At the end of Part One, we had finished up looking at the changes in the 5th District from 2000 to 2004. The 5th District after 2004 looked to be a pretty solid Republican district, with the base Republican vote around 56% during some good Republican elections. Goode's crossover appeal had leveled out and was being boosted by the powers of incumbency. This put him safely over 60% in every election. I ended with the question, "What would happen if you combined a good Democratic year with a Democrat with resources?" We'll get there in 2008; we have to look at 2006 and a few more trends first.
First, as I noted in Part One, the 5th after redistricting was a slightly less Republican district than in 2000. But that didn't stop Bush from topping his 2000 performance when running for reelection. But Bush only narrowly outperformed his 2000 performance in the 5th District. At the same time, the nation swung to Bush by 5 points nationally and 1 point in Virginia. We know that Virginia has been moving demographically toward the Democrat Party for a few years now. But pundits have always been focused on Northern Virginia for this shift. Is it possible that the 5th, particularly around Charlottesville, was also shifting to the Democrat Party? If we assume a uniform 5 point shift nationally, but the 5th shifted only 1 point, was there a 4 point shift toward to the Democrats in the demographics of the 5th District? Or does the 5th District not swing as much as the rest of the nation?
Let's look at the 2006 results. Virgil Goode failed to break 60% for the first time in his reelection. He defeated his same liberal Democrat challenger from 2004 59% to 40%. At the top of the ticket, Republican George Allen won the 5th District but lost the state. In the 5th, he won 54% of the vote to Webb's 45% of the vote. Let's first compare Goode to Allen. The crossover was down to 6% across the district.
Albemarle County: 42% Allen, 45% Goode (+3%)
Appomattox County: 65% Allen, 70% Goode (+5%)
Bedford County: 65% Allen, 71% Goode (+6%)
Brunswick County: 42% Allen, 46% (+4%)
Buckingham County: 54% Allen, 59% Goode (+5%)
Campbell County: 68% Allen, 72% Goode (+4%)
Charlotte County: 60% Allen, 65% Goode (+5%)
Cumberland County: 58% Allen, 63% Goode (+5%)
Fluvanna County: 54% Allen, 57% Goode (+3%)
Franklin County: 61% Allen, 71% Goode (+10%)
Greene County: 62% Allen, 64% Goode (+2%)
Halifax County: 59% Allen, 64% Goode (+5%)
Henry County: 57% Allen, 70% Goode (+13%)
Lunenburg County: 57% Allen, 62% (+5%)
Mecklenburg County: 59% Allen, 64% (+5%)
Nelson County: 46% Allen, 48% Goode (+2%)
Pittsylvania: 65% Allen, 70% Goode (+5%)
Prince Edward County: 52% Allen, 58% Goode (+6%)
Bedford City: 54% Allen, 61% Goode (+7%)
Charlottesville City: 22% Allen, 24% Goode (+2%)
Danville City: 50% Allen, 55% Goode (+5%)
Martinsville City: 43% Allen, 59% Goode (+16%)
Goode's crossover is flat across the district outside of his old State Senate district, with the lowest crossover in the northern parts of the district. What's important about this race is Webb's lackluster performance in the 5th. His 45% performance is just slightly north of John Kerry's 43%. And that's with a wave pushing the Democrats into office, including Jim Webb. In fact, Webb seems to have done uniquely poor in the 5th compared to his statewide surge. Look at this analysis of the shift in voting between 2004 and 2006. The Southside portions of the 5th and 4th are the heart of a strong pro-Republican shift against a Democrat wave. Why?
The Southeast region of the state is also the most heavily African-American. So despite "macaca", George Allen actually fared better these counties, relatively speaking, than George Bush did. Perhaps, you may think, as with urban areas, there is simply not much room for improvement? Not so; in Sussex County (61% African-American), Webb's 52-48 margin of victory was smaller than Kerry's 56-44 win. Again, it's unclear what to the underlying cause of Webb's weakness among African Americans was. Was it the result of more resources going into Central & Southwest Virginia? Allen's immediate effort to earn the endorsement of black politicians? Voter intimidation? We can't say which it was with any certainty.
I don't have a good reason for this shift to Allen. At the state and local level, George Allen has always been successful in reaching out to the African-American community, despite what liberals claim. Here's a dear friend of the St. Paul College community. I can also understand that Webb, strapped for cash, was unable to devote resources to the rural parts of the state. Were African-Americans juts not voting, or were they voting for Allen, or a little of both?
Whatever the reason, Virgil Goode was brought under 60% in 2006 thanks to a decline in his crossover appeal. Allen's 54% showing is only a slight decline from the historic 56% in the 5th District for Republican candidates. Goode would have hit 60% if he had the same crossover he did in 2004 or 2000. Drip by drip, election by election, his support is being narrowed to Republicans. That's fine with a Republican district like the 5th. Especially since the 5th District seemed to behave counter-cyclically in 2006, with something happening on the ground in Southside to blunt the Democratic wave felt nationally.
Scroll up and re-read my discussion of 2004. If Bush's national wave was enough to overcome a swing to the Democrats with demographic changes around Charlottesville, we'd expect the lack of Bush to help the Democrats. A "neutral" election in 2006 might even see the Democrats doing 4 points better in the 5th. Instead, they topped out around 2. That's with a Democratic wave pushing Webb into office. Something, either the strength of George Allen in Southside, the lack of resources of Jim Webb for rural Virginia, or the contrarian voting habits of the 5th District was pushing the 5th toward the Republican Party while everyone else seemed to be going to the Democrats.
Lucky for us, we have some polling from 2006 to add to the story. There are three Survey USA polls from 2006.
July 23-25: Goode 59%, Weed 35%
October 8-10: Goode 56%, Weed 40%
October 30-November 1: Goode 61%, Weed 35%
Election Day: Goode 59%, Weed 40%
The results seemed to be spot on for Goode, although it seems that all of the undecideds broke to Weed in the end. Maybe people didn't want to admit to a pollster, even a robotic one, that they like Weed?
Let's look at the interns for Survey USA.
First, race. The July poll had 19% black voters, the October poll 17%, and the final poll 17%.
Next, party. The July poll favored Republicans 45% to 29% Democrats to 23% Independents. In October, the breakdown was 42% Republican, 33% Democrats, 23% Independents. Final poll, 44% Republican, 32% Democrats, 22% Independents.
One more, ideology. The July poll had 44% conservatives, 35% moderates, and 11% liberals. October, 39% conservative, 39% moderate, and 13% liberals. Final, 42% conservative, 36% moderate, and 11% liberal.
We haven't talked about 2008 yet, that's Part Three, but I want to point out how these polls compare to the current Survey USA polls.
The RDD poll showing it an 11 point race has 20% black voters. The RBS poll showing it a 17 point race has only 12% black voters. That's projecting less black turnout than in 2006. While I understand that black turnout should be down from 2008, in which Survey US had it at 22% but believes the election day total was 25%, I don't see why it should be even less than 2006. The RDD seems more realistic than their RBS.
Also, their party breakdown in the RDD poll seems odd with 36% Republican, 32% Democrats, and 29% Independents. Is that a sign that they are underestimating Republican turnout? I don't know, because their ideology is 47% conservative, 35% moderate, and 10% liberal. That's very similar to 2006. Are more Republicans calling themselves independents these days because of the Tea Party? Could be.
Part three next.