Football & Politics

Image from waitingfornextyear.com

Today, like many other Sundays in the autumn, many of us gather together to cheer on our favorite football teams.  For me, that means the New York Giants, who have had a rather dismal season thus far and have already been eliminated from any hopes of a playoff spot.  When you look at it objectively, my life doesn’t really improve if my team wins or diminish if it loses.  The Giants blue and red has no greater value in the great scheme of things than the Redskins burgundy and gold or the Cowboys navy and silver.  Although fun, most of us realize that it is merely a game, a diversion to entertain us every fall and winter.  No team really subscribes to any kind of philosophy or ethic…the only goal is to win.

Are political parties any different?  Are they merely a collection of politicians and activists looking to get “their people” elected and to ensure that “their people” acquire power?  A number of my Republican friends are cheering Saturday’s defeat of Mary Landreau in the run-off race in Louisiana. But how many of us were a part of that campaign?  How many of us can even vote in Louisiana?  I wasn’t involved in either capacity.  Though, on the other hand, I suppose I did have a bit of a hand in the process, working for a pro-life group who supported Bill Cassidy.  Nevertheless, from my research it seemed that from an ideological perspective, Rob Maness would have been a far better choice than Cassidy.

So, next year the Republican Party will increase its majority in the House of Representatives and gain the Senate as a result of the 2014 midterm elections.  The important question to ask is, what does this mean for conservatives and libertarians?  Will Congress now take a firm stand against the unconstitutional overreaches of the president?  Will they work to actually cut the size and scope of the federal government?  Will they try to cut the exploding federal deficit?  And if they engage in the above activities will it be because they actually believe that it is the right thing to do or merely to oppose a Democratic president?  After all, so many of the Republicans in office now were active conspirators in the effort to expand federal power under the presidency of George W. Bush.  The first test will be whether Republicans continue to give the reins of power to people with little ideological principle like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.

I’m very hopeful that at least a few, solid individuals were elected in the Republican wave of 2014.  After all, the GOP needs a heck of a lot more people like Ron Paul and Justin Amash while at the same time rejecting the John McCains and Lindsey Grahams.

I do caution those of us who love liberty that while November 4th was a victory for the Republican Party, it wasn’t necessarily a victory for us.  In the next two years, will the government allow us to keep more of our own money in our pockets?  Will it work to restore our civil liberties here and abroad?  Will it curtail needlessly entangling itself in civil wars and the internal affairs of foreign nations?  Will it actually obey the limits placed upon it by the Constitution and insist the president do likewise?  If the answer to all of these questions is no, then the only thing that happened last month was that the red Republican team defeated the blue Democratic team and the most recent election was as meaningless and hollow as the Giants trouncing of the Tennessee Titans today.

Phoney Republicans

Real RepublicansLast night, I ventured over to the Harrisonburg Republican Party headquarters.  Given how many hours I had volunteered to the party over the years, I thought I should pop my head in to see how they were doing.  After all, I still have many friends who call the GOP their political home.

While there, one activist suggested that I should return to the fold, that I ought to re-join the party that I had been an active part of from the ages of 15 to 33.  I reminded her that I never left the party, it was the party which left me.  However, her suggestion reminded me of an email that I saw many years ago.

Here, let me tell you a story.

On June 26th of 2009, the secretary of the Republican Party of Harrisonburg sent out the email pictured above, lambasting what the city committee considered to be “phoney Republicans”.  In this case, they were a list of 8 Republicans who voted for Cap and Trade.

What made this message significant was that it conveyed the idea that the Republican Party stood for a certain set of values; furthermore, those members of the party who opposed these core values weren’t really Republicans.  These days, some might call these people RINOS (Republican In Name Only).  To me, it emphasized the idea that Republicans needed to stand on principle, and that merely following party labels blindly could get us in all sorts of trouble.

However, in the five years that have transpired since this email, unfortunately, it seems that the GOP has broken free of ideological mooring.  As far as I have observed, the party doesn’t seem to be particularly concerned about issues anymore.  In my opinion, what any party worth its salt should be doing is promoting principles as their most important goal…as well as helping elect politicians who embrace these values.  Instead, it seems that the greatest (and perhaps only) priority of the GOP is supporting and electing Republicans…even if they embrace a philosophy abhorrent to the grassroots.  For a few notable examples, consider senators like Lindsey Graham, John McCain, or the late Senator Arlen Specter.  How Specter was seen as a good guy when he was a Republican and then a bad guy when he switched to the Democratic Party was beyond me.  After all, his principles remained more or less constant.  Today, where any politician stands on any specific issue is irrelevant.  Only complete and unquestioned loyalty to the party is all that is valued anymore.

I haven’t seen an email like this one from the city committee in a long time.  I do have to wonder though…what if the current secretary of the Harrisonburg Republican Party were to send out a message like the one I have shared with you?  Would the city committee even approve such as message any longer?  Would the establishment insist that he be stripped of his position immediately?

What do you think?  Is there such a thing as “phoney Republicans” anymore?  I think the answer is yes.  However, over the last several years, the party has become so saturated with these so-called “phoney Republicans” that those who point out this truth are becoming the minority and thus silenced or ostracized.  Don’t they know that they are sowing the seeds for their own demise?

Has the party label expanded so much so that one doesn’t need to believe in supposedly core principles?  Let me ask you this, besides Dave Brat, when was the last time that you heard a Virginia Republican stand up for or even mention the Republican Party Creed of Virginia?  Outside of a handful of exceptions, have both the label and the party been rendered effectively worthless?

Palin’s “Baptism”

Image from Gage Skidmore on Wikipedia
Image from Gage Skidmore on Wikipedia

This weekend, 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate spoke at a gathering of the National Rifle Association.  During her talk she stated, “If I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.”  That line was met with considerable applause from the crowd.

Although I have a lot of areas of disagreement with Sarah Palin’s former running mate, Senator John McCain of Arizona, one position that I did appreciate was his steadfast opposition to torture.  Having served in Vietnam, we have been told that he experienced horrible treatment at the hands of his captors and thus knows firsthand of these loathsome practices.  As such, McCain believes that America should not embrace the inhuman tactics of torture.  Regrettably, it seems that Sarah Palin thinks otherwise.

Palin’s viewpoint seems to harken back to Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina who famously declared that anyone suspected of being a terrorist, whether proven or not, should not be afforded due process or legal protection under either the U.S. Constitution or international law.

Also, Sarah Palin doesn’t seem to understand that although torture can sometimes provide useful information, it can also be wildly unreliable as “people will say anything when subjected to intense pain“.

Not only are Palin’s comments on Saturday disturbing from the perspective of constitutional liberty and human rights, they also indicate a troubling theology.

Does she believe that we ought to forcibly baptize non-Christians?  Are her thoughts a nod to the idea of conversion by the sword, the same practice that many on the right condemn some Muslims for enacting on their non-Muslim neighbors?

And shouldn’t most Christians be offended by the idea of comparing baptism, which many of us believe holds deep theological significance, to the loathsome torture of waterboarding?  Do we honestly believe that baptism ought to be held up in the same light of simulated drowning?

Therefore, as they are an affront to both civil liberties and to Christianity, Sarah Palin’s comments regarding baptism by waterboarding must be completely and utterly repudiated.

Perhaps The Answer Is Nothing

Image from https://i.ytimg.com/vi/-a2TUQa6mN0/hqdefault.jpg

On February 25th of this year, I wrote a post asking the question, “did McCain teach the GOP anything?”  In case you haven’t read it, the central point of the piece was that many Republican activists now admit that the nomination of John McCain for president in 2008 was a mistake.  However, it is unclear whether the Republican Party has learned that a politician holding McCain’s viewpoints is unpalatable to the American people.

Having returned from Guatemala, I have sifted through my crammed inbox and discovered not one, but two emails from the Republican National Committee written by none other than Senator John McCain.  Although sent under different titles, the bodies of both emails are exactly the same.  Here is what the senator from Arizona has to say:

A secure world relies on a strong America. And a strong America relies on a robust military.

Yet, sadly under President Obama, America’s military strength has been weakened and our country’s leadership in the world has been questioned.

As a result, the world’s most dangerous players are flexing their muscles. Extremists are gaining ground. And these conflicts are becoming more dangerous by the day for our allies—and for us.

My friend, what we’re seeing across the world, particularly with the situation with Russia, is the ultimate result of Obama’s reckless and feckless foreign policy.

From the beginning, when he refused to criticize the Iranian government, all the way through his incredible misreading of Vladimir Putin, the tyrant hell-bent on restoring the Soviet empire, Obama has led from behind.

If you want to see where Obama and the Democrats’ priorities lie, look at how much they’ve slashed the defense budget yet found ways to pay for every item on their liberal wish list—the pinnacle being ObamaCare.

What kind of message are we sending when we slash defense funds and shrink the size of our military?

On national defense and international security, Democrats just don’t “get it.”

That is why we must take back the Senate to put a check on Obama’s feckless foreign policy in the final two years of his presidency.

We must return to our best traditions of American leadership—for the sake of the cause of freedom, for the sake of the brave Americans who are willing to give their life for this cause, for the sake of our nation’s peace and prosperity.

We must be committed to peace through strength to protect our national security in this dangerous world.

And we must support those facing brutal tyranny by their oppressors and our enemies.

That’s why we must elect more Republicans to the Senate who will fight for freedom and will promote peace throughout the world.

Contribute $14 to the GOP today to help us take back the Senate in 2014.

Thank you,

Senator John McCain

Senator McCain is right when he criticizes some Democrats for expanding the debt through domestic largesse, but fails to realize that in order to combat this issue we must also shrink our military to more affordable levels.  Instead, he promotes a largely unpopular neo-conservative or Wilsonian ideology of using the American military to get involved in every corner of the globe regardless whether the United States or her citizens are under threat of attack.  Along these same lines, Senator McCain goes on to make threatening remarks against Iran and Russia leaving the reader to wonder if he would advocate war or military action (in the absence of Congressional approval) against one or both of these nations.

Opinion polls have shown that a majority of Americans oppose a globalist, expansive, and intrusive foreign policy like McCain’s.  Unfortunately, the senator still hasn’t gotten the memo.  And, as they offer a platform to Senator McCain to air his positions on this issue, it seems that the Republican National Committee doesn’t understand the American people either.  Although admittedly far more Americans are troubled by Russia since the Crimea issue took shape, there has been considerable buyer’s remorse from the conflict in Iraq, steady opposition to getting involved in Syria, and more Americans seem to favor President Obama’s approach to the Ukraine question than McCain’s.

So has the GOP leadership learned anything from the 2008 elections?  They continue to support John McCain even though, according to Politico, he is the least popular senator in the country (even opposed by a considerable majority of Republicans) and seem to advocate a foreign policy that is expensive and opposed by the will of the American people.  Although there are many factors that can and will sway the 2014 midterm elections, should it come as any surprise if the Republican Party fairs poorly, especially if they run candidates aligned with McCain’s ideology?  If the GOP is serious about retaking the Senate in 2014, they must quickly realize that this kind of email will only make their task all the more difficult.

Like Sergeant Schultz, does the leadership in the RNC hear nothing, see nothing, and know nothing?

Did McCain Teach the GOP Anything?

Picture from the website of Senator John McCain

On Monday, I wrote on the Facebook page of a site called Conservative Daily, “Everyday I’m glad that John McCain was not elected president.”  As I write these words, that comment has garnered 911 likes, far more than anything else I’ve said on Facebook to date.

Although still a Republican Senator, John McCain has fallen out of favor with a considerable segment of the conservative movement.  Many people look at some of his recent statements and votes and have come to the realization that he doesn’t share their political values.

However, I’d like to point out that the John McCain of 2014 isn’t that far removed philosophically from the John McCain that was the Republican presidential nominee in 2008.  Then, as now, he supported amnesty, bailouts, the Patriot Act, increased foreign aid, and expanded conflict in the Middle East.  John McCain hasn’t changed, but rather the perception many people have about him has.

Yes, nominating John McCain in 2008 was a mistake.  In much the same way, one could argue that nominating Mitt Romney in 2012 was also an error.  However, it will likely be a few more years until a sizable chunk of the conservative electorate will actually admit as much.

Now, some Republican pundits agree about McCain, but they hold this view simply because he did not win.  As such, these people will be quite willing to nominate candidates like McCain if he or she has a greater chance of winning, completely ignoring his constitutionally questionable principles.

You do have to wonder.  Will the GOP continue to run “moderate” candidates like McCain and then scratch their collective heads in confusion as the Democratic Party claims yet another victory?  Can they not understand that voters don’t want to hold their noses in order to cast their votes?  Don’t they realize that citizens need a candidate that they can actually like and support rather than simply choosing between “the lesser of two evils”?

If I had to place a bet, I’d wager that the Republican Party will fail this lesson yet again in the 2014 Virginia U.S. Senate race.  Nationally the trend will continue in the 2016 presidential contest; they will nominate establishment candidates, in the mold of John McCain, who are completely unable to resonate with the voters.

To quote the book of Proverbs, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.” Proverbs 26:11, NLT.

I’m happy to discover that so many people agree that John McCain was a mistake.  But did the McCain experience teach the GOP anything?  Or is he simply a sign of the future (or lack thereof) of the Republican Party?

Amash’s Tweet of the Month

After Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster over the use of drones to kill American citizens, Senator John McCain responded by calling him and several other legislators “wacko birds“.  In answer, Representative Justin Amash offered an amusing response on Twitter, which reads:

Amash TweetAs you may know, while Senator Paul and other supporters of liberty launched this filibuster, Senator McCain and others in the establishment crowd were absent from the fight, instead enjoying dinner with President Obama.

I’ll applaud the efforts of any legislator who is willing to stand up for our civil liberties against the ever-expanding encroachment of the federal government.  However, even though it is several days old, to offer such a witty reply, as Rep. Amash has done, cannot pass without mention on this blog.

Now I’m sure some politicians (like Senators McCain and Graham) would like nothing more than for the liberty wing of the Republican Party to shut up and go away.  I’m just glad that there are folks like Rep. Amash and Sen. Paul in Washington who are able to lead with both principles and humor.

You call join me in following Rep. Amash on Twitter here.

Ryan in Rockingham County

Paul Ryan in Rockingham County
Photo by Helen Shibut

Paul Ryan, the Republican Representative for Wisconsin’s First Congressional District and Mitt Romney’s running mate, made a campaign stop at the Rockingham County Fair Grounds on Friday.  His visit marks the first of any presidential or vice presidential candidate to the central Shenandoah Valley.

Besides Representative Ryan, speakers also included: Delegate Tony Wilt of Rockingham County, Delegate Steve Landes of Augusta County, State Senator Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg, and Representative Bob Goodlatte of Roanoke.

The event itself was quite well attended.  Most estimates I’ve read peg the audience about 3,000.  Like the recent Obama rally in Charlottesville, each person had to pass through “airport style security” overseen by both the Secret Service and the TSA.

Reaction to the gathering was mixed.  Although most of the people that I spoke with enjoyed Ryan’s speech, the event was plagued with a number of shortfalls.

First, no one could bring in liquids, which was expected.  However, the fact that one could not even get a cup of water without paying for it seemed completed absurd.  Would a person have to suffer through their thirst if he or she could not pay $2.00 for a beverage?

A view of a portion of the crowd and the fence that segregated attendees.

Second, the venue did not allow for a majority of the spectators to see Paul Ryan.  The organizers set up a ring of fences around the platform and only a portion could enter this circle.  Although raised, the platform was not nearly high enough for many people to even catch a glimpse of the man who could very well be our next vice president.

However, one positive aspect, as compared to the Obama event, was that the police did not close down traffic in a highly central location for the better part of an hour, which would have wasted the time of countless residents.

Overall, I would rate Ryan’s event a success even though, as mentioned, there were several aspects that could have been and should have been handled in a better manner.

So the next question is will any of the five presidential candidates: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Gary Johnson, Virgil Goode, or Jill Stein, make a stop in the Shenandoah Valley between now and the election?  If you will recall, four years ago Barack Obama won the city of Harrisonburg after making a speech at JMU while John McCain merely sent a relative to the local GOP headquarters.  After all, personal campaigning is an important element to electoral success and Ryan’s visit on Friday should serve to bolster the local Republican effort.  Now how will the other candidates respond?  Our first answer comes tomorrow when Libertarian Party candidate Judge Jim Gray speaks at JMU.

As a final note, I want to shout out a special thanks to Helen Shibut of Madison Liberty for the picture of Paul Ryan.  As mentioned, I happened to be one of the countless spectators who could not get close enough to get a usable shot.

The Governor Against the Oath

VC Note:  Earlier this morning, I wrote that Lt. Governor released a statement against the loyalty oath for Virginia’s March 6th 2012 Presidential Primary.  For the record, the oath states that by voting in Virginia’s Republican primary, you are pledging to vote for the party’s nominee in the November general election, regardless of which person emerges victorious and irrespective of what principles he or she happens to hold.  Shortly after posting this piece, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell offered his take on the oath, which I present, to you below along with some additional commentary:

 Statement of Governor Bob McDonnell on Proposed  Loyalty Oath for March GOP Presidential Primary in Commonwealth

RICHMOND– Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement this morning regarding the proposed “loyalty oath” that all voters seeking to participate in the March GOP Presidential Primary in Virginia would be required to sign in order to cast a vote.

“Over the past few days I have reviewed the issue of the proposal that voters sign a loyalty oath as a requirement for participation in our upcoming GOP Presidential Primary in March. While I fully understand the reasoning that led to the establishment of this requirement, such an oath is unenforceable and I do not believe it is in the best interests of our Party, or the Commonwealth. The effect of the oath could be one of diminishing participation in the primary, at a time when our Party must be expanding its base and membership as we head into the pivotal 2012 general elections this fall. For these reasons, I urge the State Central Committee to rescind the loyalty oath requirement at its upcoming meeting on the 21st.

It is true that for political parties to remain viable they must have some means by which to control their own nomination processes. I know the loyalty oath was proposed as a possible good faith solution to this issue in this primary election, but there are other ways. I would support legislation to establish voluntary party registration in Virginia. Such a reform to our electoral system would eliminate the need for any oaths or pledges and greatly simplify the nomination process in the Commonwealth.”

VC Note: I always welcome another nail in the coffin of the hated loyalty oath.  Even though odds are pretty good that I will support the Republican nominee against President Obama, I believe the oath attempts to strip away our right to vote our conscious as well as the idea of a secret ballot.  Sure, it is unenforceable, but it creates a situation whereby otherwise honorable people will refuse to sign the oath and therefore be denied the right to vote.  After all, if it is dishonorable to break the oath, then only 100% party loyalists and dishonorable people will show up to vote.  Should either of these two groups have complete control over the primary?  I think doing so is bad for the candidates, bad for the party, bad for the state, and bad for the nation. 

Then again, I believe the process is best handled through conventions rather than primaries.  If states held conventions and caucuses in 2008 as opposed to primaries, I’m pretty sure that the Republican nominee wouldn’t have been John McCain.  Were you happy with that choice?  I know that even though I am a Republican I was not, but then again, neither were a majority of the American voting population.  So how is that hope and change working out for you?

All Eyes on Ames

According to Real Clear Politics, Paul is averaging 8.2% in current polls.  During the primary season in 2008, he mustered around 6.5%.  Although a 1.7% increase might not sound like a whole lot, we should keep in mind that it is still early in the process.  Heck, did the average American even know Ron Paul’s name, much less understand his principles, four years ago?  After all, only during the primaries do most people actually take the time to learn anything about the candidates.  Therefore, I think it is fairly safe to say that the Ron Paul campaign is gathering momentum.

In ten days, August 13th, American politics will focus its attention on the city of Ames, Iowa.  Although not on the political radar often, the city is holding its sixth Republican presidential straw poll.  Last time around in 2007, Mitt Romney won with 31.6% of the vote while Ron Paul captured 9.2%.  This time, I would expect Rep. Paul to easily chart in the double digits.  However, regardless if he wins or finishes somewhere else, I feel I should add a few words of caution about reading too much into this straw poll.

First, it is a straw poll.  It is not binding and the only people allowed to vote are registered voters in Iowa who take the time and effort to show up in Ames.

Second, the winner of this poll does not always go on to win either the Presidency or the Republican nomination.  As mentioned, Mitt Romney won while John Sidney McCain placed a distant tenth in 2007.  In 1999 and 1995, the eventual Republican nominees emerged victorious (George W. Bush and Bob Dole), but back in 1987, Pat Robertson took first place.

Is the Ames poll important?  Yes, I think that all polls have some value and it might thin the field by weeding out minor candidates.  For example, after placing sixth in Ames back in 2007, Tommy Thompson withdrew.  Another factor to consider is that we should keep in mind that not every candidate chooses to campaign here.  Mitt Romney is not bothering with it this year as McCain did last time.

So what is the purpose of Ames?  Like any poll, it merely serves as a small sign of things to come.  I’d wager that if Ron Paul gets 11 to 12% of the vote here, then it will serve to boost his name ID and media presence significantly.  If he finishes below his 2007 total of 9.2%, then it means that the Ron Paul campaign must redouble its efforts.

Speaking from my personal circumstances, I do wonder if I’ll be given the chance to work for Dr. Paul as I did back in 2007/08.  Currently, I’m waiting to hear back regarding a handful of political opportunities, Paul’s campaign being among them.  Will Ames play a role in their decision?  Only time will tell.

Anyway, I encourage you to pay attention to the Ames straw poll.  It may or may not correctly forecast the winner, but either way it, along with the media spin to follow, should be fun to watch.

Is The New 93rd Winnable?

Back in 2009, then political novice Robin Abbott unseated the 21-year Republican incumbent Delegate Phil Hamilton of the 93rd district.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the two most important factors determining this outcome were the Old Dominion University scandal and the general Democratic leanings of the 93rd.

I’m not going to rehash the ODU matter here, but rather reexamine the claim that the old 93rd is generally hostile to Republican candidates.  First, we have the 2009 House of Delegates election itself, where Democrat Robin Abbott captured 53.94% of the vote as compared to Hamilton’s 45.6%.  Now obviously having served for 21 years, Hamilton had a clear name ID advantage to Abbott, but without further thought one may merely conclude that the result was completely due to hostility as a result of ODU.  But we should always look at the numbers.

In the 2009 election, the 93rd comprised the northwestern portions of Newport News as well as two eastern precincts of James City County.  While both James City County precincts were above Hamilton’s overall percentage (48.34% for Roberts A and 63.17% for Roberts B), he only won two precincts in Newport News (Deer Park 50.81% and Watkins 56.98).

How do these numbers compare to another contest at the same time, say the 2009 Governor’s race?  In Roberts A & B, McDonnell captured 57.42% and 72.85% of the vote respectively.  In 93rd portion of Newport News, he exceeded his statewide average of 58.61% in only one precinct, Watkins.

Looking back to 2008, how did McCain/Palin fare in the 93rd?  I should first mention that they won 46.33% of the vote in Virginia.  Only in Roberts B (68.23%) and Watkins (55.45%) did they get a higher margin than the statewide average.  Some precincts in Newport News, such as Epes (19.15%), Greenwood (23.42%), McIntosh (23.79%), Lee Hall (28.47) and Reservoir (31.76%), they didn’t even manage to get a third of the vote!  Given these numbers over the past several years, I think you can argue that the 93rd was not a friendly place for Republican candidates.

Well, how have things changed with redistricting?  This new 93rd has lost many precincts in Newport News while picking up about 12,500 James City County residents, about 14,000 Williamsburg residents, and about 5,300 York County residents.  Although the citizens of Williamsburg are more liberal than average Virginian, so too are James City County and York County residents considerably more conservative.

Let’s discover what was lost and gained in Newport News.  The precincts of Epes, Palmer, Deer Park, and Watkins were completely eliminated from the 93rd while Reservoir was split between the 93rd and 94th.  While the removal of Epes should be welcome news to Republican challengers, Palmer, Deer Park, and Watkins were Hamilton’s top three showings in the city.  Ouch!  In exchange, the 93rd picked up the Bland precinct.  However, that precinct performed well below average for Republican Delegate Glenn Oder in 2009 (48.12% to his typical 67.62%).  Losing Epes got rid of 7,800 people who typically don’t support Republicans, but shaving off 8,000 in Deer Park, 6,200 in Palmer, and 5,500 in Watkins who are far more favorable to the GOP will certainly sting.  Plus the new 1,400 people in Bland won’t likely be doing Republicans any favors.  I don’t think it is a stretch to say that it will be nearly impossible for a Republican to win a majority of these Newport News sections of the 93rd.  This exchange should significantly bolster Abbott’s numbers here in 2011.

What about Williamsburg?  Having lived in Williamsburg for four years while attending the College of William & Mary, I can personally tell you that the city is not particularly favorable to conservatives.  For example, in 2009 Stan Clark, the Republican delegate candidate, fared 4.5% poorer on average in Williamsburg than the rest of the district while Bob McDonnell posted numbers that were 13.4% below normal.  In 2008, McCain ended up almost 12% worse than his state average.  Gee, things don’t seem to look too good for Republican contenders do they?

Well, let’s move on to James City County and York County.  Unlike the cities, these areas contain a much higher percentage of Republican voters.  With the exception of the precincts of Roberts C and Jamestown B (although 2009 delegate candidate Clark did better there too), delegates, governors, and presidential candidates drew considerably more support from these new precincts of the 93rd than they enjoyed on average.  For the biggest example, in the Harwoods Mill precinct, now split between the 93rd and 91st, McDonnell got a 17.85% boost and McCain got a 22.19% increase from the norm.

So what’s the bottom line?  Well, in this new 93rd Republicans will suffer greatly for the additions and subtractions in Newport News, not to mention the addition of Williamsburg.  The influx of voters from James City County and especially York County will help a lot, but will they be enough to offset the Democratic swing of the cities?  Possibly.  For comparison purposes, Bob McDonnell won about 52% of the vote in the old 93rd and would have won about 54% in this new one.  Although both numbers are below his state average, the fact remains that he emerged victorious in either scenario.

This year, Republican businessman Mike Watson is challenging Democratic freshman Delegate Robin Abbott.  This race will hinge on a number of factors besides just the numbers listed above.  Has Abbott done a good job reaching out to her constituents?  Are they pleased, upset, or apathetic with her performance in the House?  Has she bolstered her name ID?  What sort of connections can Watson draw upon in the 93rd?  And which side will have the greater number of volunteers and a motivated base?

Given my connection with Williamsburg and my employment in the 93rd during the last cycle, you can bet that I’ll be keeping my eye on this race.  Now in fairness whether Robin Abbott is retained or replaced in the House of Delegates, either outcome will have little impact in the balance of power in that chamber.  Nevertheless, I expect liberal and conservative activists from Williamsburg, James City, Newport News, and York will have their hands full with this one.

I’d rate the 93rd a toss up right now.  The numbers slightly favor the Republicans but the incumbency factor boosts the Democrats.  Either side has the potential to win; I just don’t think that it’ll be easy for anyone.