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People Care FAR Less About the 2015 VA Gen. Assembly Elections than the 2016 Presidential Race

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There’s no definitive way to measure that, of course, but I think there’s a good proxy: look at the number of comments in the Washington Post for articles dealing with: a) the Virginia 2015 General Assembly elections, which I’d remind everyone are just 42 days away; and b) the 2016 presidential elections, which are significantly further away.  For instance:

*With Virginia Senate up for grabs, a mad dash for cash in key contests was posted Monday at 4:15 pm, now has a grand total of 1 (one) comment; Scott Walker, an early contender, makes surprise exit from 2016 race was posted at 7:35 pm Monday, now has 552 comments. That’s a more than 500:1 ratio in comments on the 2016 presidential story vs. the Virginia 2015 State Senate story. Hmmm.

*Defending one of rural Virginia’s last bits of blue – article about the crucial Virginia State Senate race for the seat held by John Edwards (D) in the Roanoke area – posted on Sunday, has 14 comments; Ben Carson says he would not support a Muslim for president, also posted Sunday, has 470 comments. That’s a 34:1 margin in favor of the Carson story over the Edwards story.

I checked the RTD, by the way, but for whatever reason that paper’s articles hardly get any comments. I also checked a couple leading conservative Virginia blogs. On Bearing Drift, Brian Schoeneman’s post yesterday about Ben Carson, ENOUGH WITH THE RELIGIOUS BIGOTRY ALREADY, has an astounding 207 comments; in stark contrast, Shaun Kenney’s post – also yesterday – on a key Virginia State Senate race, VA PILOT: MCCOLLUM’S “STUPID” MISTAKE CONTINUES TO SHOCK OBSERVERS, has just 1 comment. At The Bull Elephant, a post on Saturday entitled (ironically, given the results I’m finding here?)) Why Local Politics Matter, has 3 comments; while a Friday post about 2016, Pale Faced Liberals Speak With Forked Tongue, has 27 comments. I’ve also consistently noted more interest in/comments on posts here at Blue Virginia  – let alone at leading national progressive blog Daily Kos – about 2016 presidential politics than about the Virginia 2015 elections this November. Sensing a pattern?

By the way, I’m also hearing this same thing in conversations with Virginia House and Senate political operatives and candidates, many of whom are struggling to get attention and funds for their races, while most people focus – to the extent they follow politics at all – on 2016 national stuff.

So here’s the utterly crazy thing: your vote, activism, monetary contributions, commentary on websites, you name it, matter proprortionately WAYYYYY more for local/state races than for the 2016 presidential contest. Not even close. Also, again, the Virginia elections – which will determine, among other things, control of the State Senate for Gov. McAuliffe’s final two years in office and beyond – this year are in just a few weeks, while the first 2016 presidential contest isn’t until the Iowa caucuses on February 1, 2016.  Yet most people I talk to or see commenting on websites are overwhelmingly focused in the opposite direction. Of course, we are the same species that pays much more attention to many other things that are far less important (e.g., celebrity gossip, shark attacks, football, whatever) than things that are far more important (e.g., climate change, economic inequality, the refugee crisis in Europe). So sure, it’s human nature not to put the appropriate amount of attention and effort onto certain things relative to other things, but still, as someone who believes strongly in the slogan, “think globally, act LOCALLY,” I’ve got to admit I find it frustrating.  

  • Quizzical

    McCollum was getting some licks in on Wagner 12 days ago:

    http://hamptonroads.com/2015/0

    I’d like to see some more of that. If McCollum is going down because of his misstatement about his status in the Individual Ready Reserve, at least he should go down fighting.

    And by the way, McCollum’s campaign website is about as interesting as a bowl of cold oatmeal.  How can you be running for political office in Virginia Beach and not say anything about the rise in sea level and what needs to be done about it?

  • hrprogressive

    According to VPAP, out of 100 HD seats, only 37 are contested. A whopping 73% of all House of Delegates seats are not even contested! Most of them are held by Republicans, but a few are held by Democrats. In what universe is that “Democracy”? It isn’t, because there’s literally no choice. I am one where I have no choice for my Delegate, because there’s only one person running, the incumbent.

    That. Is. Pathetic.

    On the Senate side, there are 18 uncontested seats, but out of only 40 SDs that’s still almost 50%.

    So, the Commonwealth of Virginia is holding election for all of their state-level representatives, and literally – literally literally – 60% of elected officials are guaranteed not to change, because they have no opponents.

    Obvious, the politically attuned know that local activism and local elections have a far greater consequence on local citizen’s lives than national elections do, but local citizens are just as slack-jawed as ever, and the national freak show that is the Republican Primary Season has got two three-ring circuses going on simultaneously. It’s like a bad wreck on I-64 that you can’t look away from, and everyone is doing it.

    A potent, and depressing combination of low voter engagement, plus the literal sense that your vote kind of doesn’t matter for the 60% of seats with no real race, means nobody really gives a rat’s ass about local elections.

    I don’t really see it changing anytime soon. The state party hasn’t doing jack, so. We’re kind of stuck.

  • John Oliver (unsurprisingly) has a fantastic piece on state and local elections, and how Americans ignore them at their peril: https://www.youtube.com/watch?…

    (I show this in my State and Local Politics class. The whole point of that class is to show students that this stuff matters just as much, if not more, than national politics.)