Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Fightin' 19th!

Want to know more about Robert Hurt's State Senate seat, the Fightin' 19th? Ben Tribbet profiled the seat along with several others back in 2006 as part of his series looking ahead to the 2007 elections. The numbers at the time:

George Bush defeated John Kerry 46,348 (61.2%) to 29,359 (38.8%).

Jerry Kilgore defeated Tim Kaine 26,730 (55.3%) to 21,645 (44.7%).

George Allen defeated Jim Webb 34,056 (61.2%) to 21,624 (38.8%).

At this point, pre-2008, there's far less fluctuation on the Democratic side (just 8,000 votes or so) than on the Republican side (around 20,000 votes). There is a solid base of hard core Democratic voters that consistently turned out, versus a larger mass of Republicans that vary on the election. I'm sure the 2009 election messed with this trend, but I don't want to waste time talking about how horrible Deeds was as a candidate.

And here is 2008, based on my calculations:

John McCain defeated Barack Obama 45,448 (58.05%) to 32,837 (41.95%).

Virgil Goode defeated Tom Perriello 44,398 (57.99%) to 32,170 (42.01%).

We see McCain hitting Bush's numbers, probably representing a ceiling in the district. But Obama pulls in an additional 3,000, primarily African-Americans, to slightly narrow the contest.

And 2010:

Robert Hurt defeated Tom Perriello 35,716 (56.60%) to 25,926 (41.09%).

Hurt's total is not that different from Allen in 2006, but Perriello boosted Democratic turnout from the previous midterm.

In the localities the vote breaks down like this.

Franklin County:

John McCain defeated Barack Obama 15,414 (60.68%) to 9,618 (37.76%).

Virgil Goode defeated Tom Perriello 15,654 (62.27%) to 9,475 (37.69%).

Robert Hurt defeated Tom Perriello 11,247 (60.69%) to 6,629 (35.77%).

Want to know one reason why Goode lost to Perriello? The almost laughable crossover appeal that Virgil Goode had in his home of Franklin County, where every other landmark is named after his father and he's been running for elections since the 1970s.

Jeff Clark received 3.4% in Franklin County, one of his better showings in the 5th District. Perriello ran behind his 2008 percentages in all of Franklin County outside of the following precincts: Hodgesville, Snow Creek, Fork Mountain, Sontag, Henry, Waidsboro, and all of the three Rocky Mount precincts. He ran practically even with his 2008 performance in Dickinson, Ferrum, Callaway, and Gogginsville. What does this all mean? Perriello did best in the parts of the county excluding the precincts around Smith Mountain Lake and the growth south of Roanoke on 220. This makes me question the criticism I've heard that Perriello didn't campaign enough in "real" parts of the 5th and focused too heavily on affluent areas, including Smith Mountain Lake. Across the 5th, the areas that swung against Perriello were very "un-Southside," more affluent suburban areas that are not typical of how pundits and commentators view the district.

For what it's worth, from 2008 the precincts in Franklin County where Perriello improved over his 2008 performance are the precincts most likely to show probable Obama-Goode ticket splitters. Did Goode Democrats come home to Perriello in 2010 only to see stronger turnout among affluent, surbuban, economic conservatives push him out of office?

Campbell County

Only 9 Campbell County precincts are in the 19th. These tend to be the parts of the county farther away from the Lynchburg growth area, but with higher African-American populations.

John McCain defeated Barack Obama 6,690 (65.32%) to 3,552 (34.68%).

Virgil Goode defeated Tom Perriello 6,162 (62.20%) to 3,745 (37.80%).

Robert Hurt defeated Tom Perriello 4,803 (62%.12%) to 2,713 (35.03%).

Both Obama and Perriello performed better in these Campbell County precincts than the County as a whole in 2008. Perriello's showing in Campbell County as a whole dropped from 35.59% in 2008 to 31.12% in 2010. In the southern portions of Campbell County in the 19th, Perriello's drop was smaller than the more significant decline his support shows in the more suburban precincts around Lynchburg. This is a very similar trend to what we saw in Franklin County. The areas where Perriello improved from 2008 were outside of the growth around Lynchburg and in the southern portions, such as the town of Altavista.

Pittsylvania County

John McCain defeated Barack Obama to 18,730 (61.55%) to 11,415 (37.51%).

Virgil Goode defeated Tom Perriello 18,184 (62.24%) to 11,022 (37.73%).

Robert Hurt defeated Tom Perriello 13,531 (61.47%) to 8,032 (36.48%).

Seriously Robert? You started your career on the Chatham Town Council, you've been representing Pittsylvania for years, you have a huge Republican wave at your back, and you can't do any better in Pittsylvania than the Republican performance from 2008? Perriello was able to match if not exceed his percenatage from 2008 in many of the county's more African-American precincts, minimizing the drop off he faced in the more white areas that swung slightly to Hurt.

Many people, pundits, and commentators argued that Robert Hurt, through his years of service in Southside, would have an advantage defeating Tom Perriello through name recognition and the like. The more I look at the results, the more I'm convinced that Robert Hurt won because affluent suburban Republicans turned out strongly against the big government schemes of Barack Obama and Tom Perriello. It was the R next to Robert's name that put him over the top.

Danville City:

Barack Obama defeated John McCain 12,352 (59.13%) to 8,361 (40.02%).

Tom Perriello defeated Virgil Goode 11,485 (57.97%) to 8,322 (42.00%).

Tom Perriello defeated Robert Hurt 8,552 (57.56%) to 6,123 (41.29%).

2008 was a big difference from 2004, when John Kerry narrowly defeated George Bush 9,436 (49.37%) to 9,399 (49.18%). McCain is behind Bush in Danville, which may represent four more years of affluent white voters moving away from the economic death spiral that is Danville. Almost all of Obama's improvement over Kerry in the 19th comes from Danville's African-American precincts.

Despite a significant flood of African-Americans turning out to vote for Obama, Perriello kept his total close to Obama's and minimized ballot drop off. Virgil Goode also held the McCain voters very well. It's also worth noting that this is the heart of Danny Marshall's delegate district in the 14th, around 2/3rds overall. The 14th includes all of the city of Danville, 5 precincts in Henry County, and 4 precincts in Pittsylvania County.

In 2007, when Adam Tomer lost to Danny Marshall 48% to 52%, Danville was actually narrowly split between the two candidates: Tomer received 51% and Marshall 49%. A strong Democratic turnout in Danville is a major threat to Marshall, which is something that Republicans will try to address in redistricting.

The problem with Marshall's campaign and almost all Democrats not named Barack Obama has been turning out Danville's African-American base. Tom Perriello in 2010 was able to mobilize this constituency, which if replicated in the future could really worry Marshall and other Southside Republicans. And it's the only hope for Democrats in the upcoming special election.

Worth noting from Ben's analysis is "In the Governor's race, 4,000 of Kilgore's 5,000 vote margin came out of Pittsylvania County." The importance of Pittsylvania County in this district cannot be overstated. And likely Democratic nominee Hank Davis is making sure to bring that point home:

"The next senator needs to come from Pittsylvania County," said Davis, who has made no formal announcement. "We are the largest both in terms of size and population and we're smack dab in the center of the district."

It's going to be difficult, if not impossible, for the Democrats to win the 19th in the special election, but it would start with replicating the strong turnout among African-Americans in Danville and trying to improve their performance in Pittsylvania through Hank Davis's local service and potentially a Republican fumble if they nominate someone from outside Pittsylvania and Danville. Perriello's shown it's possible to turn out African-Americans in Danville, will Hank Davis take the next step?

Special Election in Southside!

Pittsylvania County Supervisor Hank Davis is set to announce his bid for the State Senate seat vacated by Congressman-elect Robert Hurt. The State Party has already announced they won't do anything to help him. This isn't going to be pretty . . .

Monday, November 8, 2010

Virginia Uranium Just Bought a State Senate Seat

Ben has some breaking news about the downfall of the DPVA and the quest to put Brian Moran into power, but let's not forget about more bad news for Virginia Democrats. They will not be challenging, at all, the contest to replace now Congressman-elect Robert Hurt in the Virginia State Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw said Monday that Democrats do not plan to field a candidate to replace state Sen. Robert Hurt in his largely Republican district because Saslaw doesn't want to "waste our money."

"I know what we can do and what we can't do,'' said Saslaw (D-Fairfax).

Now I'm sure that Saslaw has every reason not to contest this seat, which is almost certain to vote Republican. But there was an outside chance that likely nomination of Franklin County lawyer and 5th District Republican Party Chair Bill Stanley could set up a dynamic in which Democrats can play the geography card and argue that the state senate seat needs to be kept in Pittsylvania-Danville hands. The best candidate to do this? Pittsylvania Supervisor Hank Davis.

Why isn't Saslaw even playing with the idea of putting his weight behind Hank Davis in the special election?

As with any election, the leaders of the state party turn to "trusted" sources to determine if a candidate has a shot at the election. Years of local service are unlikely to get the attention of Richmond. No, what gets the attention of Richmond are lobbyists and money. And when it comes to Southside Virginia, no one speaks louder in the state party than former Danville Delegate turned Richmond Lobbyist Witt Clement.

Clement, who among his clients counts Virginia Uranium, was dismissive of Hank Davis as a potential candidate when the big dogs in Richmond started to ask around about the special election. Why? Is it because he doesn't think Davis, who's manage to win election in one of Virginia's most Republican counties, isn't electable? Or because Clement doesn't want an opponent of uranium mining in the Virginia State Senate?

Virginia Uranium just purchased a State Senate seat thanks to the good work of Witt Clement. Are they about to purchase the Chairmanship of the DPVA too?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Robert Hurt's Special Election

Why would all three of the big name Delegates in Robert Hurt's old State Senate seat back away from running in the upcoming special election?

Why would the Republican establishment clear the field for an unelected partisan with no legislative experience?

What's going on in Southside right now?

More to come . . .