Both sides declare win, but neither really did
Post-election crowing by state parties masks that assembly is little changed
How is it possible for Republicans and Democrats to both declare victory in Virginia’s General Assembly elections when neither side wins? Welcome to Virginia’s postelection spin zone.
In the Senate, Republicans held on to the same slender 21-19 majority, in the very same seats, that they had before Election Day.
The Democrats’ net gain of one seat in the House of Delegates means Republicans actually lost their vetoproof majority, as their commanding numbers in the 100-member chamber dipped from 67 to 66. But you’d never know it. “With today’s election result, it is clear that Republicans in Virginia have all the momentum and this bodes extremely well for 2016 and beyond,” said Republican Party of Virginia Chairman John
Whitbeck in an election night email.
“The Republican Party of Virginia comeback in the commonwealth of Virginia is underway.”
Not to be outdone, Democrats acted like the election was a game of horseshoes, in which you get points for being close.
“We came within 1,500 votes of picking up a VA Senate seat that been under Republican control for 30 years,” wrote Brian Zuzenak, head of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Common Good Virginia PAC, in an internal memo to McAuliffe and top legislative leaders.
Democrats failed to win that seat — in suburban Richmond’s 10th District — despite big-dollar investments. That meant that the party was unable to take control of the Senate, the governor’s goal heading into the last two years of his term.
“In 2015, Democrats again bucked the national trend as both a Southern state and a presidential battleground state,” the memo continued, boasting that the party can now uphold a governor’s veto in both chambers because of “Democratic gains” in the House.
Those “gains” amounted to the net pickup of one seat in the 100-member chamber.
Democrats picked up seats held by two retiring Republicans — Dels. Thomas Davis Rust, R-Fairfax, and David I. Ramadan, R-Loudoun. Republicans picked up the seat of Del. Michael Futrell, DPrince William, who is leaving the legislature after he unsuccessfully sought a Democratic nomination for the state Senate.
The memo even found a silver lining in the loss of a fellow Democrat in the governor’s race in Kentucky, noting that McAuliffe is now the “ONLY Democratic governor in a Southern state.”
Perhaps all the spinning proves is that the more things change in politics, the more they stay the same — even in elections that change nothing.
Not surprisingly, each party claims it is now even better positioned to win in 2016.
Did you expect anything less?