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Ghost of Ted Dalton


Good analysis, but I want to ask you a question.

Could a better candidate have given Watkins a run for his money?

That seems to also be a huge mistake this cycle. Running a sure loser in the district, the D label received 43% of the vote. I have to wonder if the right candidate could have made a serious run. Why wasn't there an attempt to recruit a better candidate for that seat? It seems to me a well-funded D with Powhatan ties could have done well.

Steve Vaughan

I don't really disagree with your analysis of the new districts, but I'm not sure how Dems could have done much better given that they had to get their map past McDonnell.
I'd say the real epic failure from the Demo leadership came in terms of candidate recruitment in both houses.
They failed to put ANY Republican incumbent in real danger of defeat in either house.
The best defense is a good offense.
The Democrats had no offense, allowing money the GOP might otherwise have had to spend on defending incumbents to be spent on challenger races.
Given the way they let the election be structured, it's practically a miracle that the Dems were able to get out of it at 20-20 in the Senate. I was predicting a 21-19 GOP takeover and a lot of people thought it would be worse.
The Dems, through failure of the leadership, left themselves no margin for error.
That they still came within 222 votes of pulling it off, is amazing.


Always interesting to read the analysis.

Of course, another big question remains: what will Fairfax County look like in 10 years?

After all, people like me didn't live here 10 years ago (I was in Prince William) and look at all of the trouble I'm capable of causing! :)

Arl Dem

There are times when you accept that the wind is not at your back. Mary Margaret Whipple got up at an ACDC meeting and called out all of us who opposed the redistricting proposal, saying "Nothing is more important than keeping our majority. NOTHING."

Well, she was wrong. What is more important is not creating a map that hamstrings us for a decade. No one benefited from this Senate map. And the House map makes delegate service untenable for Dems. What is more important is creating competitive districts in as many places as possible so that we can build organizations, recruit candidates and move our agenda forward.

Captain Spaulding

Marsden and Barker would have received strong challenges that would have required huge expenditures to win in their old districts. Without configuring their districts to include more Democrats, they would have likely lost and then we are at 20-20 even if Reynolds and Houck won. Those races were not lost because Barker and Marsden had to run competitive campaigns that required money.

Not a Dem

Thanks, Ben. In answer to Gretchen's "what will Fairfax County look like in 10 years?" it will look more blue, partly from demographics and partly from gerrymandering. I hope not to be here then, as NoVa now has boxed its GA representation into long-term minority-party status, so even less hope to fix our congestion crisis. The rest of the Commonwealth thinks we're nuts, and I agree.


Ben-good analysis but I dont think its as bad as you think. G of TD had a good point and it will be even more true when Watkins retires.

There are also two other things that could help significantly. First is candidate recruitment-if we can recruit candidates against more of the republican incumbents it at least-like you pointed out earlier-keeps some of those dollars tied down there. Secondly-and I've thought this for years-DPVA needs to put major effort into driving turnout amongst African Americans in rural areas. This could make districts like Stanley's and perhaps Ruff much closer and once again force them to keep more of their own money.

Lastly, it sounds like Favola is probably safer going forward than you indicate. She won by 15% (or more) in an open seat. Admittedly I dont live in NOVA and dont know that area that well but Caren Merrick seemed like a pretty top tier challenger. I think theres a real chance of a D recovery in the senate in 15-but ONLY IF candidate recruitment dramatically improves


Ben, a couple of observations.

One, Favola crushed Merrick. Was it because of the extra money? For sure. Could we have spent a lot less and she would have still won? Most definitely. But, one of the reasons so much money was poured in was because guys in Arlington like you, Lowell, Miles and the rest were screaming murder all summer and fall about how bad Favola was, and how crazy it was to stretch the district out like that. In the end, Favola won in a cakewalk. The fear and doubt, I believe, were seeded by some of you guys, and blown way, way out of proportion.

Two, Toddy and Marsden didn't just slip by, the won by ~10 points. Those are very solid victory numbers. Was it just because of the money and GOTV? Perhaps, but again, hindsight is 20/20.

Third, you're assuming that as the population continues to swell in NoVA, at rates far above the rest of the state, that things will remain as is over the next decade. That will not be the case. Take a look at the population and demographic changes in Fairfax the last 10 years. Even the reddest areas of Fairfax - Great Falls, Clifton, basically areas in Springfield, Sully and Drainesville districts - are voting much more Democratic than they were 10 years ago.

I think that will start to bleed over into Prince William and Loudoun as well. While I agree that Puckett's district will be the next to flip, I also think that the 13th, especially after four years of Dick Black idiocy, will flip to Dems.

As far as downstate, some of the districts performed much better than I anticipated. Edwards and Northam won with big margins. Just as none of us would have imagined the 5th CD flipping Democratic, it did, so there's no reason why Edd Houck's district couldn't be flipped back, especially with the heavy growth already underway in the northern portion of that district.


Captain Spaulding has the only good comment here regarding the immediate impact of the map.

Ben's analysis is poor, first and foremost for the reason Spaulding states. Houck and Reynolds didn't lose because of the NoVA map.

Second, yes protecting the incumbents we have was always the path to preserving the majority. No one redistricts looking 2 or 3 cycles ahead unless there are predictable deomgraphic changes, and those changes largely favor us anyway in the urban crescent.

Third, and very importantly, Ben pretends a lot of these Democratic holds were closely fought, and while that may have been the impression some people had, the results prove otherwise.

Case in point: Favola. She won a 58-42 BLOWOUT in spite of Arlington constituing just 47% of the vote, a whopping 11 points below census. I did the math just yesterday and found that Arlington could've dropped to as low as 37% of the vote in the district, and Favola still would've won.

Further, Ben himself as well as many others routinely slammed Favola for many reasons, none of which can be argued with to my knowledge, and yet she won all the strong Democratic precincts in Fairfax and held down her margins of defeat in the others. Ben says Danner helped her, but in fact Danner, who I helped as much as I could in the race I made my personal priority, performed only the same as Favola in Fairfax, not any better.

Favola's seat was never really "tightly contested."

In all the other NoVA races on the radar, redistricting SAVED the seats, it didn't cost us money.


I'm with JohnSMosby here. Ben's analysis is short-sighted at best. rather than fighting the tough fights in 2018, we fought the tough fights in 2011 and time should take care of the rest.

Not Benny

The Colgans refusing to create a contrast with their opponent allowed Gordy to make the race somewhat close. It's a real lesson to Dems that they need to wake up and get tough and quit complaining about negative campaigns. They should've put Gordy to bed weeks ago.

Extremely high Democratic turnout in East PWC thanks to redistricting saved that seat.


Seeing as Chuck is 50% responsible for the abortion restrictions, I know a few Dems out there who sat out the election because of that. They couldn't vote for Chuck, although they certainly weren't going to vote for Gordy. So, Chuck actually suppresses some Dem turnout, and that partially offsets any "the only Dem I would vote for is Chuck" conservatives in that district, who we expect to lose when Chuck retires.


More fact-checking: Barker won even without the Alexandria precincts by 162 votes.

And he did better in Prince William than in he did in '07.


Also after the 03 elections how many people saw the dems retaking the senate in 07?


NLS talks as if Frederick was close to winning against Puller when he almost lost to Puller in PW County. Frederick lost in PWC districts that he had won in 2007 and this time other R’s were able to win or gain more votes than he did. Frederick lost in Dumfries, Graham Park, Quantico, Belmont and River Oaks. These are all areas that he won easily in 2007. These losses occurred in precincts that he bragged he had won before and could win again. He fell short and even lost in Belmont, his previous residence, where Republican Dudenhefer had 104 more votes than Frederick had. NLS’s analysis is false if he truly thinks the Republicans would use him in a rematch.


Good analysis Ben and good comments by many on here. Who knows what the future holds?

The bottom line for right now is that House leadership effectively managed the redistricting process (gained seats), and Senate leadership didn't (lost seats). Senators were too worried about saving their own skin and not worried enough about growing their majority. Granted, it's harder to protect incumbents and grow a majority when dealing with 40 seats instead of a 100, but it still doesn't change where the priorities for Senate leadership were.


Favola has some fence mending to do in Fairfax County. She won because of the gerrymandered district that put parts of Fairfax and Loudoun with people in Arlington with little commonality of interest. She owes Janet Howell big time. Her campaign emphasized many issues that a lot of people in Fairfax simply don't care about -- the Amazon rain forest.
She would be wise to follow Sharon Bulova's lead. Bulova did not win Dranesville in the special election. But she spent considerable time working on issues of concern to people in McLean, Great Falls and Vienna. Couple that with her general fiscal conservativeness on county budgets, and Bulova did very well in Dranesville this week. Favola should do the same and also stay away from social issues. Danner proved that approach was a big loser.

It's Happened Before

This may be Marsden's last chance to get something for switching .... just saying.


Although I am a conservative, I still believe that “divided” government serves best.

I would not discount the “elections have consequences” “curse” that BOTH parties seem to catch when it works to their benefit but forget when the tide turns.

If the R’s push too far, and forget the “middle”, things will change quickly; just as when the D’s abused their “total” power across the river and got slapped back in ‘10.

The only way the R’s will hold power is a fair approach to governing, the first “smart” step would be to give some appearance of power sharing in a “tied” senate (which voters would see as “fair”).
If R’s get too arrogant, and try to push thru too many partisan issues their hold on power will be first tested in the next governor’s race.

If I were seeking higher office in VA (like Bolling or Cuccinelli), I would suggest that the new majority (and current administration) not push too far.

Obama looks to be a one term president and we all know how that has historically affected Va politics.


I'm only half way through, but I wanted to take a break and comment that this is the smartest thing you've written in a while.


Ben, I realize that the vote numbers are skewed because of parties not fielding candidates, although you might think that would also lower turnout for the incumbent.

But if you just look at the total vote counts for the senate seats, I'd say the Democrats did a fantastic job with their gerrymander.

Democrats got 40% of the votes, to 56% for republicans, and 4% for independents. That's 16 seats to 23, but they actually got 20 seats for their 40%, while republicans only got 20 sets for their 56%.

When your last two statewide election counts had republicans beating democrats in turnout by 16 points or more, and they beat dems by 16 points in this election, holding half the seats is a good night.

Frankly, I was just happy because this time around, the republicans didn't lose any really close ones. I hate losing by 50 votes.

Pulling defeat from the jaws of victory

Maybe the problem began when the Senate Dems outsourced the redistricting process to the National Committee for an Effective Congress. That's something you don't hear about much.

Ghost of RWR

Look, this analysis notwithstanding, things are as they appear to be.

Obama was a huge drag on all of the Democrat races. You can slice and dice this anyway you want to, (and I don’t disagree that the GOP starts with 20 in 2015) but this election was “nationalized” because of the state of the economy and the actions of the Obama administration on any number of topics from coal, to healthcare, to Obama’s rank arrogance that is offensive to many and motivated the Republican base.

Want more proof? The two Democrat Senators who lost were by no means liberal. They were moderate to conservative. Yet their districts turned them out.

Things are what they appear to be.

Not This Again

Please extend my thanks to Mr. Lincoln.


Ghost meant to say "Democratic." I apologize for him.


Rob Lederer for State Seante? Dear god, I'd almost want Chap to stay! But let's talk about Chap's district . . . the obvious Dem candidate would be David Bulova. Could he really spend what could be close to ten years in the House of Delegates and not be able to win?

just the facts

Ghost is wrong... If Obama was such a huge drag, Miller and Northam would have been gone in Hampton Roads and we wouldnt have seen every Democratic Senator in Nova win by 7 points or more with robust Democratic turnout. Was Obama a drag in Southside & Central VA? Sure, but one region does not make for a statewide phenomenon.

As for the future a) Watkins is beatable, having given up 43% to a noname underfunded challenger; b) after housecleaning of the LCDC and 4 years of Dick Black and 1 party rule in Loudoun, I think Loudoun voters will be looking for some political balance putting the 13th SD in play; c) Finally Edd Houck could rechallenge for his district in four years.... The map is not easy but I see a path back to Democratic leadership.

Finally to the Danner bashers, I point you to a couple of facts -- which are stubborn things. First of all Danner was the only Dem challenger in the GA races who came within 10 points of their opponent. Second of all a careful inspection of www.Comstockvotes.com and Danner's website demonstrate that Danner was critiquing Comstock's voting record across the board (attacking her on lack of support for education funding, opposition to consumer protections and traffic safety and anti civil rights stances). These are not social issues, but rather issues of considerable importance to many Northern Virginians. And by the way, Danner outperformed Favola by at least a percentage point in a number of the overlapping precincts, particularly in Loudoun.



Was Obama a drag on Favola, Marsden, Barker, Puller, Northam and Edwards, who all won by far higher percentages than even the most optimistic internal polls and pundits analysis anticipated?

How did Houck and Reynolds do in their districts compared to McDonnell in 2009 or Obama in 2008?

Simply put, if a few hundred more Dems had come out in a 200,000 person district, everyone would be singing praises or curses at Barker and team for their gerrymandering.


I think the point they are making is that if Obama and company had not turned out so many R's, the D's would have had a cake walk back to power.

just the facts

I second what NotJohnSMosby said!


The idea that the 31st senate district is in play is simply moronic.
57% of the district is made up of Arlington County which will give no GOP candidate much more than 30% of the vote.
Democrats could have spent $5,000 dollars on this race and still won.

Not Dick Saslaw

It's Happened Before - I don't see that happening, but it did make me laugh.

It's Happened Before

Not Dick Saslaw - I am sure Ken Cuccinelli and others would be most generous to someone who sent Bolling back where he belongs - to the realm of inconsequence.


Reynolds could have used that $200.000 that Saslaw & Co. gave to "independent" Brandon Bell which helped Bell get 43% of the vote.

The "Golden Duh Award" goes to the former majority leader!

Not Bubby

Please don't confuse NJSM with the fact that more than a few Democrats ran as far away from Obama as possible.

Denial...it's not just a big river on Obama's home continent.


just the facts Your argument on Danner wins the Fred Hiatt Award for Foolishness. Fairfax County gets screwed by the LCI that allocates state money for education. We send dollars to Richmond and get pennies back. The formula ignores the differences in cost of living. If state aid to education increases, we will pay a lot more than we get and then need to pay even more in local real estate taxes to make up the difference. How does that help anyone here?
When Mark Warner got his tax increase, it cost Fairfax County taxpayers more than $107 million the first year. And the next year, 49 cities and counties cut their local support for public schools. Fairfax County got barely more than $7 million in new state aid for schools. We were screwed over. It's stupid not to protect your own interests in Richmond.
If Fairfax County's liberals had a clue and wouldn't have worshiped Warner, Chap Petersen's and Steve Shannon's efforts to stop passage of the tax increases until the education money was passed out on a per capita basis might have prevailed.
Thinking people, Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike, look at both sides of the ledger. What do we pay and what do we get? Danner knew better, but chose to take the emotional road on her campaign. It failed.


NJSM and Just the facts-Miller and Northam won because they were Miller and Northam. I dont think OBama helped or significantly hurt. Agree on Watkins-a high caliber, well funded challenger could give him a run for his money, especially in a year that doesnt have such an anti-D environment. Remember though that he would be running a lot harder and more money would be spent there so its still an uphill battle but certainly possible.

I imagine Houck and Reynolds outperformed both Deeds and Obama in their respective districts. Dont know why Houck would contest his seat again as he'd lose his seniority. LG-theres a possibility and I think Houck would be a good LG, and a good Governor

Ghost of Ted Dalton

I'm sorry, but anyone who thinks that the 17th could flip back is incorrect.

Houck did so well because he had relationships with a lot of ag families for decades. The Farm Bureau and a lot of the ag community is the only way he kept that race close. A lot of those folks were out in the rural counties actively campaigning for Houck. Take any other Dem from F'burg or Spotsy....they'll get creamed in Orange, Culpeper and Louisa.
If this election didn't prove it, I don't know what will....write off rural Virginia. I hate to say it as a resident of rural Virginia (as an Independent, I think every election should offer a choice), but it's simply not an area that Dems can win any longer. Puckett's really the last Dem with a rural district in the Senate (Deeds has C'ville and Edwards has Roanoke to bail them out).

The party is an urban and suburban party at this point. There's no need to be throwing money at unwinnable races. Rural, white Virginians have taken the flavor of other rural white voters in the South....most won't even consider a Dem, no matter how conservative (Roscoe Reynolds met the same fate of Gene Taylor in Mississippi....a guy who was completely in synch with his district and got beat b/c of the scarlett D by his name). The Dems should be looking at Chesterfield and Henrico as their next areas of takeover...the demographics are quickly changing to their advantage.

This is cold, hard political analysis, not the cheerleading nonsense that DPVA or RPV idiots spout.


GTD, What I know of polital analysis could be put on the head of a needle - and still have room for the Our Father. Your post, however, resonates with me from a common-sense standpoint. Don't get me wrong. In my heart, I think Dems should see that every election is contested. I also believe that all - well, most - politics is local. Dems just haven't crafted a platform - and messaged it well - that will appeal to most rural voters. While I hate to say we should abandon the rural part of Virginia, do we really want to overturn our lifeboat by trying to "save" people who don't want to be saved?

Glen Tomkins

I don't think this analysis makes much sense.

You think that it was the NoVA SDs that were the most poorly designed, left the incumbent Ds too vulnerable. You say that the downstate districts were better crafted. Yet the Ds held all their NoVA seats, and all by comfortable margins, and lost two of these supposedly well-designed downstate seats. This makes sense?

To rescue your position on redistricting, which you were stuck with from before we knew how the election would turn out, you bring in this Rube Goldberg, mirror effect, idea that it was precisely because the NoVA seats were vulnerable, that the Ds had to spend so much money on them, that the downstate seats were cash-starved, therefore, despite being better designed, that's where we lost two seats.

No doubt candidates in NoVA have a somewhat easier time raising money, and it would be nice if we had some systematic way of equalizing the donation flow. But the bottom line is that candidates are always going to hold onto arguably more than they need when the time comes to decide how much to pass on to candidates in less fortunate circumstances, and there was no way the NoVA districts were going to be so invulnerable that those candidates were ever going to feel completely secure. That's especially true because our state races are held off-year, therefore turnout is low, therefore turnout is unpredictable, therefore no one is ever going to feel very secure.

You say the NoVA districts were shaky, while downstate were more solid, and I say fine, you've studied it more clo9sely than I have and I take your word for it. But either stick with that pre-election impression of yours, and follow the logic to the conclusion that NoVA and downstate diverged sharply in two diffeent directions from pre-election expectations, or change your impression and admit that, actually, the NoVA districts were better designed. The one thing you shouldn't do is bring in some way overbloated idea of the impact of tons of campaign money. Sure, having no money at all when your opponent has a lot can make a big difference, but once you get past a certain point of expenditures, you are well into diminishing returns.

I don't claim to know why NoVA and downstate diverged this year, why ne area did better for us compared to their performances in previous years. But there are plenty of explanations that make more sense to me than some second-order campaign cash effect. Top of my list is the idea that Obama Derangement Syndrome has deeper roots downstate.

Not Larry Sabato

Glen- let me make this more simple for you. The downstate districts were better designed, but there are FEWER Democrats to put in even when they are well designed because there are fewer Democrats that live there. So the seats there were drawn to maximize our chances, not to make them locks.


I do not think that candidates should be able to take money donated to THEM, and give it to other candidates.

Frankly, we need to change the Constitution so that only those VOTERS who are eligible to vote for a candidate can contribute to that candidate.


GTD, what you wrote is largely true. The salve for Dems is that the rural white population is rapidly decreasing in relation to urban and suburban growth. That doesn't help Dems in the short run, but looking into the future, for Republicans, the inevitable changes in demographics and areas of population growth will be devastating.

Simply put, old, white, rural voters are being replaced at a greater than 1:1 ratio by minorities, and those minorities are in urban and suburban areas. Every 10 years, a few more HoD seats and a Senate seat will move to more friendlier climates for Dems. Seats that seem like safe Republican areas today will be in play or already lost 10 years or so down the road. Look at areas in Fairfax like Burke or Centreville, which used to be solidly Republican and are now either Democratic or fairly evenly split. A percent or two movement every election cycle is like a glacier moving, but given enough time, the change will happen.

I don't see any real areas of Republican growth. They've taken over areas that had legacy Democrats left over from the 80s or early 90s, when it was still a default to vote Democratic in a lot of rural areas just due to inertia. Those places are mostly gone now, except for Pucket. Republicans are at a maximum right now. It's a nice place to be, but they're living on borrowed time.


I've been doing campaigning for some of these candidates all year, and not once in casual conversation with voters did Obama's name ever come up. It was all local issues, at least with the people to whom I was talking.

just the facts

Not Bubby, you are a birther and a racist if you actually still believe Obama was born in Africa....


Gretchen-in NOVA it probably wasnt. In SE VA it was to some extent. In a lot of rural areas it was probably huge.

GTD-I agree that dems are at a distinct disadavantage with white rural population but I dont think its as bad as you think. Everybody said the same thing after 2000 and then Warner really worked the rural areas and did well there. I dont think they'll do well next year but after that who knows. Even a year is a long time in politics and many things can happen in an election cycle. How many people at this time in 2003 thought that Allen would be defeated three years later, and then that the dems would take back the state senate? My guess is not many.

just the facts

Actually there are some discussions after the fact that Saslaw wanted to give Houck some of Charlottesville, but that Creigh objected. Creigh won with 64% of the vote in his race, so if true, Creigh bears some responsibility here for not being willing to give up a couple of percent in order to hold the Senate.

And TMT Fairfax. The roll call vote shows Comstock supported a $620 million cut in statewide education funding. Danner called Comstock on this and regardless of the LCI issues when jurisdictions are pocketing the money and lowering taxes in other parts of the state while Fairfax needed the $$$ to provide quality education to all its students that IS a cut -- no matter how you slice it.


JTF - You just don't understand how Virginia taxes and finance work, most especially in the area of public schools. The biggest revenue stream for the Commonwealth is the personal income tax. Using data from the State, for tax year 2008 (latest available), Fairfax County residents paid 22.90% of all personal income tax in Virginia. For fiscal 2010 (latest date available), Fairfax County received 8% of all state aid to K-12 education.
This all means we probably would have paid around $142 million of the $620 million in school aid had it been included in the budget. We would have received about $49.6 million in return. How is this in Fairfax County's best interests? How much in higher real estate taxes would Fairfax County residents and businesses need to pay to raise the same $49.6 million? $49.6 million. Which is the best way for Fairfax residents to provide $49,6 million to FCPS?
We get screwed by the LCI. So why would anyone want to put more money into the state kitty to get less in return? Do you understand? I know Sharon Bulova and John Foust do. It's too bad so many other Democrats don't.


TMT, I've said quite a few times that if the state wants to cut funding to schools, so be it. Fairfax gets 20% of it's budget from the state. A lot of rural counties - which vote 75% Republican every time - get 80% of their money from the state. A 20% cut in state funding adds up to a 4% cut in current budget for Fairfax. The same cut is 16% in current budgets in "real Virginia".

Let them bear the brunt of either higher local property taxes to pay for schools, or drastic cuts in school budgets. Or do the right thing for the state as a whole, and make sure that basic services are fully funded by the new Republican overlords.


There are several more issues that are relevant here. First, is the constitutional obligation to ensure that all students get a reasonable education. A state must ensure that truly poor areas can operate their public schools, which often requires state aid to education (K-12). That's why Virginia uses the Standards of Quality to help guide funding. I think most people in Virginia would agree this is fair. All of us would likely agree that some income tax money ought to go to Petersburg for its public schools.
However, the LCI does not require a minimum local tax effort. Everyone should pay some level of real estate taxes to support public schools.
The LCI also measures the value of real estate and gross income. This makes some sense, but is not fairly administered. Because of differences in cost of living, $100,000 will buy a lot of house in some areas of Virginia, but very little in other areas. Ditto for wages. But these differences are not included in the LCI.
The courts are not going to rule that states don't have to provide funding for truly poor areas and the LCI is not going to change for the foreseeable future.
Therefore, it is absolutely stupid for anyone in Fairfax County to want more state aid for education. We will fund around 20-23% of the costs and get about 8% in return. Arguing that the state should fund more basic services is like cutting your own throat. Why is this a good thing?

This is not Republican or Democratic. One of the jurisdictions that cut local support for public schools after the Mark Warner tax increase was Charlottesville. That is is pretty strong Democratic voting area. This is a question of taking the time to understand how things work and then supporting fairness for Fairfax County residents. Pamela either didn't understand or was playing to the many ignorant voters in Fairfax County who don't bother to learn how things work. Wasn't one of Janie Strauss' best arguments for reelection that she knows how things work?
Every senator and delegate from Fairfax County should vote no on any bill that would send more of our dollars south for pennies in return.


Yep. In a hard Dillon Rule state like Virginia, where there is no home rule, it is completely acceptable if the state legislature set revenue minimums that each county/city must make towards education. If you look at education funding as revenue sharing, you need stipulations that put a floor on what jurisdictions can spend. Otherwise, you have a situation where localities view money from Richmond as free money, since they get 2 or 3 dollars back for every dollar they put in. Instead of improving their school systems, the cut their local taxes since the schools are nearly "free" - 80% so, in a lot of cases.

I'm not saying that every county and city in the commonwealth could or should spend what Fairfax does. Fairfax is special largely because we do spend lots of money on our schools. We choose to invest that money, since it keeps home values high and drives the economic engine in NoVA. But, that doesn't mean that a downstate system should be a total skinflint when it comes to paying for their kids' education.

Glen Tomkins


I still don't get your point. How can you blame our side's losing the Senate on bad redistricting?

If your point is that there are too few Ds anywhere near where Houck lives that they could have given him a district he could win in, then good or bad district design downstate is pretty irrelevant. I mean, unless we can get away with giving Houck's district some Arlington or Reston voters.

And where you claim that the design was soo poor, in NoVA, we have all of our incumbents winning, but not by large margins. Isn't that good, maximization, design? The powerful incumbents, including Barker, who drew the lines, had enough discipline to hold back from giving themselves impregnable seats. Instead, they shared the wealth, and everyone won by about 5-10%. It looked dicey for a few of those 5% folks for a while there, but in the end, they were able to pull through.

Decide what you're going to blame, poor district design, or the fact that there aren't enough solid Ds downstate to get us a sure majority every year, no matter how well the districts are drawn.

Glen Tomkins


I still don't get your point. How can you blame our side's losing the Senate on bad redistricting?

If your point is that there are too few Ds anywhere near where Houck lives that they could have given him a district he could win in, then good or bad district design downstate is pretty irrelevant. I mean, unless we can get away with giving Houck's district some Arlington or Reston voters.

And where you claim that the design was soo poor, in NoVA, we have all of our incumbents winning, but not by large margins. Isn't that good, maximization, design? The powerful incumbents, including Barker, who drew the lines, had enough discipline to hold back from giving themselves impregnable seats. Instead, they shared the wealth, and everyone won by about 5-10%. It looked dicey for a few of those 5% folks for a while there, but in the end, they were able to pull through.

Decide what you're going to blame, poor district design, or the fact that there aren't enough solid Ds downstate to get us a sure majority every year, no matter how well the districts are drawn.


All K-12 education expenses should be paid by local taxes, except for the amounts necessary to ensure local schools are operated in poor jurisdictions that make a fair and reasonable local tax effort. Wealthier jurisdictions, such as Fairfax County, should send their payment directly to the poor areas. Jurisdictions in the middle should neither pay to, nor receive from, other localities education support. Why are Fairfax County taxpayers paying taxes to help run public schools in places like Charlottesville, Henrico, Chesterfield? Fairfax County residents would all be better off with this plan.

Ghost of RWR

just the facts and NotJohnSMosby,

If Obama was not a drag, trust me, your side would have done much better and they would STILL have the Senate. It’s not about who “survived”, like those in NOVA that had to pay a fortune to do so. You guys lost seats in the Senate and House that should have stayed in D hands (Barlow, Abbott, Houck, and Reynolds).

Things are, indeed, as they appear to be.


Re: “The salve for Dems is that the rural white population is rapidly decreasing in relation to urban and suburban growth.”

I am not sure such confidence should be placed in this theory. First, urban/suburban growth from youth/minority brings in a lower voter population while the current successful youth/minority population matures from “takers” to “givers” thereby becoming conservative and less likely to desire to fund the “takers” of society. (please note that I did not say “needy”)
It might be good to recall the quote: “If you're not a liberal at 20, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative at 40, you have no brain.”

A better bet for the D’s would be to move more to the center (same advice goes to the R’s) and attack from the middle because that is truly where the battle lies. However this is tactic more difficult for liberals as their beliefs even on the “margins” are much more out of touch with mainstream Americans; and for the most part destructive to our continuing as a viable society.
I point to Greece as an example.


A larger percent of old whites in Fairfax and Arlington are Democrats compared to old whites downstate. While some white people do get more conservative as they get older, there's a much stronger correlation to rural vs urban than age.

If age was the major factor, a large percentage of hard-core Democrats in NoVA wouldn't be baby boomers.

Most of the white flight crowd I know were never Democrats at all, they've always voted Republican and continue to do so. Republicans fleeing out to the outer suburbs doesn't help the overall Republican case, since what happened in Fairfax in the last 20 years will absolutely happen again in Loudoun and Prince William. The next demographic move will be white Republicans moving further out, into the Valley and further down I-95.

Fairfax will get a half-percent or so more Democratic every election until our numbers will look like Arlington and Alexandria today. Loudoun and Prince William will start to look more like western Fairfax, although in Prince William's case, there is already a very sizable solid Democratic area along I-95.

The white flight Republicans are very different than the rural Republicans on whose land they will take over. They're not the guns, god and gays patrol, and as we've seen quite a bit in Loudoun, they tend to flip suddenly to voting Democratic for a few cycles in reaction to poor Republican policies or politicians. Rural whites would never and won't ever vote for a Democrat, while the white flight crew will if they're pissed off enough at Republicans. That's why Loudoun went heavy for Democrats in 2005-2008.

Not Dick Saslaw

John, you're making the (wishful thinking) fallacy of assuming a current trend will continue indefinitely.

I'm sure Fairfax will continue to grow Democratic, but you can't say with any certainty it will grow a half a percent until it gets to Arlington & Alexandria numbers.

The demographics in Fairfax are different. The residents are less transient. It's a D-leaning county and will likely continue to be, but you can't make that broad of a prediction.

Not Dick Saslaw

Incidentally, I found lowell's story about Houck's district rather interesting. Somehow I can't seem to get shocked! that Creigh Deeds would behave in such a way.


How is a county that has voted around 55-60% or more for Democratic candidates every year since 2004 except 2009 only Democratic leaning? Republicans seem to think that somehow, somewhere, there is a legion of secret Republican voters just yearning to be free.

Here's a hint, they all moved to Loudoun and Prince William early last decade. The 2009 election - where Taliban Bob won by a couple thousand votes - is the outlier, not the two years since or the 4 years earlier.

Are you anticipating some large influx of evangelicals moving to Fairfax? Are you expecting an exodus of Asians and Hispanics?

Take a look at the 11th CD. Every year, Tom Davis lost a percent or so more of the Fairfax vote. That was as an incumbent. Look at Drainesville this year, where John Foust won re-election in a landslide. Yeah, Sully and Springfield districts are still leaning Republican, but much less than even 5-6 years ago. 10 years ago, anything inside the beltway was Democratic and beyond, a toss-up to Republican. Now, it's pretty much anything east or north of Fairfax County Parkway is pretty solidly Democratic.

Mr Bubbles

someone correct me if im wrong, but didnt brian moran promise to contest all 140 races this year while he was running for DPVA chair?

... way to be a man of your word brian and make the dems competitive.

Rtwng Extrmst

Now that Bolling is the key to GOP majority in the Senate, do you think there will be pressure to have him run for a 3rd term as LG to avoid the possibility of losing that control?

just the facts

Ghost, actually the Democratic turnout in Fairfax, Eastern Prince William, Arlington, Alexandria and Henrico was quite robust. Ergo why the Fairfax GOP chair resigned - the Fairfax GOP won virtually nothing other than reelecting some incumbents. Similarly, big Dem gains in Henrico. Barker actually outperformed his 2007 numbers in PWC and turnout in Alexandria's west end, notorious for low turnout was surprisingly robust at 28.5%. These numbers for Dems were certainly NOT indicative of a backlash to Obama.

NJSM I will point out that this year Dems performance in the 34th HoD & 31st state senate races were still quite depressed. But otherwise, Democratic performance in Fairfax and even Eastern Prince William was quite strong!

Glen Tomkins

"10 years ago, anything inside the beltway was Democratic and beyond, a toss-up to Republican. Now, it's pretty much anything east or north of Fairfax County Parkway is pretty solidly Democratic."

This sounds like the Theory of Beltway Creep. Perhaps these successive beltways aren't just markers of the process, maybe they actually cause R to D conversion. If so, let's build an outer, outer beltway that runs through Fredericksburg, and then we take Houck's seat back.

Sooner or later, we get to Idaho, and then maybe we'll have some peace and quiet around election time instead of all this bickering.

Glen Tomkins

"10 years ago, anything inside the beltway was Democratic and beyond, a toss-up to Republican. Now, it's pretty much anything east or north of Fairfax County Parkway is pretty solidly Democratic."

This sounds like the Theory of Beltway Creep. Perhaps these successive beltways aren't just markers of the process, maybe they actually cause R to D conversion. If so, let's build an outer, outer beltway that runs through Fredericksburg, and then we take Houck's seat back.

Sooner or later, we get to Idaho, and then maybe we'll have some peace and quiet around election time instead of all this bickering.

Kris Amundson

Also, and Ben knows I am no fan of the redistricting map, Toddy was unopposed in 2007. Of COURSE she was a donor that year.


Jack -- given the CITIZEN'S UNITED decision, it would likely take a constitutional amendment to change donor to only those voters of those candidates. And we all know that both sides of the political aisle have perhaps, a billion reasons for why that will never happen.


By the way, nearly all of the House losses were redistricting-related. That is sort of being overlooked here. Abbott, Armstrong, and Barlow had to run in reconfigured districts, and the open seats in Loudoun and Prince William were drawn by House Republicans to elect Republicans. The Dems' one unforced error seems to be a bad candidate in the open Shuler seat.

Ghost of RWR

Just the facts,

I think we’re talking past each other. The big turnout in eastern PWC was driven by well financed challenges to Colgan, Barker, and Puller. They countered, therefore the numbers. In fact, I would say that they wound up using a lot of money in these races that could have helped elsewhere, like Houck and Reynolds. The point you are missing is those challenges to well established-democrats represents a backlash by the GOP and that backlash took the form of those well-established democrats having to spend a huge amount of money to win. I don’t think this can be ignored. These should have been sleepy campaigns for them. Instead, they were a wake-up call.

Again, things are as they appear to be. Obama’s approval in Virginia is in the toilet. And denying that people are influenced by this at the voter booth is no more than whistling past the graveyard. Really.

Ghost of RWR

One more thing, all of you Democrats should read this.

It sums up well how rural folks are running from your party in areas where Democrats have ruled for 100 years.


How is Barker a well-established Democrat? He won by a few hundred votes in the 2007 wave year for Dems.

How is Toddy a well-established Democrat in her new district? The precincts in Stafford and I believe most of Prince William were totally new to her.

Chuck is a well-established candidate, but one who squeaked by his last re-election.

All three ended up overperforming, by 4-10 points overall. No one on the Democratic side thought they would win with the margins they did. I know for a fact that internal polling showed Barker losing to Baker, so somehow 6-7 points were made up by GOTV. Colgan was expected to win by 2-3 points, Toddy by maybe 6-7.

So, don't play Monday morning political quarterback and claim that those candidates - especially Barker - should have won easily and it was a waste of time, money and other resources to get them re-elected. That was never the case in a neutral year or especially in a Republican-leaning year. Maybe in a year like 2005 or 2007, they could have coasted. This year was not a year like that.

Ghost of RWR


You just don’t get it, do you? If you didn’t have a President with such negative numbers in Virginia (Read the RDT this AM) then you would still have the senate and these 3 would NOT have had a significant challenge at all. Follow the money. Look how much they had to spend. Do you think for a minute that if Obama was 10 points ahead in Virginia that these 3 would have had such staunch challenges—and this is key—that caused the D’s to spend tons of money in NOVA?

This is not Monday morning QB-ing. It’s seeing things as they are, but given your pasts posts, I can see where that is a challenge for you.

Gretchen Laskas

I'm happy to follow the money. And by Dems not running candidates in even the most unwinnable HoD seats, using shoe string budgets, this allowed Republicans to focus on the Senate as much as we did. Every unchallenged Delegate was a pool of money, time and energy for Republicans to draw from.


Ok, Obama has low approval ratings in Virginia. What are Eric Cantor's, statewide? What is the Republican House of Representatives approval ratings in Virgina?

You want to pick and choose particular data points to justify your position. You are most likely picking Obama's and McDonnell's approval ratings. What you're ignoring are the Republican House's approval rating, Mark Warner's approval rating, and a variety of others. You also ignore the extremely early presidential polls, which the latest one - Quinnipaic, about a month ago - show Obama even with Romney and ahead of Perry.

A lot of people may not like Obama's performance, but they dislike the Republican House performance even more. And if Obama was such a drag on Democrats this year, why are his poll numbers relatively good? Are you positing that voters are punishing Democrats for being Democrats because the President is one? If so, why are the Presidential polls not showing that? You can't have it both ways, either everyone is running from Obama or they aren't. The only set of scientific polls we have do not support your hypothesis. We certainly did not see that in large swaths of Virginia this year, and not just in Fairfax or Richmond.

Is it that you ask all of your Republican friends what they think of Obama, and extrapolate that to the entire state? I admit, you have dipshits like Ward Armstrong taking the Republican bait and running away from the President. But Ward lost by six points after spending a large fortune in a cheap area. I don't think it was hatred of Obama that caused a six point loss.

Ghost of RWR


Cantor and the GOP House are not running for the sole office of President. Completely different dynamic that even you should understand. What some proof? Take a look at the collective rating of Congress (which is awful) and THEN ask people what they think of THEIR Congressman. You’ll find the “reelect” numbers are vastly different and positive. This is not unlike what people say about public education. When polled they often say public ed is on its butt, but when asked about the school THEIR kid goes to, the numbers invert.

When you compare Obama’s numbers with Congresses’ you in a way are comparing apples and oranges.

Face it, Obama is a drag. And as long as he plays the blame game and struts about bashing Congress, his numbers will get worse. Think about it this way. When Obama “runs against Washington” he’s running against himself, but he and his nitwit advisors haven’t figured this out yet. BTW, please don’t tell them, not that they would listen anyway.


More facts: all Dems in Fairfax had GOP opponents. Total Dem votes: 56%, total GOP votes: 44%.

just the facts

Ghost of RWR -- 56% is a pretty darn solid Dem performance in Fairfax and Barker outperformed his 2007 #'s in PWC. I don't see how you could ascribe this to a backlash against Obama.... In fact quite the contrary, it is the beginning of people who are more urban/ suburban cosmopolitan reacting to what they see from right wing overreach by Cantor and their ilk at the federal level, and Scott Walker, Rick Scott, Jan Brewer and John Kasich at the state level and not liking what they are seeing.

The Democratic results from Henrico were incredibly strong for a county where the Dems usually can't put up a fight.

Obama may be a drag in rural and exurban areas but he sure as heck is NOT in the inner suburbs. To borrow your phrase, things are as they seem


I agree, just wanted to get the numbers out there.

kelley in virginia

& while I agree that Dems are losing in rural areas (echoing the RTD), I don't see why Dems would care. we don't have the vote or the propensity to donate big money down here in the rural areas.

Ghost of RWR

Again, it’s not about the numbers, guys. It’s about the money it TOOK to get these numbers in a challenging environment for you…one that is a result of Obama.

You lost the senate. Lost it. Gone. Why? Because you lost two senators. Now the GOP has the whole government. You can quote your numbers in Fairfax until the cows come home, but the GOP challenges made you keep money in NOVA. That would not have been possible had there not been an environment to support it. Hell, Colgan had to call outside of PWC to raise money from other Senators. Was that in your plan? Puller sucked down tons of money, so did barker and Marsden.

I guess we’ll have to wait until Obama actually loses Virginia and the election for this to sink in. Hasten the day and hour.



How much did Vogel spend to crush her opponent by 40 points?

So, getting back to your argument, was the drag from Obama or was it money that lost the two senate seats? You seem to be arguing one or the other, just not at the same time.

just the facts

Ghost, 223 votes in Fredericksburg and the Senate would still be clearly in Dem hands. As it is, you barely control it by a technicality. 56 % performance in Fairfax county is only 2 points lower than Obama's 2008 which actually portends well for 2012 where it is an aggregate turnout battle. And Democratic motivation to vote, already way up will be driven even further when the likes of Dick Black are pushing McDonnell to push a far right governance agenda. As evidenced by Ohio and Wisconsin, and even Arizona right wing extremism doesn't wear well. When the electorate sees a lot of gun, god, gays and abortion legislation and not a lot of jobs from Gov "Bob's for jobs" I think that the Democratic turnout in 2012 already good in Henrico, Fairfax, E PWC, Arlington and Alexandria will go through the roof....

So don't count your chickens before they hatch....

Ghost of RWR

Not only have the chickens hatched, they have come home to roost. You guys no longer have the Senate. Things are as they appear to be….

just the facts

You are warned against arrogance and overreach Ghost of RWR. Arrogance will be your downfall...

And GOP overreach has already fired up the Democratic voters in OH and WI.... Want to test that here in VA? Your cohorts seem to want to...

Democratic suburban turnout was already strong this cycle so, push the ideological envelope at your own risk

Ghost of RWR

You have moved the conversation away from my central point to one of “overreach”. I have not talked about that at all. What I have said—and am done with for now—is that Obama owns some of this defeat in Virginia. You have pushed back on that idea. Fine. Changing the conservation away from Obama may be a comfort for you.

But to my original point, things are as they appear to be and Obama was a drag on you, which is why the Senate was lost. Don’t shift under the point.


My question remains, would we progressives be better off between now and the next Census and redistricting if the Democratic Senate had adopted a Tea Party-like refusal to compromise on either the House or Senate maps and thrown state legislative redistricting into the courts to resolve?



Not really, since you would be back to a choice of two - the Senate plan, or the House plan. What was adopted on the Senate side was a compromise plan that wasn't too different from the Democratic plan. The House plan would have had us lose 5-6 Senators instead of 2, so it was unacceptable. There was very little upside from what we got under the first Senate plan, but massive downside to the House plan. So, no gamble on that.

For Congressional redistricting, it's the opposite. The House plan is acceptable to all 11 incumbents, who helped create it. The Senate plan is designed to almost guarantee a 4th Democratic seat in 2012. So, there's no downside to rolling the dice and seeing if the courts pick your plan - or if the DoJ picks it.

Will Radle

I want to make it clear, while both parties were saying GEORGE LINCOLN Barker would lose, I endorsed him.

He won and he deserved to win. George carried 3 bills through the Democratic senate for McDonell, worked 20 bills passed a Democatic senate and a Republican House signed by a Republican Governor.

My personal senator was the only Virginian who stood on the floor and fought for fair treatment of Fairfax County taxpayers and students. His opponent tried to paint him as a partisan hack.

George won and he deserved to win!

A. Will Radle, Jr.
Creating a Culture of Listening

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