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Twelve Days of Christmas for Virginia Democrats: Day Five, Unchallenged Incumbents

This is the fifth part of a twelve part series looking at the challenges, obstacles, and future possibilities of Virginia Democrats. Here are the previous diaries: Day One, Competitive Districts. Day Two, Turnout Problems. Day Three, Past Mistakes. Day Four, Downstate Democrats. To show that you've read this diary and support the project, please vote in the poll at the end. Thank you!

On the fifth day of Christmas, the Commonwealth of Virginia gave to me ...

Incumbents who are so safe in their seats they don't remember the last time they had to actually campaign. Could they even fundraise if they tried? Do they know anything about targeting, polling, and tools like Votebuilder or Catalyst?

In 2013, 41 incumbent Delegates were not even challenged by another candidate, either by the other major party or by a minor party candidate. One more was able to win their first election without any challenge at all, walking right into office. That may seem sad, but it's an improvement over 2011, when 59 incumbents were unchallenged in their newly drawn districts. That's similar to elections in 2003, 2005, and 2007, where over 60 delegates on average, almost two-thirds of the chamber, were unchallenged. In the ten years from 2003 to 2013, well over half of all delegate races were unchallenged.

Twelve Days of Christmas for Virginia Democrats: Day Four, Silenced Downstate...

This is the fourth part of a twelve part series looking at the challenges, obstacles, and future possibilities of Virginia Democrats. Day one focused on challenges facing Virginia Democrats in competitive districts, day two focused on problems with turnout. On day three, we were visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past to teach us the lessons of past campaign mistakes. Thank you for reading, please make sure you vote on the poll at the end!

On the fourth day of Christmas, the Commonwealth of Virginia gave to me...A Republican gerrymandering that has silenced Democratic voters downstate at the House of Delegates!

Wait, another post on gerrymandering? Lame!

Hold on, hear me out, this is about an aspect of Republican gerrymandering that has gone more unnoticed. As we know from day one, the Republican gerrymander isn't the only problem facing Virginia Democrats in the House of Delegates. But the gerrymandering's impact has negatively influenced Democratic recruits for higher office outside of Northern Virginia.

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

This is the third part of a twelve part series looking at the challenges, obstacles, and future possibilities of Virginia Democrats. Day one focused on challenges facing Virginia Democrats in competitive districts, Day two focused on problems with turnout. Thank you for reading, make sure you vote on the poll at the end!

On the third day of Christmas, the Commonwealth of Virginia gave to me...FLASH!

Hark! I am the Ghost of Christmas Past! I represent poor choices, mistakes, and questionable judgment. Let us travel first to 2009, the year in which eight Democratic incumbents were defeated during a landslide Republican election. Listen to my warnings!

In 2009, the Democratic Caucus spent almost $100,000 assisting Democrat Carole Pratt's campaign in the 6th District, an overwhelmingly Republican district where Bush had won over 60% of the vote in 2004 and where Anne Crockett-Stark had knocked off Democrat Benny Keister in 2005. In 2008, Obama managed just under 38% of the vote, 1% ahead of Kerry's 2004 performance. Yet the House Democratic Caucus led by Matt Mansell decided to prioritize this race where his mother was running ...

The result? Pratt received less than 35% of the vote. And elsewhere, incumbent Democrats dropped left and right, for a total of eight defeated incumbents, including some by the narrowest of margins: Mathieson by 14 votes, Valentine by 209, Nichols by 269, and Vanderhye by 422.

Twelve Days of Christmas for Virginia Democrats: Day Two, Turnout Problems

(This is the second part of a twelve part series looking at the challenges, obstacles, and future possibilities of Virginia Democrats. Check out day one. Please join in by commenting below your thoughts on some of the topics raised in the diary, and please vote in the poll at the end on which rematch you'd like to see in 2015!)

On the second day of Christmas, the Commonwealth of Virginia gave to me ...

A system of odd-year elections, shared mainly by Southern outliers and hotbeds of two-party democracy (hah!) like Mississippi and Louisiana that depresses voter turnout from high profile elections in even-years.

In 1948, the great American political scientist V.O. Key wrote that Virginia was a "political museum piece . . . more akin to England about the time of the Reform Bill of 1832 than to any other American state."

Have we changed much since then?

Twelve Days of Christmas for Virginia Democrats: Day One, A Gerrymander!

Don't forget to take the poll at the end on your least favorite part of the Republican gerrymander!

On the first day of Christmas, the Commonwealth of Virginia gave to me ...

A Republican gerrymander in the House of Delegates that is the excuse for everything that goes wrong?

It may seem as exciting as a lump of coal, but the Republican gerrymander in the House of Delegates gets a lot of attention from thankful Virginia Democrats. Why? Because these district lines have become the perfect excuse for the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad performance of House Democrats in 2013.

Manage to pick up only one seat, on net, in the House of Delegates? No worries, blame the Republican gerrymander!

A total of 14 Barack Obama-won delegate districts still held by Republicans, and 16 won by Tim Kaine? Mumble mumble, gerrymandering ...

Terry McAuliffe won 11 delegate districts held by Republican Delegates, and Mark Herring still won 9, but .. Look over there, it's a gerrymander! Run for your lives!

Virginia Democrats Discover a Winning Game Plan for 2010?

It looks like Virginia Democrats may have found a winning political game plan for 2010.
Although Boucher didn't mention his opponents, a number of other state Democrats -- House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong of Henry County, and Virginia Sens. Creigh Deeds of Bath County, John Edwards of Roanoke and Roscoe Reynolds of Henry County -- took shots at Griffith, as well as at other state Republican leaders including Gov. Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

As much as Republicans have tried to pair Boucher with Obama, Armstrong and the three Democratic senators tied Griffith to McDonnell and Cuccinelli, who have drawn national attention -- much of it negative -- since taking office earlier this year.

The four also assaulted Griffith's record in the House of Delegates, painting him as the leader of a Republican majority that's cut education and resisted efforts to restrict electricity rates.

There, in a nutshell, is how Virginia Democrats may be able to stem the "Tea Party" tide and hang on in 2010. Just as we tied Jerry Kilgore, George Allen and John McCain to the unpopular George W. Bush, the strategy this year apparently is to tie Republican Congressional candidates to the GOP's dynamic duo of derangement, Bob "Pat Robertson's Manchuriacn Candidate" McDonnell and Ken Kook-inelli. The beauty of this strategy is that McDonnell and Kook-inelli are the gifts that keep on giving, with new insanity - covering Virtus' bosom, launching a medieval witch hunt against academic freedom at UVA, working to make it easier to discriminate against gays and lesbians, saying that slavery is not "significant" enough to be included in a "Confederate History Month" proclamation, dabbling in "birtherism," naming a guy who defrauded another states' pension funds to head a panel on "reforming" Virginia state government - almost every day.  Combined with an improving economy and better poll numbers for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, maybe 2010 won't be such a bad year, politically speaking, after all?

P.S. Democrats also might want to tie Republicans to craziness like this.

UPDATE: On a related note, I strongly recommend that you read "Tamara Dietrich: Cuccinelli's sin against climate science". It concludes, "...here in Cuccinelli's new Unenlightenment, this Age of Unreason, a neo-witch hunt fits right in. Pour on the kerosene, and let the flames begin."