Home Virginia Politics “Embrace GOP positions, snub base…Lose elections anyway”

“Embrace GOP positions, snub base…Lose elections anyway”


I think Miles pretty much nails it with this tweet. Here are just a few examples, off the top of my head, who have done what Miles describes (and lost anyway) over the past few years in Virginia.

*Creigh Deeds 2005 (ran as a conservative Democrat against Bob McDonnell, only got a few more votes than Leslie Byrne, who ran as a proud, forceful progressive)

*Creigh Deeds 2009 (the whole theory by the so-called “experts” was that a more conservative Democrat from a rural area would have more appeal to independents, “moderates,” blah blah blah. So much for THAT theory!)

*Jody Wagner 2009 (although she certainly did everything Miles talks about – she even agreed to meet with progressives, LGBT activists and environmentalists who were dismayed by her campaign – in fairness she had no chance given the wipeout at the top of the ticket)

*Glenn Nye 2010 (ran to the right, ran away from the Democratic Party, lost by 11 points to Scott Rigell, while Tom Perriello – who ran as a strong Democrat, proud of his values – only lost by 4 points in as tough or tougher a district)

*Rick Boucher 2010 (He gave coal companies everything they asked for. He lost anyway.)

*Ward Armstrong 2011 (As Miles wrote on November 9, 2011, “As for me, what I’ll remember most about the 2011 election cycle is this ad from House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong trashing just about everything Democrats believe in. The leader of House Democrats – as chosen by his fellow House Democrats – distances himself from President Obama, a woman’s right to choose, reasonable gun safety regulations, and limits on air pollution – all in one ad.”)

*Paul Hirschbiel 2012 (classic conservadem campaign, classic results, as he lost by 8 points to Scott Rigell while Tim Kaine AND Barack Obama were winning that district)

(Honorable mention: Wayne Powell 2012 would have lost to Eric Can’tor anyway, but running to the right certainly didn’t help him any.)

*Mike Hymes 2014 (Classic example; this one wasted something approaching a million bucks to get 9,264 votes – around $100 per Hymes voter, many of whom would have turned out with a simple notice that there was an election, so it’s actually a lot worse than that – and lose by 28 percentage points, in addition to running away from Democratic values on issue after issue – woohoo!)

(Honorable mention: Lynwood Lewis 2014 – he came within 11 votes of losing a race he was supposed to win easily, after running to the right, dissing/ignoring the “base,” etc.)

Sensing a pattern here?  

  • pa2vadem

    Mary Sue Terry was way ahead in the polls until she stated “I do not agree with Bill Clinton. I am more in allignment with Ronald Reagan.” This was after Hillary Clinton and Tipper Gore held a fundraiser for her. She was trounced by a “real” Republican, George Allen. Meanwhile, Don Beyer (my future Congressman) stated he supported Bill Clinton and won the Lt. Governorship.

    Remember that Harry Truman said that if one had a choice between voting for a real Republican versus a faux Republican, the real Republican would win.

  • campaignman

    In districts defined as “swing” experts almost always recommend appealing to the middle to find votes, rather than driving out more progressive by inspiring them.

    That is too simple a view though.  The question should be, where are the potential votes to win?  

    In Pucket’s district, the votes were there for him in past elections.  Yet, even he apparently doubted they would still be there in the next election.  Given that, it would have made more sense to seek a new supply of voters to fill that gap by making new arguments and enticing a new set of people to turn out.

    I haven’t looked but I am curious as to whether there were Democrats who turned out for Obama or Terry but did not turn out for Hymes?  That would be a strong indication as to there was a viable option to run a true liberal, or whether the seat is simply unwinnable at this point in history.

    Alternatively, given how low the turnout was, what was the possibility of offering the idea that it was time to accept that natural gas was putting coal out of business and that one candidate would bring new industries and financial aid to people as they moved to those industries, while the other was living in the past and fighting the power of the free market?

    In other words, instead of allowing the GOP to claim that the EPA was putting coal out of business, it might have made more sense to argue that the free market that the GOP loves was putting coal out of business but the government, that Democrats believe in, would be there to help people if they elected a Democrat to seek that help.

  • Mallsus2

    by the vast majority of our SWVA Democratic infrastructure until the old world mentality is replaced.  

  • campaignman

    Mike Hymes did better than progressive Barack Obama by a percentage of the vote.  Yet, Barack did get the support of more actual voters then Ben Chafin did.

    General Election – November 2012

    Mitt Romney (R) 49,820 67.20%   (Winner)

    Barack Obama (D) 23,016 31.04%  

    Gary Earl Johnson (L) 518 0.70%

    Jill Stein (Green) 209 0.28%

    Mike Hymes was beaten handily in what was the largest turnout election for a special election this year, about 25%.

    General Election – August 19, 2014 (SPECIAL)

    Ben Chafin (R) 17,440 59.67%  (Winner)

    Mike Hymes (D) 9,264 31.69%

    Rick Mullins (I) 2,515 8.59%

    What might have happened had Democrats put up a popular and inspirational progressive and convinced the voters that, in a low-turnout election, if the Obama Dems turned out, the Democrat would win?

    These are the results from 2011.

    General Election – November 8, 2011

    Adam Light (R) 23,328 46.91%

    Phil Puckett* (D) 26,339 52.97%

    Unfortunately, even turning out all the Obama voters wouldn’t, alone, win the day in 2015.  

    Puckett exceeded the Obama vote in the District by some 3,000 based upon his personality, reputation, incumbency, etc…  He obviously doubted his ability to do that again because redistricting made his seat more competitive.

    Given Mike Hymes loss though, it seems like a good time for a popular progressive candidate to run and test his or her ability to find enough votes.  

    Why not try to inspire voters?

    If that happens, I’d love to see that person run on the arguments that:

    a) natural gas has been the real enemy of coal, not the EPA,

    b) Chafin is lying about the idea that fighting the EPA will restore or save coal jobs, and

    c) Marketplace Virginia is great for the people of the district because every person should be able to buy their own reasonably priced health insurance, with financial assistance if needed, rather than be forced into bankruptcy by a medical crisis.

  • Paba

    Ok, so I live down here in the “Real Virginia,” and quite frankly, having lived as well in Arlington, I can’t say that anyone from that far away not just geographically but mostly culturally has any clue how to win an election down here, but you’re welcome to come try if you think no one here can do it. Step 1: no one likes to be told they “don’t know what’s best for them.” Not saying it goes on in campaigns, but that term sure gets thrown around a lot here. With that as a starting point, who would blame someone for not listening to you (no matter how logical you think you are)? It’s basic human interaction.

    I could go on, but in the interest of a D majority, I’m going to move on.

    So where are the 51 house seats that can be won with a straightforward “REAL Democrat” (whatever that means, there’s never been a monolithich Democratic Party. Compare the one in the majority today in WV to the one in the majority in California) campaign? Using your own standard, let’s see how many house districts Herring was able to win. That was as pure a “Generic D vs. Generic R” (the avg voter was not reading this website to learn about the intricacies of Obenshain’s ideology and doesn’t know the term “trap law” from a bear trap, face it) as we’ve had in a Virginia General Election recently.

    I like maps:


    Correct me if I’m wrong (I counted 3 times), but that’s 39 seats. That means that there’s 7 seats where voters split their ticket for the Republican for House. Was this because they really liked Herring? Or was it because they like the work of their current delegate and see no reason to swap them for an unknown quantity? Something still has to be said for constituent services and retail campaigning in this case. Regardless, if they couldn’t dislodge them among voters who voted Herring, then we’re probably stuck waiting for them to retire.

    But even then, we’re 12 seats away from 51! Where the hell are the other 12 you’re gonna carry which, based on common sense, are red districts? Are we going to throw up our hands and blame redistricting forever?

    There’s a couple that are swing-ish, sure. Look for the pink ones in that VPAP map. The 12th is winnable, but not while Joseph Yost is there. He’s a survivor and a sympathetic figure among average voters now, thanks to whoever in Montgomery County thought a campaign focused strongly on abortion was good for a swing, still very rural district with some college kids who may or may not care when Obama’s not on the ballot. I mean, you can’t make an opponent’s wife have to discuss her miscarriage and expect to get people to side with you. If I was in Montgomery, I’d insist on replacing everyone at every level by next time, but I’m not, so I digress.

    Back to pink districts: there are 15 of them on the Herring map. Most are in the major metros, but they aren’t all typical of that area. I’m thinking of western Loudoun, the Eastern Shore, that aforementioned Montgomery-Giles County one, Stafford County, PW, etc. They ranged between 54 to 50% Obenshain.

    This means you’re looking at flipping at least some small number of voters who vote GOP but might in some yet unknown circumstance flip to a D. They aren’t “base” voters. They may not even be Kaine voters. In all likelihood, they may be those voters that found a reason to vote Warner, but no other Dem.

    Eventually, you’re going to have to chase crossover voters like Warner has. The blue “base” isn’t going to win much below statewide right now, and waiting on demographics is a lazy solution that could take decades.

    Now give me your solutions, people.

  • Paba

    that means you have to find some new way to make a bunch of voters who may or may not have only showed up for Obama to not only keep voting once he exits the scene (his inclusion on the ballot was seismic compared to 2004, 2008 in some areas), but to expand their interests to an election one year after The Big One when they may or may not be sick of politics after getting bombarded the year before. Remember, a lot of these folks aren’t VA natives and might be from a state that only holds elections on a schedule mirroring the national calendar. Or they might just be Obama fans, as I mentioned. Either way, we know that if someone’s not showing up but for the Presidential, they’re likely a low info voter.

    What’s easier: making what are likely low-info voters care more a year after getting carpet-bombed by PAC ads for the Presidential, or fighting for the 4% that already vote and that it would take to flip a district that’s 50-54% Obenshain?