Monday, February 17, 2020
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Virginia – If We Can’t Change Their MINDS, It’s Time to...

Virginia Republicans really hate the idea of people voting. Especially the elderly, those in assistant-living facilities (AND their caregivers!), college students, working-class folks, those...

Bernie and Hillary, Give Us the Campaign We Need

Your recent squabble — with one questioning whether the other is “qualified to be president” — highlights how you two have not...

Confronting an Obstacle to Democratic Unity against Trump and the GOP

A piece that I posted here a few days ago I posted also on another website, opednews.com. My work has been appearing on that...

It’s Never Over in Virginia

The dust has settled over the Commonwealth after election day 2014, and Mark Warner will survive to serve out another six years in the Senate ... assuming he stays that long. But there's no end to campaigns in Virginia, which because of our odd-year election cycle hosts heated elections every calendar year. For instance, with newly elected Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, there will soon be a special election for the 34th House of Delegates district. Other special elections will be held in the 4th district (Southwest Virginia, to replace newly elected State Senator Ben Chafin) and the 63rd district (Petersburg, to replace newly elected State Senator Rosalyn Dance) -- but don't expect any surprises there. Here's a preview of what to look forward to in Virginia politics.

34th House of Delegates Special Election
Let's give a brief history of the 34th in the last few election cycles. In 2007, Republican incumbent Vince Callahan retired and the open seat was won in a good Democratic year by Margi Vanderhye. Margi had defeated Rip Sullivan in the Democratic primary (Rip is finally making his way to Richmond from the 48th District). I wonder if Rip's pleased that he didn't end up in the 34th, as in 2009 a Republican tsunami swept out Vanderhye by 422 votes.

Twelve Days of Christmas for Virginia Democrats: Day Ten, Independent Redistricting?

Welcome to this twelve part series looking at the challenges, obstacles, and future possibilities of Virginia Democrats. As we approach the end, take a look back at some of the earlier diaries: Day One, Competitive Districts. Day Two, Turnout Problems. Day Three, Past Mistakes. Day Four, Downstate Democrats. Day Five, Unchallenged Incumbents. Day Six, Present Opportunities. Day Seven, Democratic Trends. Day Eight, Swing Voters. Day Nine, 2021 Redistricting. Thank you for reading.

On the tenth day of Christmas, the Commonwealth of Virginia gave to me...Independent Redistricting, the long awaited for, much hoped for, yet ever-elusive good government reform that will reconnect politicians with voters, end polarization, and put Virginia back on track.

Well, no. If you want to really reconnect politicians with voters, you need to expand the number of districts so there are fewer people per district. End polarization? Political scientists have found little to no evidence that gerrymandering is driving polarization; you'll have to tackle housing preferences and the individual sorting of voters to do that. Independent redistricting will not even solve all the challenges and obstacles of the Virginia Democratic Party, as the first diary showed that there are many Democratic-leaning seats that the state party is not winning at this time.

So why talk about redistricting reform?

Because unlike campaign finance reform or expanding the size of the General Assembly, independent redistricting, or at least something more partisan-neutral, may be closer to reality than you think.

Twelve Days of Christmas for Virginia Democrats: Day Nine, The Ghost...

Welcome to this twelve part series looking at the challenges, obstacles, and future possibilities of Virginia Democrats. If you've missed past diaries, follow these links: Day One, Competitive Districts. Day Two, Turnout Problems. Day Three, Past Mistakes. Day Four, Downstate Democrats. Day Five, Unchallenged Incumbents. Day Six, Present Opportunities. Day Seven, Democratic Trends. Day Eight, Swing Voters. Thank you for reading. No poll this time, but I do have a question at the end I want comments on!

A phantom of darkness suddenly appears, gliding ominously over the ground toward you. Shrouded in the blackest cloak, its head and face are entirely concealed. One skeletal hand stretches out toward your, a boney finger directed behind you. From beneath the hood, you can feel the gaze of two ghostly eyes directing you to turn around. Doing so, you feel transported ...

Redistricting: Where We’ve Been, Where We Are, and Where We’re Going

Lowell already brought to our attention the good news that the courts handed the Republicans a defeat in the first round of what may prove to be a long legal fight over redistricting in Virginia. I am no legal scholar, but I was excited by the news that the judge dismissed the Republican argument that "shall" doesn't really mean "shall" and found that the group of Virginia citizens had standing for the lawsuit to move forward. But Governor McDonnell is moving forward with the same incumbent protection plan that the House Republicans (with a few unfortunate Democratic allies) pushed through last year in 2011. With redistricting still a big question mark moving forward, just months away from the November election, I wanted to take some time to sort through the entire mess. Where we've been, where we are, and where we're going.

Where We've Been
Going back over a decade ago, Virginia Republicans in 2001 had the "privilege" of controlling redistricting for the first time in the modern era. They leveraged this advantage into pressuring Virgil Goode, already a Democrat-In-Name-Only who had voted to impeach President Clinton, to officially leave the party and begin to caucus with the GOP. They also worked to shore up newly elected Congressman Randy Forbes in the 4th, who had won a special election by a very close margin.

Below, I've calculated the partisan lean of the post-2000 census drawn district based on the 2000 Presidential numbers relative to the national average. So a R +6 district is one in which George W. Bush ran 6 points ahead of his national showing (47.87%, or rounded to 48%), which as we all know was less than Al Gore's popular vote national...