Thanks to the diseased carcass of the Byrd Machine, Virginia conducts state and local elections in an asynchronous cycle with federal elections. (Some particularly dense Democrats might call this an off-off-off year election). This leads to low turnout, low voter interest, personality driven, and party identification based elections. Add on top of this significantly gerrymandered Senate and House districts and what do we get?
A Senate divided 21R-19D where, despite retirements, is still 21R-19D in THE EXACT SAME DISTRICTS.
In a testament to some small measure of democracy, 23 of these districts had a challenger.
A House divided 67R-33D which changed a wopping three seats for a new split of 66R-34D.
In a testament to the laziness of both parties, 62 of the House seats had no challenger. If you take out all of the independents/third party candidates, 71 of the House seats had no major party challenger.
In 140 races for state office I can identify 0 surprises. No one can claim some amazing victory at the State level.
What did we learn:
- Outside money can not buy Senate seats.
No amount of Bloomberg anti-gun dollars could help Gecker beat Sturtevant. McPike defeated Parrish in a heavy D district. Neither outcome was likely shifted by the New York interloper’s dollars.
- Democrat statewide office holders are still as preferred as they were in 2013
The 2013 statewide elections were close. Democrats did not receive a mandate. McAuliffe, Herring, and Northam “barnstormed” the state to try to gain a Senate majority. The results of their campaign:
Edwards D – hold
Wagner R – hold
Sturtevant R – hold
McPike D – hold
Lewis D – hold
Black R – hold
It does not seem the ball was moved very much. Perhaps voters do not have any more love for our statewide Democratic officeholders than they did on November 5, 2013.
- The drawing of district lines via a partisan process creates farcical elections.
Dear friends, nothing says our system is rigged to protect a two party duopoly for the benefit of incumbents at the expense of the voters like the statistics from these statewide races. All incumbents without a challenger received over 90% of the vote. Without competitive districts we run the risk of legislators or parties feeling invulnerable, and therefore unresponsive to voter concerns.
There is just too much to say about local races in NoVa, so I found a tidbit from Campbell County. It appears John “Slater” Ferguson, the former Republican, lost his bid to be on the Campbell County Board of Supervisors (sigh of relief).
Center hit with your great opening line on the “diseased carcass of the Byrd Machine”. If you throw in party based statewide gerrymandering and the incumbent protection act to this toxic mix what you have is the spin cycle of Virginia state politics. The warning for the comfortable here is that this may look like control and management but nature and society has historically demonstrated it is NOT. Two equal forces, a driving force and a resisting or restraining force, work to keep the equilibrium or status quo. For change to happen the status quo, or equilibrium must be upset either by adding conditions favorable to the change or by reducing resisting forces, whenever driving forces are stronger than restraining forces, the status quo will reset. Over the past decade the restraining force in Virginia politics has been the Republicans while the driving forces have largely been with the Democrats. I would maintain that if you look at this whole complex process as a simple model and ask yourself where is the movement occurring that is breaking down the existing equilibrium and moving toward a new desired change state, it rests with the Democrats. The restraining forces either in the form of gerrymandering or incumbent reelection protections are failing. It’s not just that they are bad policies and undemocratic in nature but THEY AREN’T WORKING”! It’s time for a major reassessment on how to deal with these driving forces before they set in place a new desired Democratic derived state.