Three candidates have arisen for the Republican nomination for the US Senate seat of Tim Kaine in Virginia, Corey Stewart, EW Jackson, and Nick Freitas. Each comes with their negatives and positives. Each has brought their own strategy to the table in the approach to the June Primary. Three important facts that should play into the Republican Party of Virginia’s overall strategy when it comes to this election: 1. Hillary Clinton & Tim Kaine won in Virginia by more than 5% in 2016. 2. Terry McAuliffe who was Governor of Virginia at the time made several moves that gave the democrats additional voters (a potential 3% impact), which they would not have otherwise had in that election. Ralph Northam the current Governor has done nothing to change any of that.
Methods: The model upon which this analysis is based is proprietary, however, the election information that served to create them is available online at the Virginia Department of State Web Site and from the Republican Party of Virginia. This is not a poll. It is an election simulation based on historical election results taking into account current candidates’ characteristics, campaigns, and issues. The characteristics that were assembled and tested are all objective five value evaluation criteria, for example, Strongly opposes, opposes, ignores, supports, strongly supports. The answer is based on mentions and tenor of language from public pronouncements, press releases, or other publicly available information. Candidate characteristics such as education, jobs, prior public office, and military service, were taken from online biographies and campaign web sites. Historical voting records for those candidates who have held public office before are available online.
Votes and voters were clustered via voting patterns in specific areas over time where different issues had been shown to be drivers of votes. The ratios of voters tied to particular issues and which issue is more important was created via regression analysis. As these drivers change over time as have the number and type of voters of the regions so one would expect the most recent elections to produce the most relevant predictive results. Regions were defined along voting precinct boundaries. Voting data was loaded into the program ESRI for analysis purposes which allows geographic clustering.
Multiple models were run giving different weights to the importance of issues assuming an “issue of the day” like immigration or economics. This is to create a view of what would happen if all of the sudden there was an economic collapse or illegal immigrants started killing in Richmond. These types of effects are always media driven, a politician who is right on a single issue may find that he or she wins simply because of an incident or crisis that arises at just the right time.
First Corey Stewart, Corey is the Chairman at large for Prince William County. This means he won an election across an entire purple county. This would be a big bonus except, Corey has embraced President Trump and his policies wholeheartedly. Is that a drawback? Certainly, it will be if he is to get any votes from anywhere from center right to the far left. Consider that is 60% of Virginia and a good 33% of people who identify as card carrying Republicans on a good day. The Trump name largely spells disaster for anyone running for statewide office in the state of Virginia. Moreover, pitting Stewart against Kaine for the Senate seat is just a do-over of the 2016 presidential election. Kaine can no longer run from any of the positions he campaigned for fervently as Vice President for Hillary Clinton, and Stewart has chosen to embrace the moniker of Trump and is running as a disciple of the same.
Stewart is not new to the Trump message. In 2007, when Stewart was relatively new to the Board in Prince William, he championed a law which required police to ask for identification from anyone who they thought might be an illegal immigrant. I personally remember the night it went into effect. Owners of rental houses were up in arms because their tenants disappeared overnight. In 2008, only 2.2 percent of persons arrested in Prince William were illegal immigrants. Stewart gained national notoriety during the implementation of this law, and has since tried on multiple occasions unsuccessfully to seek statewide office.
The big play inside the Republican primary is this, it is a not a Republican decision. Republicans have chosen to hold this year’s selection process for their Senate Candidate via state sponsored primary. Virginia does not allow voters to register by party, ergo you can vote in whichever primary you choose. This always brings a few ultra democrats over to the Republican side to help them pick their candidate. This is especially true in a year where Tim Kaine, an incumbent, and darling of the party will run unopposed. I will discuss later who is most likely to collect these votes and why. In the meantime, Stewart has a solid block of 33% of the Republicans who are committed Trump Supporters.
I think the first time I saw Bishop EW Jackson, was 2012. His speech was electrifying. He is after all a Harvard Educated Pastor. Harvard law as well, but as he said, “I didn’t drink the kool-aid.” He was also a Corporal in the Marines. Having become a Republican after being brought up by Democrats to be a Democrat, as well as, being African American, he is unique in this field and among a very few in the Republican Party in Virginia. His campaign has thusfar chosen to ignore the President, which is probably sound strategy from a state wide perspective but will have its consequences during a strictly Republican basis. Thus far in the race, his message has been soundly wrapped up in that of George W. Bush circa 2004 and Jim Gilmore during the 2016 Presidential Campaign, we need to do more for security in this country. This message clearly reaches many of the over 50 group and those with interest in reinforcing America’s defense apparatus, read this “spend a lot more money on the military”. The struggle there is that described many of the Trump supporters who were awarded above to Stewart based on his saying, “I love Trump” every chance he gets. Does Jackson take some of these voters from Stewart? Possibly, but a very small part. As we said above Stewart is not new or in any way untrue about his endorsement of the Trump Message. He has been pursuing it since before Trump was a Republican. Jackson nets 7% of the die hard Trump supporters based on his security focus and a combination of other things, being AA, Harvard Law, etc. Jackson runs a ministry to benefit inner city blacks. He is a Bishop and a Pastor. He tows the line on being pro-life and tough on crime, this helps him gather the 45 – 65 religious right, 25% of Republicans who vote on that day. With Jackson in the picture, so far 32% for Jackson and 26% for Stewart with another 42% of Republicans up for grabs.
Bring on the third candidate, Nick Freitas. Delegate Nick Freitas represents Madison County, the southern half of Culpepper County and Orange County (Where Bishop Jackson was raised). He served in the US Army and after September 11, 2001, volunteered for Special Forces. He left the service after two combat tours in Iraq and works as an Operations Director for a company local to his region. He is 39 years old and by his own words, “never turns down a chance to take the Republican message of Individual Liberty to younger groups.” He studied at Henley Putnam College.
The message of his campaign is to invite the Democrats to debate the principles and the laws they will create or rescind. At 39 years of age, Freitas is by far the youngest candidate in the group. Perhaps consequently, his campaigns use of new media has far outpaced the other two. His videos on Youtube have more than 500,000 views collectively. His message in one of ideology speaking to the libertarians inside the Republican party. He has at this point been endorsed by Rand Paul the Senator from Kentucky and the current reigning little ‘L’ libertarian inside the Republican party. This gets him roughly 33% of the Republican Vote. Freitas has chosen to ignore Trump articulating a Republican message of individual rights and responsibilities. His service in the military another 6%. He has made a strong push on the 2nd amendment and defending children in schools. This nets him 10%, some of which comes from the libertarians, and some of which comes from Stewart and Jac There is no competition for them to worry about, so cross the lines to mess with the other party they will. Not more than 6% of the total votes that day will be Democrats. 4% of them will be spoilers looking to help pick the worst candidate. 2% of them will be converts who have found something worth voting for on the other side. This brings the totals to: Freitas, 53%; Jackson, 29%; Stewart 18%.
Next complication: Get out the vote. GOTV is always a factor in every election. Both EW and Stewart are seasoned and have run statewide campaigns before. They have apparatuses in place and can mobilize people for elections. The only caveat to this is Freitas practiced counter insurgency in the military. The whole purpose of the Green Berets is to go into an area, mobilize the local population and turn them into an army. New Totals: Freitas, 50%; Jackson, 29%; Stewart, 20%.
Inside the Party correction: Who has access to the party leadership? The grassroots are made up of the people or so we’re told. What that really means is that there is a leadership group in each community who does things like organizes walks, phone banks etc. They also happen to be the ones in roles like District Chair or Chairman, leadership of Young Republicans, College Republicans, etc. These people play a critical role in organizing the local party members to work on your behalf. Above we said called that the “Get out the Vote” effort, but it’s a very accessible group of people whose names are public record. Every statewide candidate does well to get this group behind them as early as possible. Social media and bloggers are also a part of this group. They aren’t necessarily as easy to discover, many hiding behind pseudonyms so they can make brash observations and bold statements. Right now, there is not enough information to determine who has taken these steps, but the prevailing feeling among the blogosphere is that Freitas is the man to beat.
Conclusions: Freitas is young, has energy, and a positive message that may span party lines without betraying Republican ideology. The drawback for him is his youth, which is known to negatively impact Republican results. If the math is any judge currently, he should win handily in June.
EW Jackson is a great messenger with a solid Republican message. His historical performance statewide in 2012 and again in 2013 do not add confidence to his chances as he was unable to secure the Senate nomination in 2012 and in 2013 as the nominee for Lt. governor performed worse that the Republican Governor’s candidate but only by a hair (Cuccinelli got 45% while Jackson got 44%). In the primary, the coalition for which Jackson is the most appealing candidate is the Religious Right who makes up 27% of the vote. No other candidate is competing for this segment. This should give him second place overall.
Corey Stewart is the wild card because his base is committed. He chants Trump every chance he gets and while he has adopted the communication style and cloak of Trump, and perhaps eventually the endorsement, he has not shown the ability to deliver statewide in Virginia yet. He was briefly the campaign chair for Trump in Virginia before being fired. His previous run for the Senate nomination and the Governor nomination both failed. There is no reason why the math should be wrong here, however, politics is not an exact science. So here is the big projection: with a confidence of +/- 4% confidence – Freitas 50% (as high as 55%, as low as 36%), Jackson 27% (As high as 30% and as low as 22%), Stewart 23% (As high as 33% and as low as 19%).
The Inner Workings of the Republican Party of Virginia
The Virginia Republican Party consists of four actual parties inside the Big Tent, The chamber of commerce party, the patriot party, the libertarian Party, and the social conservatives party. First, note that these are not mutually exclusive. There is some interchange between them. This is the reason for the overall Tent; however, when internal Republican races occur there is as a distinct triangle created and people migrate to their corners. The best Republican candidates combine multiple issues to gather support from multiple corners of the triangle. The problem with the dual identity is that generally it breaks a political ideology. This only matters to true believers, but it does play a role and adjust the score slightly. If you consider that personal liberty and government power to act are at odds, for example, no amount of security from crime or foreign threat can make up for spying on e-mail, etc. On the other hand, there are natural crossovers. A good example is where the Patriot Party wants a super amazing military and the chamber of commerce wants to spend money on American Jobs and industry. A match made in heaven.
The Chamber Party does anything that’s good for business. Their focus is on economic issues without regard for much else. If you ask them about the people they will tell you that what is good for business is good for the people. They don’t give much consideration to the end games being played but lower taxes and less regulation sounds like an amazing solution to a slowing economy so why not.
The patriot party loves everything American. Especially when it comes to guns, bigger guns, faster planes and super high tech, take the bad guys down weapons. They believe in the Bill of Rights but aren’t sure about the remainder of the amendments. They are sorry for nothing and think people should snap to and salute because they are not living in some country where free comes with a bribe and work is a suggestion with 12 full weeks of vacation a year.
The small ‘l’ libertarians inside of the Republican Party are a close cousin to their big ‘L’ Libertarian Party counterparts who run a candidate for president and then plan rallies on the mall to “Legalize” is for the next four years. The connection is that both groups hold the ideology of individual liberty and individual responsibility as the bedrock of a political philosophy that guides their actions. Small ‘l’ believe in controlling government’s size and scope so people can be more free with reasonable limitations on freedom of action to permit commerce.