Virginia Notebook: Election Answers
RICHMOND- Here are the answers to the election questions asked in the Oct. 25 Virginia Notebook after Democrats won the four seats needed to reclaim control of the state Senate and also make inroads in the House of Delegates.
Q Can a Republican still win inside the Beltway?
A Maybe. With Democrat Margaret G. Vanderhye's victory over Republican David M. Hunt for the seat of retiring Del. Vincent F. Callahan Jr. (R-Fairfax), there will be no elected Republican state official next year representing an inside-the-Beltway district. Hunt lost by just 540 votes, however. In Alexandria, Del. David L. Englin (D) beat Republican challenger Mark S. Allen by nearly 2 to 1. Even so, I wouldn't write off a Republican candidate's chance to someday prevail in Arlington, Alexandria or Fairfax.
Will 177,000 people who signed a petition against the abusive-driver fees show up and vote?
The State Board of Elections has not released official voter turnout statistics, but preliminary data suggest turnout was no higher than in 2003, when 31 percent of registered voters showed up. Democrats say abusive-driver fees helped defeat Republican Sens. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis and James K. "Jay" O'Brien, both of Fairfax, and D. Nick Rerras of Norfolk. All three lost to Democratic challengers who campaigned against the incumbents' vote in favor of the fees. But Republicans point to Del. Thomas Davis Rust (R-Fairfax) as proof that the fees didn't hurt their candidates. Rust, one of the sponsors of the fees, beat Democrat Jay P. Donahue by six percentage points.
Is Corey A. Stewart the savior of the Republican Party in Prince William County?
Prince William slowed its march toward Democrats on Nov. 6. Once reliably Republican, Prince William voters supported Timothy M. Kaine (D) for governor in 2005 and James Webb (D) over Republican George Allen last year for U.S. Senate. Based on those results, Democrats were hoping to unseat several GOP legislators from Prince William. Stewart's push to crack down on illegal immigration doomed Democrats' chances of making big gains. Democrats did pick up one open seat in Prince William after Paul Nichols defeated Republican Faisal Gill. Republicans also failed to unseat Sen. Charles J. Colgan (D-Prince William), despite his opponent's efforts to label him as soft on immigration.
Can Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) translate his popularity into votes for Democrats?
Even though Kaine has a 63 percent approval rating, Virginia governors traditionally have had a hard time translating their popularity into votes for other candidates. Democrats picked up four House and four Senate seats in Hampton Roads and in Northern Virginia, two regions where Kaine ran strongest in 2005. Although demographic changes and local issues probably contributed to those victories, Kaine will be known as the governor who helped Democrats win back the Senate after a decade of GOP control.
Can a candidate in Virginia win if he or she once advocated an end to public education?
No. Democrat John C. Miller defeated Patricia B. "Tricia" Stall, a Republican candidate for the Senate in the Tidewater area who once signed a petition expressing support for "ending government involvement in education."
Will future state legislative candidates in Northern Virginia air commercials on network television?
Probably. In a first for the Washington region, at least seven state Senate candidates aired campaign commercials on network TV this year. Political strategists are debating whether the expensive ads were worth it, but it will be hard to convince future candidates that network television ads this year didn't have some affect on voters' decisions.
Will President Bush motivate voters go to the polls?
Because there were no exit polls asking people why they showed up to vote, this question is open. I think Bush helped motivate some Democrats to the polls. A Washington Post poll in early October found Bush was unpopular in every region of the state. Outside of Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, Democrats failed to pick up any legislative seats. Yet there is anecdotal evidence that Bush may have played a role in Northern Virginia, where Democrats made gains. A washingtonpost.com videographer encountered voters in McLean on Election Day who said they were voting because of their frustration with the Bush administration.
Can Democrats sweep all three competitive Senate races in Fairfax?
Democrats came close, knocking off Davis and O'Brien, but they may come up just short of a three-seat sweep. Pending a possible recount, Sen. Ken T. Cuccinelli holds a 92-vote lead over Democrat Janet S. Oleszek.
Will immigration save the GOP, or will it backfire?
Calls to crack down on illegal immigration appear to have helped several Republican candidates in Prince William. Republicans say the issue also resonated in southern Virginia, but there is little evidence the issue helped the GOP in Tidewater or Fairfax and Loudoun counties. Some say the illegal immigration issue energized the GOP base, which prevented even greater Republican losses.
Can the Democrats make inroads downstate?
No. Kaine and former governor Mark R. Warner (D) campaigned for House candidates in rural, southern Virginia, but they all lost.
Will Republicans unseat any incumbent Democratic senators or delegates?
No, all Democratic incumbents won, including Colgan and Del. C. Charles Caputo (D-Fairfax).
Will Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) gain an early advantage in the 2009 governor's race?
Probably not. Since late spring, Moran had been predicting that Democrats would pick up three to six House seats. They gained four, which should give Moran some bragging rights as he heads into 2009. Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath), who is also considering a bid for governor, can argue that he helped Democrats retake the Senate. Democrats have to ponder who their strongest candidate in 2009 will be.
Will all the negative mail depress or increase turnout?
The negative mail appears to have neither increased or decreased turnout statewide. In some races that featured lots of negative mail, turnout was slightly higher than it was four years ago. In Cuccinelli's race against Oleszek, turnout was 31 percent, compared with 28 percent four years ago.
Can a candidate who switched positions on abuser fees be reelected?
Yes. Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William) voted for the fees but came out against them in August. The local media labeled Lingamfelter a flip-flopper, which his Democratic opponent, Bill S. Day Jr., sought to exploit. Lingamfelter beat Day by 10 percentage points.
Did the lobbyists make the right bet by giving more to Democrats?
November 14, 2007; 10:57 AM ET
Categories: Abusive Driver Fees , Campaign Ads , Election 2007 , Election 2009 , General Assembly 2008 , Immigration , James P. Moran Jr. , Thomas M. Davis III , Tim Craig , Timothy M. Kaine , Virginia Notebook , Winners and Losers
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