TREND­ING FOR OFF-OFF YEAR?

Daily Press - - Front Page - Dave Ress, 757-247-4535, dress@dai­ly­press.com

The Shad Plank is back, and this week, Dave Ress takes a look at whether Tues­day’s elec­tion results could por­tend a shift in 2019, when state Se­nate and House of Del­e­gates are up for grabs.

You’ve got to be care­ful not to read too much from a fed­eral elec­tion, like Tues­day’s midterm, into fore­casts for state leg­isla­tive results. The dif­fer­ence in turnout be­tween a fed­eral off-year elec­tion and a state off-off-year (like in 2019, when only the state Se­nate and House of Del­e­gates are up for elec­tion, but with no statewide races) can be huge: On Tues­day, 59 per­cent of vot­ers cast bal­lots. In the last off-offyear leg­isla­tive elec­tions, turnout was 29 per­cent. Tra­di­tion­ally, lower turnout elec­tions trend Re­pub­li­can.

But it’s a good bet plenty of Vir­ginia Democrats are think­ing Sen. Tim Kaine’s 15.9 per­cent­age point stomp­ing of GOP can­di­date Corey Ste­wart, and a flip of three House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives dis­tricts from R to D, could be a fore­shad­ow­ing of big changes in our Gen­eral Assem­bly af­ter the 2019 elec­tion.

Thanks to the num­ber-crunch­ers at the Vir­ginia Pub­lic Ac­cess Project, who have sliced and diced Tues­day’s elec­tion results by state Se­nate and House of Del­e­gates dis­trict, we can know that Re­pub­li­can Se­nate stal­warts Frank Wag­ner and Bill DeSteph, both from Vir­ginia Beach, rep­re­sent dis­tricts that went 55.6 per­cent and 51.3 per­cent, re­spec­tively, for Kaine.

In the Rich­mond sub­urbs, vot­ers in the dis­tricts rep­re­sented by GOP first term Sens. Glenn Sturte­vant and Siob­han Dun­na­vant went for Kaine by 60.4 per­cent and 56.5 per­cent, re­spec­tively.

Up in North­ern Vir­ginia, some 58.5 per­cent of vot­ers in Sen.

Dick Black’s dis­trict voted for Kaine; in Sen Bryce Reeves’ dis­trict, 52.2 per­cent did.

It’d only take one of these dis­tricts to flip to give Democrats (thanks to Lt. Gov. Justin Fair­fax’s tie-break­ing vote) con­trol of the state Se­nate.

And in the House, cur­rently split 51-49 be­tween Rs and Ds?

Here’s Kaine’s vote share in dis­tricts rep­re­sented by:

Del. David Yancey, R-Newport News, 58.5 per­cent

Del Tim Hugo, R-Fair­fax, 58.1 per­cent

Del. Bob Thomas, R-Fred­er­icks­burg, 54.9 per­cent

Del. Robert Bloxom, R-Ac­co­mac, 54.4 per­cent

Del. Rox­anne Robin­son, RCh­ester­field, 54.1 per­cent

Del. Glenn Davis, R-Vir­ginia Beach, 52.9 per­cent

Del. Ri­ley In­gram, R-Hopewell, 52.6 per­cent (he’s chair of the Coun­ties, Cities and Towns Com­mit­tee, and a heavy hit­ter on the Ap­pro­pri­a­tions, Rules and Priv­i­leges and Elec­tions com­mit­tees

Del. Chris Stolle, R-Vir­ginia Beach, 52.1 per­cent

Del Chris Jones, R-Suf­folk, 51.1 per­cent (as chair of the Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee, he is one of the most im­por­tant lead­ers in the House)

Kaine won Del. Gor­don Helsel’s Po­qu­o­son and Hamp­ton dis­trict by 49.7 per­cent to 48 per­cent for Ste­wart and had a 49.7 per­cent to 48.4 per­cent win in Del. Bobby Or­rock’s Spot­syl­va­nia and Car­o­line coun­ties dis­trict.

No Demo­cratic state sen­a­tor or del­e­gate rep­re­sents a dis­trict that voted for Ste­wart.

You can see the VPAP data here:

vpap.org/vi­su­als/vis­ual/2018us-se­nate-results-state-sen­ate­dis­trict/

2nd dis­trict turnout

Did it seem as if the big story, both be­fore and af­ter Tues­day, was turnout — as in, how big it was?

But there might well be a Hamp­ton Roads twist on this na­tion­wide story.

Statewide, turnout soared to 59 per­cent (up from 42 per­cent in the last midterm fed­eral elec­tion). But in the hard-fought 2nd Con­gres­sional dis­trict race, turnout was a bit be­low this, at 56 per­cent.

That trans­lated to a roughly 57,000-vote drop in Rep. Scott Tay­lor’s to­tal vote from what he won in 2016 — yes, that was a pres­i­den­tial year, when we see the big­gest turnout.

But the point is that the drop in Tay­lor’s vote was far steeper than the slide of roughly 37,000 in to­tal votes cast in the 2nd dis­trict in 2018 com­pared to 2016.

The dif­fer­ence? Elaine Luria, who was elected as the dis­trict’s next mem­ber of Congress, re­ceived 20,000 more votes than did the 2016 Demo­cratic can­di­date, Shaun Brown.

That sharp dip in Tay­lor’s vote to­tal, steeper than the de­cline in the to­tal votes cast in the dis­trict, is what tells the tale, says Quentin Kidd, direc­tor of Christo­pher Newport Univer­sity’s Wa­son Cen­ter for Pub­lic Pol­icy.

In other words, plenty of GOPin­clined vot­ers stayed home while Democrats flocked to the polls.

“I think it was the sig­na­ture scan­dal, it was Re­pub­li­can vot­ers who de­cided they couldn’t sup­port him be­cause of the sig­na­ture scan­dal and had no other rea­son to go and vote ... if you didn’t want to come out be­cause of the sig­na­tures and they didn’t want to come out be­cause of Corey Ste­wart, you’d just stay home.”

Kidd thinks those fac­tors, maybe more than vot­ers’ feel­ings about Pres­i­dent Donald Trump, swung the dis­trict.

An ag­gres­sive ad cam­paign in the fi­nal two weeks of the cam­paign re­fo­cused at­ten­tion on the Tay­lor staff who are un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for al­leged elec­tion fraud with their ef­forts to get Brown on the bal­lot as an in­de­pen­dent, he said. The aim of such an odd ef­fort by one cam­paign to get an­other can­di­date on the bal­lot, at a guess looked to be an ef­fort to split the Demo­cratic vote.

“Luria ran a dis­ci­plined cam­paign ... she only men­tioned Donald Trump once, and she did it in re­sponse to a ques­tion from Joel Ru­bin mod­er­at­ing a de­bate when he asked her why she wasn’t talk­ing about Trump,” Kidd said. “She wanted the race to be about her, and about health care and not about Trump.”

The race in the 2nd, ar­gues Stephen Farnsworth, po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist at the Univer­sity of

Mary Wash­ing­ton, sug­gests Re­pub­li­can ac­tivists still haven’t re­al­ized how much Vir­ginia has changed in the past two decades — specif­i­cally, how im­por­tant sub­ur­ban vot­ers are now.

Corey Ste­wart’s ag­gres­sive na­tivist cam­paign turned sub­ur­ban vot­ers off — and wasn’t aimed at them, he said.

“A strat­egy based on older vot­ers, a strat­egy based on white vot­ers and a strat­egy based on ru­ral vot­ers is strike 1, 2 and 3 when you think about the Vir­ginia of the fu­ture,” Farnsworth said.

“The party is re­ally in trou­ble with sub­ur­ban vot­ers,” Farnsworth said. “The bot­tom line is the Re­pub­li­can Party re­ally has to re­tool it­self.”

Shad’s run­ning!

Well, the shad (or at least the Shad Planks) are run­ning again. The blog and this col­umn took an un­planned-for and very much un­wanted break be­gin­ning in Au­gust when I had a heart at­tack on my way to cover a story. Luck­ily, an in­cred­i­ble team of Mid­dle­sex County EMTs got to me faster than any rea­son­able per­son could ex­pect. Luck­ily, too, the good Vir­gini­ans I’ve come to know in a quar­ter cen­tury of de­light­ing in the Old Do­min­ion’s po­lit­i­cal foibles took time to of­fer their sup­port as I’ve re­cov­ered. Their words, their thoughts, their prayers got me back on my feet. And I’ve learned I live in a place with a big heart.

Dave Ress Shad Plank

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