Value the Rural Voter


    ( – promoted by lowkell)

    Last night on the live John Fredericks Show, Fredericks had panelists to include Chap Peterson, Scott Surovell, Ben Tribbett and a journalist from a Washington paper.  At some point during the show when the SBE’s website was bouncing in and out, the discussion turned briefly to “rural” votes being submitted quickly because there werent’ many of them.  A comment was made regarding Bedford County and its returns.  It went something like, “Well, it’s not hard to count one vote.”  Everyone just yucked it up after the statement was made.  

    I’ve pointed out on BV several times that the DPVA, and in general, Democratic candidates ignore rural Virginia at their own peril.  Last night gives me an excellent example to show the importance of rural Virginia voters in low turnout elections.  Chopra’s support in Northern Virginia was essentially a draw with Northam, and then Northam built up huge margins in the Tidewater area and lost the race.  However, the Herring/Fairfax race was different and Herring can count his support in rural Virginia, at least in part, for his victory over Justin Fairfax by 4,500 votes.

    This morning I went through the election results and chose counties with populations of 30,000 residents or less to determine what the rural vote totals were.  By the way, Bedford County, the County mentioned on the Fredericks show, did not meet the 30,000 population threshold.  Its population is almost 70,000.  There were 53 counties that meet my population criteria.  The total population among these 53 counties is 865,684.  The total votes cast were 10,566, 5,819 of which were for Mark Herring.  

    I also cobbled together three other Counties with approximately the same population base to compare against the 53 rural counties.  The three counties I chose were Prince William, Loudoun and Albemarle with a total population of 869,438.  These three counties voted for Herring by a larger margin (I’m sure because I included Loudoun) with 6,844 of the 9,570 total votes cast.  Please note these three localities, Prince William, Loudoun and Albemarle, with a larger population by nearly 4,000 over the 53 rural areas voted 996 fewer votes than the 53 rural jurisdictions cast.

    This exercise, while not by any means scientific,  indicates the rural Virginia Dem vote is just as important as the vote from other areas of Virginia.  Remarks like those made on the Fredericks show are offensive.  We work hard to get Democratic votes in rural areas, probably harder than many must work in the gerrymandered blue areas of the state. We are tired of being written off by our urban and suburban pals.

    I live in a rural area which votes Democratic most of the time and because of that we are thrown a bone occasionally, but most rural jurisdictions are never thrown a bone.  They hardly, if ever, see a statewide Dem candidate in their own jurisdiction.  Elected Democrats and bloggers from Northern Virginia yucking it up on a radio show does nothing but re-enforce the feelings of frustration many rural Democrats experience on a regular basis.  

    Further, statewide candidates visiting the cities of Charlottesville, Roanoke, Salem, Danville, Martinsville, Lynchburg et cetera and then telling rural jurisdictions that they have spent time in rural Virginia are fooling themselves.   Those of us who live here know the difference.  There are Democratic votes to be won in rural Virginia. November is expected to be another low turnout, off year election which offers the newly elected Democratic nominees an opportunity to not only value rural voters, but work to earn their votes. Maybe a visit, a phone call…something other than piles of mailers at the end of the election cycle would be nice.  

    • sallybee

      …what Fairfax could have accomplished if he had chosen to spend a little time trying to garner the vote in Central and SWVA.

    • AShifflett

      My family all lives in Rockingham County, and I have to agree.  We don’t do well in rural parts of the state because we don’t try.  

      I will say though, as a Fairfax County resident, you have to go where the votes are.  And they are in Tidewater, Richmond and up here.  

      I do think CW Jackson will get crushed here in Northern Virginia.  I don’t know anyone here in the Fairfax area that intends to vote for him.  He’ll clock in at ~10 points below what Romney did in this county.  

      Even in Rockingham County, I just can’t see him pulling much more than 50 percent.  It’ll be interesting, that’s for sure.

    • NotJohnSMosby

      So, my question is, why should they?  A candidate could spend a week going county to county in Southside or Southwest, and meet the same number of Dems as they could do in half a day in Fairfax County.  In a lot of the rural areas, there are rarely, if ever, Dem candidates for Delegate or even Senate.  If local Dems don’t do any fundraising or candidate recruitment, then what value is it to a statewide candidate to spend more than the bare minimum in the truly rural counties?  There’s no infrastructure there to support a campaign, and there’s no consistency of local Dems running for races every year to keep voters coming back.  

      Sure, they’ll visit Danville and Wytheville and maybe even Richlands and Grundy, but the cost per vote per visit is very high in a lot of places.  Making a campaign stop in Grundy is going to take up half a day, plus a private plane ride (if one is available).  That’s a lot of dough, and if you can’t fly private, then you eat up a whole day on the road.  So, as a result, mail and phone calls are the only good ways to cover those areas.

    • totallynext

      Use the limited resources and spend most of their energy in organizing the rural areas.

      In NOVA and other urban areas there are strong local committees that are capable of organizing, so the efforts of the state party should be directed where there is not a strong local party infrastructure.

      They could of tried to organize candidate forums, help with the promotion and coordination, etc.

      But I agree that the very first thing is to get local candidates for hod races.  Until we start putting dem candidates on the ballot in every area we can’t even being to capture the try demographic info.  

    • You’ve never worked in field in your entire life, have you?

      “Focus on rural voters, because combining 53 small counties spread out across the state in non-canvassable areas equals the same population of three major suburban counties!”

      What this shows is how pathetic the GOTV operations of the campaigns were, that suburban counties that contain more base Democratic voters had lower turnout than rural counties with few Democrats, only hard core activists. And you included Loudoun, which should have had insane turnout with Herring.

      This is not a good sign for this fall’s election for Democrats if we can’t get people engaged.

    • OrangeDem

      Granted I live in the backwoods of Orange County which is not actually a Democratic hot bed–my wife and I were two of the 30 voters at our precinct on Tuesday–but I think Justin could have at least made some attempt to reach the voters everywhere in the state.

      A mailer or two, a couple of local radio or t.v. spots, just something so he would not have been so anonymous to many rural voters this week.