Value the Rural Voter

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    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.  

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