As you know, Virginia Republicans haven’t won a statewide election since 2009, with all Virginia statewide elected officials now Democrats. Also, Virginia Republicans have managed to lose several U.S. House seats, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, etc. Sensing a pattern here? Oh, and of course the Republican candidate for president hasn’t won Virginia since 2004, with a likely big loss for Trump on November 3 coming up.
Why are Republicans doing so badly in Virginia? There are many reasons, including increasingly diverse demographics, relatively high levels of education, many federal government employees, etc., etc. Another big reason, though, that shouldn’t be underestimated, is that Virginia Republicans have gone hard right, in some cases (e.g., Ken Cuccinelli, Amanda Chase, Corey Stewart) into lunatic fringe territory, even as the state has been going in the opposite direction. In short, Virginia Republicans have gone from being in step with the majority of voters in the state back in the late 1990s and into the 2000s, to wildly out of step with the majority of Virginians today.
Back in July, I wrote about this in the context of national polling. Also, see Wason Center Poll: Virginia Voters’ Support for Police Reform Measures Mostly Very Strong; Narrower on Allowing Civilians to Sue for Misconduct; New Poll: “Majority of Virginians’ think gun laws should be more strict and are willing to pay more for education”; etc. The latest evidence for how badly out of step Virginia Republicans are with the voters is a new Washington Post poll, which finds the following:
- “Virginians remain deeply concerned about the coronavirus. Sixty-five percent of Virginia registered voters are ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ worried about themselves or a family member contracting the disease, while 30 percent are less worried.” Meanwhile, we see Republican candidates for elective office, as well as the Chairman of the VA GOP, running around Virginia all the time without practicing social distancing, without wearing masks, etc. We also see them siding with Trump that we should rapidly “reopen” everything, even as the pandemic rages and new case totals reach new daily highs in the country. So…yes, Virginia Republicans are badly out of step with Virginians on COVID-19 pandemic response.
- “Democrats and independents are more likely than Republicans to say they are worried about contracting the coronavirus — 82 percent of Democrats, 65 percent of independents. A slim majority of Republicans — 51 percent — are also worried they or someone in their household might get infected.” Note that even among Republicans, “a slim majority” are worried about COVID-19. So maybe it’s more that Republican politicians are wildly out of step than the GOP rank-and-file?
- “Among registered voters, more women say they are worried about the disease than men, at 72 percent to 58 percent.” And Republicans wonder why there’s a huge “gender gap” working against them?
- “And concern is highest in the most populous areas of the state, though even the region expressing relatively low concern — the Northern Virginia exurbs — is at 58 percent.” Note that Republicans are weakest in…the most populous areas of the state, from Hampton Roads to Richmond to Northern Virginia. Gee, wonder why?
- “While Virginia Republicans have made a case for reopening public schools for in-person classes around the state, the poll shows that most registered voters are not ready for that. Nearly 6 in 10 Virginia voters oppose requiring public schools to reopen for in-person classes five days a week, while 35 percent support mandating schools to reopen.” Nope, Virginians are NOT in sync with Virginia Republicans – such as State Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant or all of these folks – on this one. Not at all. Again, “85 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of independents oppos[e] in-person school reopenings.”
- Gov. Northam, who Republicans frequently attack, is actually very popular among Virginians overall, at 56%-38% approval.
- Also note that Gov. Northam “is particularly strong among Black registered voters, with 79 percent approving of his performance, compared with 49 percent of White registered voters.” And “a large majority of Democrats, 85 percent, approve of Northam’s performance as governor.” Independents also approve of Gov. Northam, by a large (59%-36%) margin. But…nope, not Republicans, who disapprove of Gov. Northam by a 21%-73% margin.
- Finally, re: Donald Trump, Republicans yet again live in an alternate reality, with 88%-12% (+76 points) approval of Trump, compared to 39%-59% (-20 points) among Independents and 4%-96% (-92 points) among Democrats.
So…yeah, it’s not really a surprise – or shouldn’t be – that Virginia Republicans keep getting their clocks cleaned at the voting booths every election. And so far, there’s no sign of this situation changing, with Republicans continuing to go even further right, such as in VA05, where they ousted the *very* conservative Rep. Denver Riggleman in favor of the faaaaar-right nutjob Bob Good. We’ll see what Virginia Republicans do next year, but so far, given that the frontrunner for their gubernatorial nomination is extremist Amanda Chase (with VERY conservative Kirk Cox also a possibility), it’s not looking like they have learned their decade’s-long lesson yet.