Thursday, November 6, 2008

Election Followup in the Shenandoah Valley

I hear this evening that the inner core of elite Republican conservatives are meeting at Brent Bozell's estate in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to plot their comeback after their defeat in the US presidential election of 2008. As it is, for the first time since 1964, Virginia voted for a Democrat for president, the victorious Barack Obama (and as someone who was in actual civil rights demonstrations back in the early to mid 1960s and saw Martin Luther King, Jr. speak, this is an immensely satisfying outcome). It was 52% to 47%, only slightly more pro-McCain than the overall national outcome of 52% to 46%, fitting the forecast of Virginia as the ultimate marginal state, now reflecting average national views (sorry that the results were so slow coming in, but there were major ballot box issues here, leftover suppression, including a major scandal here in Harrisonburg where Obama's top operative was not allowed to vote, among other nonsense coming out of the registrar's office, something occurring elsewhere in the commonwealth as desperate Republicans tried to hold on to power).

While the rural Shenandoah Valley continues to be very Republican (Rockingham County around Harrisonburg went 68% for McCain, compared with 73% for Bush in 2004), the city of Harrisonburg broke its past pattern of matching closely Virginia statewide averages. It went 58% for Obama, but then we had a visit from Obama a week before the election, which definitely fired up his supporters, who came out big time. On a personal level, local Democrats who happen to be friends of mine swept the city council races, with the founder of the internationally known Orange Band Initiative, Kai Degner, a former James Madison University student, coming in on the top, and the father of my daughter's longtime boyfriend, Richard Baugh, coming in second, with one of them probably going to become mayor of the city (my daughter put together his campaign website, :-)).

2 comments: said...

I am going out on a limb, although not too far, and predict that Kai Degner will be the next mayor of Harrisonburg, VA, with Richard Baugh serving as vice mayor, :-). said...

One more note here. An issue that has been brought up in Harrisonburg in particular has been the role of students at JMU in the election, their presence almost certainly a major reason we received a visit from Barack Obama one week before the election. Some local Republicans have charged that not only were they a factor in Obama taking Harrisonburg, but also in affecting the down ballot local races, where presumably the students knew not what they were doing or whom they were voting for.

Fortunately, even the local newspaper, the extremely conservative Daily News-Record has been willing to parse this out and undo this line. Pretty much all the students voted in one of the precincts, where indeed the vote was highest and which was more strongly pro-Democratic up and down the line than the other four precincts. However, an article in the DNR pointed out that if one only looked at the other four districts, Obama still solidly won Harrisonburg. The local population is simply trending more Democratic. Furthermore, the top two of the three Dem winners for the city council would have still won, likely incoming mayor, Kai Degner, with likely incoming vice mayor, Richard Baugh in a solid second place. Only for one of the council seats might there have been a different outcome, although it should be kept in mind that not all the voters at Stone Spring Elementary School were JMU students, so even that third seat might still have gone for the Democrat, Dave Wiens (as it did), even if no JMU students had voted.