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Dems Show Pulse; PA Voters Jettison I.D. Backers

   [The Achenblog is rather quiescent due to deadline factors. Nonetheless a brief post.]

   How do we interpret the Democratic tide in Northern Virginia? We argue, with a reckless mixing of metaphors, that it could be the canary in the coal mine for Republicans who have been enjoying one-party rule. Mark Warner presumably has chartered a jet to New Hampshire to begin his prexy campaign. Historians will make comparisons to 1798, to the Federalist overreach that opened the door to Jefferson & Co. Democrats holding tenured chairs at elite universities are dreaming again of Cabinet jobs and seats on the SC. And Rush Limbaugh will find a way to blame the Democratic victories in Virginia and New Jersey on the liberal media. 

   Our reporter Steven Ginsberg quotes James E. Hyland, a Republican House candidate who lost in Fairfax County: "I personally knocked on thousands of doors . . . but it was difficult to overcome a Democratic tide like this." He said he was too close, geographically, to the White House: "We're close to Washington . . . so we're closer to national trends."

    Those of you who aren't familiar with the domain of Lord Fairfax should understand that it used to be a lovely Piedmont region with cornfields and vineyards and the occasional horsey person in jodhpurs, but now has roughly 300 million residents, all of them currently stuck in a traffic jam. Main Street is something called Route 7, also known as the Leesburg Pike, and it has become 40 miles of uninterrupted retail shopping. This sprawling region is culturally more diverse than you'd think, thanks to the immigrant population, and it's full of swing voters. The Commonwealth of Virginia went for Nixon in 1968, and has been a red state since, but the dramatic growth in population has been in NoVa. Anyone hoping to win the White House in 2008 will want to get out there on the Pike and work the entrances to the big box stores. Hint: Walking may be faster than driving.

    Meanwhile, in Peter Slevin's story about the Kansas Board of Education -- which wants the science curriculum to cast doubt on evolution and include material about Intelligent Design, and presumably also about phrenology, astrology, perpetual motion machines, and evil spirits that live in the hollow Earth -- there's this bulletin from Pennsylvania: "Eight school board members in Dover, Pa., who backed 'intelligent design' were ousted by voters Tuesday, the Associated Press reported."

    Four billion years of evolution has apparently resulted in a creature that, at least in Pennsylvania, knows the difference between science and religion.

By Joel Achenbach  |  November 9, 2005; 11:18 AM ET
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