Is “Kathleen Murphy’s victory is a bad omen for Virginia Republicans?”

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    Fascinating analysis by a self-desribed “political consultant and web developer for pro-life female candidates and elected officials in DC, Maryland, and Virginia” and “a political independent.”

    The special election for the 34th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates was on Tuesday, January 6, 2015. Turnout was anticipated to be and was indeed low. There was also a freak snowstorm.

    All this should spell doom for the Democrat Kathleen Murphy against the Republican Craig Parisot in a toss-up district, correct?

    Except it didn’t. Kathleen Murphy defeated Craig Parisot 51% – 48%. What was even more telling was that Murphy only lost to Parisot by 3 votes in Loudoun County, which was expected to carry the day for Parisot.

    Are Democrats poised to make significant gains in Virginia in 2015 after capturing all statewide offices in 2013?...Does that fact that Kathleen Murphy came within 3 votes of capturing Loudoun County with an almost nonexistent Loudoun County Democratic Committee mean that the demographic tidal wave has swept Virginia in such a way as to mitigate the DPVA’s ineptitude outside of the big 3 jurisdictions? If low turnout and bad weather hurts Democrats as both parties would agree, does Kathleen Murphy’s victory in a toss-up district bode well for Democrats in the 2015 general election where turnout is expected to be higher?

    I ran this by a few Dems I respect. Their reaction was cautious, mostly “we’ll see,” with one adding: “if Republicans take their chances for granted in safe-ish seats, then yeah, this is a harbinger.” I’d also note that a few other factors have changed recently: 1) Republicans now control the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, meaning they can no longer even semi-plausibly argue that everything’s the Democrats’ fault; 2) the economy has really improved, with economic confidence into positive territory (according to Gallup) for the first time since they started tracking this in early 2008; 3) President Obama’s approval ratings are up, with Gallup pegging them at 46%-48% as of yesterday; and 4) Republicans now control both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly, which means that Virginians will get to see just how extreme they are.

    Anyway, the bottom line is this: Democrats picked up a House of Delegates seat last night, in a “purple” district that had been held by Democrat Margi Vanderhye until the 2009 Deeds-McDonnell disaster led to delegates like her losing (in Vanderhye’s case, to right wingnut Barbara Comstock, now hanging out with her fellow right wingnuts in Congress). The fact that Dems were able to do this in a special election in early January, during a snowstorm no less, has got to be encouraging. Or am I missing some reason here why it might not be a “bad omen” for Virginia Republicans after all?