Democratic. Or what about the neighboring 72nd district? Very similar to the 68th, but just a hair more Republican. The chance for social issues to help Democrats is the same here and Bill Bolling’s Independent candidacy would have been strongest with these up-scale conservatives. The future of a majority for Virginia Democrats runs through the moderate suburbs of Richmond, which is why I’m a proud Tim Kaine Democrat.

Maybe you want to look outside of the Richmond suburbs. What about the fightin’ 99th! Al Pollard won the open seat in 1999 before leaving it in 2005, opening it up for Rob Wittman. Wittman of course went on to win the special election for the 1st Congressional District, so Pollard switched back to the seat in the special election after his failed bid for the Virginia State Senate in 2007. Pollard fought off a hard challenge from Tea Partier Catherine Crabill before retiring in 2011. The district did not change significantly in redistricting and would still be competitive for the right sort of Democrat. The problem is that right sort of Democrat is Al Pollard and seems to be only Al Pollard. How about Southside’s 61st District? Obama received 46% in 2008, 44% in 2012. That could be right on the cusp of being competitive? But Southside voting is very racially polarized and there’s little crossover, Tim Kaine was also stuck with 44% in 2012. Instead, I’m going to suggest this wild card.

76th District: Chris Jones

2012 Kaine Vote: 47%

2012 Obama Vote: 44%

2008 Obama Vote: 43%


As the thirteenth district on this list, this is supposed to be a long shot, Hail Mary race. First, Obama did marginally better here in 2012 than four years earlier, which isn’t much but is noticeable when both the national environment and the environment in Virginia saw Obama drop in support. Second, Tim Kaine’s 47% in the district shows that moderate Virginia Democrats have some crossover appeal. Chris Jones is a hack and some Tea Partiers are angry over his support for the transportation plan, which Ken Cuccinelli, the GOP’s candidate for Governor, is now calling unconstitutional. Jones already has a third-party conservative on the ballot that could drain some votes away from him. Jones hasn’t been challenged since 2001, it would be good to put some pressure on him. The 76th District has one of the highest black populations for a Republican held district, only Southside Republicans like Danny Marshall in Danville and James Edmunds in Halifax have larger black populations in the district. Jones is seen as very popular locally, but it’s hard to judge that without an election. Maybe in 2013 he’ll finally get one?

The 6th District Fiasco

If you haven’t yet, check out the discussion my previous diary created at Blue Virginia with Southwest Virginia’s own Isaac Sarver, President of the Virginia Young Democrats and a rising star in Southwest Virginia politics. I will be working on getting more of Isaac’s response to my points soon, but for now I promised a discussion of the 6th District, so here it is.

Back in 2005 Republican Anne Crockett-Stark knocked off incumbent Democrat Bennie Keister in the 6th District. Keister had been barely holding onto office in the first place, winning the open seat in 2001 with 51% of the vote and winning reelection in 2003 by just 49 votes. In both races Keister had a significant financial edge over his Republican challengers, so it’s no surprise that when Republicans targeted the race heavily in 2005 and outspent him they pulled off the win.

Let’s take a look at Keister’s performance.

When he won in 2001, he was running behind Mark Warner at the top of the ticket. Warner won the district with 53%, two points ahead of Keister. In 2005, Tim Kaine was winning 45% of the vote, close to the 46% that Keister lost with downticket. Keister was pulling off narrow victories in a district that was shifting from supporting local Virginia Democrats to won that was Republican up and down the line, but it was still competitive for even Tim Kaine in 2005. But even when outspending his Republican opponents almost three to one, Keister never was able to put this district away. Republicans smelled the blood and came after him with a vengeance in 2005.

Democrats contested the seat again in 2007 and lost, but kept it from being a blowout. But in 2008 Obama was blown out of the water here. His 37.5% of the vote was just a hair above Kerry’s 36.8%. This district is hostile to national, liberal Democrat. And all signs pointed to the district getting worse for Democrats.

In 2009, Virginia Democrats saw a district that was trending away from the party with a battle hardened Republican incumbent and wisely decided … to throw more money at it.

Wait, what?

Break it down.

Mark Warner in 2001 won the district with 53% of the vote. Even if Creigh Deeds rebuilt something resembling the Warner coalition from 2001, the change in the district over the years was going to make it unlikely that he would win the district. A strong Democratic challenger might be able to run ahead of the top of the ticket, but they would be going up against an entrenched Republican. That’s assuming Deeds is doing well at the top of the ticket, instead of being shellacked.

I don’t fault the party for trying to find a strong candidate and making sure that the seat was contested. But once the alarm bells were going off in Richmond about the McDonnell tsunami heading their way, they needed to prioritize districts and try to defend incumbents first, not invest in a seat that was always going to be a reach.

In late October, 2009, the Democratic House Caucus put in over $80,000 to Carole Pratt’s campaign. Pratt, a retired dentist, might not have had much going for her in terms of political connections in the district, but she was the mother of the House Caucus Director at the time, Matt Mansell. Matt is now lobbying for the Medical Society of Virginia and I can only thank him for leaving campaign politics to the professionals.

In a year in which several incumbent delegates were dragged down to defeat by Deeds, four stand out for the narrow margins of their defeat: Mathieson, Valentine, Vanderhye and Nichols. Republicans probably would have targeted them for defeat through redistricting, and liberal Democrats like adulterer David Englin would defend that as fair, but I bet most Virginia Democrats would prefer to have had a chance at keeping those four around instead of supporting Pratt, who got blown out with less than 35% of the vote. Pratt was the 6th largest recipient of support from the House Caucus in 2009, behind Bouchard, Mathieson, Werkheiser, Stevens Miller and Nichols. Don’t you think that money could have been better spent?

Democrats Start 2013 Behind in Southwest Virginia

ImageDo you think Rick regrets this picture now?

It’s just days away from the candidate filing deadline for the Virginia House of Delegates. Many Southwest localities have a tradition of conventions, not primaries, so the impending doom facing Virginia Democrats may actually be delayed beyond March 28th. But from this vantage point Virginia Democrats are starting out from way behind in Southwest Virginia. Longtime popular Democrat Joe Johnson has called it quits, getting out while he’s still ahead.

Here’s how bad this news is for the Democrats.

Johnson has not been challenged since 1989. George Bush was President then. No, the OTHER George Bush.

Here’s just a brief glimpse of how the 4th District has changed in recent times, not even going back to the last time Michael Dukakis was on the ballot.

In 2004, that other Massachusetts liberal running against a Bush received 34.4% of the vote in the 4th District. Only 13 other districts were more Republican than the 4th that year.

The following year, 2005, Tim Kaine received only 36% of the vote against Southwest Virginia’s own Terry Kilgore. Local Virginia Democrats tend to do better than liberal national Democrats, but Kaine was facing off against a well known Southwest Virginian Republican. Kaine managed to run ahead of Kerry, although not by much. But it was still better than his performance in three other Delegate districts, all in Southwest Virginia, where Kaine ran behind Kerry.

In 2008, Barack Obama made history by winning Virginia, the first time a Democrat had won the Commonwealth since 1964. Despite running ahead of Kerry across the nation and the Commonwealth, he managed to finish only at 34.7% in Johnson’s 4th District. Only six districts were more Republican.

Redistricting actually made the 4th more Democratic, as Republicans sliced up Southwest Virginia in order to eliminate at least one Democrat. Creigh Deeds, the country lawyer who honed his rhetoric for rural jurors, won 26.9% under the old lines but jumped to an impressive 32.3% under the new lines. Deeds Country!

In 2012, the 4th was one of three Southwest districts to swing sharply to the right. Obama received only 30% of the vote, down almost 9 points from his 2008 performance. Which was already disappointing when compared to Kerry’s performance. Which set an extremely low floor that Kaine only barely outperformed in 2005. Which only looks good for a Virginia Democrat when compared to Creigh Deeds.

Unless Mark Warner himself runs for office, this seat is going to be gone, gone, gone for Virginia Democrats. Johnson would have been in for a tough fight if Republicans had ever ran against him. Much like Phil Puckett he might have been able to hang on, or he could have joined Rick Boucher in the formerly elected Southwest Virginian Democrats club. But this is a very big uphill climb for any local Democrat when you consider that they will be swimming upstream against an overwhelming landslide for Republicans at the top of the ticket.

To put this in perspective, in 2008, when Barack Obama was losing this district with 39% of the vote, Mark Warner was running 22 point ahead of Obama and winning with 61% of the vote. That was Mark “I love Southwest Virginia so much my blood is a blend of NASCAR fuel and coal” Warner running against the world’s most incompetent Republican candidate. And that was before Obama’s “War on Coal,” the defeat of Rick Boucher, and an even sharper swing to the right in Southwest Virginia.

Today, the Democratic brand is much, much weaker in Southwest Virginia and you need to find a candidate with the sort of independence that a Mark Warner has. Tim Kaine ran 4 points ahead of Obama in this district in 2012, but still lost the district. The local congressional candidate, who never had a chance and never had any major support, ran 10 points ahead of Obama … and still lost the district.

In 2009, multiple incumbent delegates ran significantly ahead of Creigh Deeds. Ward Armstrong ran 22 points ahead of Creigh Deeds, Lynwood Lewis ran 23 points ahead, Albert Pollard was 18 points ahead, Paula Miller in Tidewater was 18 points ahead, Shannon Valentine in Lynchburg ran 11 points ahead of the top of the ticket, Bill Barlow ran 11 points ahead, and Dan Bowling ran 10 points ahead in the 3rd District. This list includes some incredibly strong and popular incumbents. You would need someone on the Armstrong, Lewis, Pollard and Miller range of popularity in spite of an unpopular top of the ticket in order to win the 4th District. And you’d need to find that level of popularity without a history of incumbency. In 2009 no Democrat in an open seat ran that far ahead of the top of the ticket. Luke Torian, 4 points ahead of Deeds, was the only one to run well in a competitive district. And 4 points ahead of Terry McAuliffe means you’re still blown out of the water in the 4th District. I would be shocked if McAuliffe breaks 35% in this district.

Even back in 2005, when Democrats were doing well in Virginia, not a single Democrat in an open seat managed to run ahead of Kaine by double digits. Lowell Fulk, an incredibly strong and popular Democratic candidate in Rockingham/Harrisonburg, ran 6 points ahead of Tim Kaine, the best for any Democratic challenger in an open seat in 2005. He still lost, and this district is MUCH worse for Democrats than the 26th. Having ran before, Fulk started off with significantly higher name ID than his opponent. And he still lost. He managed to run 6 points ahead of the top of the ticket. To keep the 4th, Virginia Democrats need to find someone who could run closer to 20 points ahead of the ticket.

Let’s summarize.

Even if he wins, McAuliffe is going to be lucky to break 35% in this district. Something closer to 30% is more likely.

It would take an incredibly strong Democratic challenger to run far enough ahead of the ticket to make this competitive. Finding someone who’s not an incumbent and who hasn’t run before yet is somehow that popular seems nigh impossible.

Even if you find the right candidate, it would be a tough fight, in which Virginia Democrats would be sinking resources into an area that does little to help the top of the ticket, and will elect a “Democrat” who will always vote against gun control, always vote for the interests of the coal industry, and will frustrate the socially liberal, tree hugging activists who make up a large part of the Democratic base.

Is it worth it?

There’s a Part Two to this post coming soon, talking about the 6th District. Stay tuned.

McAuliffe Reacts to Bolling Exit

Bolling Walking

Bill Bolling exits the Gubernatorial race, never the follow in the footsteps of Thomas Jefferson.

Bill Bolling, the last best hope of independent Virginians, has declared that he will not be running as an Independent candidate in this year’s Virginian Gubernatorial election. The field is now set between Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who has politicized his office and is a characterchure of Tea Party radicals, and former DNC Chairman Terry McAullife, who has never held an office to politicize and is a characterchure of snake oil hucksterism. The only way that either could ever become Governor is if the other were their opponent.

Virginia has fallen a long, long way from statesmen like Thomas Jefferson.

McAuliffe is already positioning himself as a centrist, a corporate sellout to the Big Boys in Virginia, in order to win over the business community and drive Cuccinelli to the radical fringe of the electorate. Here’s McAullife on uranium now that Bolling is out.

“Any economic proposal in these tough times merits a hard look. However, I would need to be certain that mining uranium can be done safely and cleaned up completely before a moratorium is lifted.”

McAuliffe added Tuesday, “So far I have not seen that.”

“So far” McAullife hasn’t seen the evidence he needs, but somehow the proposal still “merits a hard look.” His campaign is providing just enough of a qualification to his support to keep the support of environmentalists in Virginia, the already beaten and abused stepchild of the Democratic Party. But he’s opening the door once as Governor to push through an end to the moratorium.

Bolling was the last best hope Virginians had to run an unapologetic opponent of uranium mining, uniting both environmentalists and concerned Republicans in Southside and Hampton Roads.

Environmentalists have been up in arms over a proposed “Prius tax” in the new transportation package, but except for a few wise Northern Virginia Democrats like Scott Surovell and Adam Ebbin no one seems too worried about the new tax. Increasing taxes on hybrids was in the transportation package from the start, don’t listen to idiot Democrats like huckster Donald McEachin, and Democrats like Dick Saslaw ensured that it would be kept in. Where is McAullife on this issue and why is he so silent in the face of such popular outrage? Tea Party radicals are killing efforts to promote Virginian tourism and prepare for sea-level rises from global warming. But is the silence from leading Virginia Democrats any less crazy?

No Virginia, Demography Is Not Destiny

Old Virginny is dead … Long Live Old Virginny.


Tim Kaine, tearfully mourning the passage of Old Virginny. Or maybe something from his eyebrow got stuck in his eye.

A big reason for this blog is to clear the air following the reelection of President Barack Obama and his second victory in the Old Dominion. Gleeful Virginia Democrats looking ahead to Terry McAuliffe’s ascension to the title of “His Excellency” are in danger of having the Governor’s Mansion pulled away from them at the last second, like Charlie Brown trusting Lucy just one more time to hold the ball. In this case the role of Lucy is being played by the Commonwealth’s ever-changing electorate, which has jerked back and forth between Democrats and Republicans so many times in the last eight years political pundits are developing whiplash. Today’s lesson is to clear up the belief that demography is destiny in the Old Dominion.

Virginia, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Ohio are special states; they are the only five states that voted twice for President George W. Bush and then voted twice for President Barack Obama. That may be the only thing the states have in common. The growth in Hispanic voters in both Florida and Nevada is setting off alarms in central Republican HQ, where the big questions are how soon can Marco Rubio run for President and how many Rubio clones can be produced before then. But Virginia, for all of its diversity from Annandale to Petersburg, is not a state the Republicans need to worry about slipping away to the blue side because of strong minority growth.

The liberal Center for American Progress has conducted an analysis of changes in the electorate across several states, including Virginia. They only focus on the growth from more eligible Latino voters in 2016, trying to drive the narrative that a quick immigration reform bill is the best road back to the White House for Republicans. But when Micah Cohen at the New York Times ran the numbers it turns out that it doesn’t do much for increasing Obama’s margin in Virginia compared to other states with fast growing Latino populations like Florida and Nevada.

In a close state squeezing out 1% more can be a big deal, but in a close state there’s always more than one way to skin a cat. Virginia, Colorado, and Iowa are all states where Mitt Romney, despite a historic level of support from white voters, failed to match President George W. Bush’s 2004 performance among white voters. Romney ran 6% behind Bush in Colorado, 3% behind Bush in Iowa, and a whopping 8% behind Bush in Virginia … among white voters.

Virginia Democrats are going to get no help in the electoral battles ahead from demographic changes. It’s even possible that as the nation becomes more racially and ethnically diverse, more white voters could start leaning Republican. Imagine that, white voters in the Commonwealth returning to the Grand Old Party to turn the state red again. Old Virginny is dead? Long live Old Virginny. Virginia Republicans are better off figuring out the motives of the white Bush voters who backed Obama in 2008 and 2012 than worrying about minority growth in Virginia. Besides, a number of Republicans in Richmond have already shown they know how to work with Virginia’s minority communities.


Bob McDonnell at a typical gathering of Virginians embracing the diversity of Old Virginny from White Protestants to White Catholics.