The Real Reasons Republicans Lost Virginia

Following the Virginia election debacle last Tuesday, Republican voters in the Old Dominion might feel tempted to despair of dreaming about a red Virginia ever again. Many seem disposed to wait out President Trump’s term under the impression that Republicans cannot win under Trump. However, the Virginia Republican Party failed to field viable candidates, use the political resources available to them, or articulate any sort of stance on electoral issues. Democrats did not win Virginia, nor did a massive turn in national sentiment doom the Republican Party; the Virginia State GOP ruined its own chances.

Perhaps most startling, the Virginia Republican Party failed to run candidates in ten out of forty (the 1st, 2nd, 18th, 29th, 30th, 31st, 34th, 35th, 36th, and 37th), fully one-quarter of Virginia senatorial races.  In contrast, the Democrats contested all races but one, the 23rd district.  A party cannot win elections without candidates.

The Republican Party also failed to contest twenty-three out of one hundred delegate races (the 11th, 32nd, 35th, 36th, 37th, 38th, 45th, 46th, 47th, 48th, 53rd, 57th, 67th, 69th, 70th, 74th, 77th, 79th, 86th, 89th, 90th, 92nd, and 95th districts), again about one-fourth.  While the Republican Party lost nearly a quarter of the House of Delegates seats by default, the Democrats contested all but seven races (the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 9th, 17th, 19th, and 78th districts).

It also looks like the Republicans did not contest races in certain districts with unfavorable minority majority demographics. That sort of worn-out, defeatist thinking has to stop.  The Republicans ran Darrell H. “D.J.” Jordan Jr. in the 31st Delegate district and Garrison R. Coward in the 68th Delegate district. Both are great candidates and also minorities. Jordan lost by just six points (1,500 votes). Coward lost by ten points (3,900 votes). Jordan should have won and both will win in the future.  Though Republicans have always had minorities in office, conservatism and a Trump economy that is spreading prosperity to minorities is attracting them to the Party of Lincoln in droves once again.  President Trump and the Republican Party have done a fine job of welcoming minorities into their fold.  The State Republican Party must recruit candidates to run in those districts which the Democrat party thinks that they own.  What exactly have the Democrats done for minorities over the past fifty years?  Trump’s policies have achieved a record low unemployment for African-Americans (5.5%), Hispanics (3.9%), Asian Americans (2.5%), and adult women (3.1%). 

The GOP played to not lose rather than to win.  Defense never wins elections.  In the Richmond area, most of the Republican political ads stressed that the Republicans only had a one-seat majority in both houses and begged the voters to please help them to keep the evil, socialist Democrats out of power.  Notwithstanding the pro-after-birth abortion (killing live birth babies at the mother’s whim) stances and socialistic tendencies of the Democrats, Republican ads stressed very few solid reasons to vote for the Republican candidates.  One incumbent Republican senator’s ad rambled on in an ominous voice about the wrongs of his opponent and then stated that he, in contrast, was for “sensible” gun control and the pouring of more money into the schools as the only way to improve them.  One had to search the internet to see if he was a Republican.  He should have at least lobbied for increased school funding tied to school choice of parents, thus not pouring more money into the pockets of teachers’ unions bent on destroying Republican candidates.  Which brings up the next point.

No one is quite sure what the Republican Party stands for in Virginia, nor does a visit to the Virginia Republican website remove any ambiguity.  A voter visiting the website and trying to find the Virginia GOP’s positions on important issues to the party, issues which are supposed to be helping voters with their problems, finds merely the Virginia Republican creed and a petition to stop the impeachment silliness targeting President Trump.  Granted, the impeachment silliness should be stopped so that President Trump can do his job, but the site does not even provide any reasoning on the issue.  Without clearly articulating the reasons for moving on from the impeachment controversy, how does this placing of the “important” issue at the top of the page help any prospective voter or Republican candidate?

In addition, the Virginia Republican party website is formatted poorly.  Anyone over the age of 35 can almost hear the screeching of modems in the background when they look at it.  It has a 1998 “You’ve Got Mail” feel to it.  It does not impress.  If the website were to be understood, there are only three Republican leaders in the state. 

Most candidates attempted to distance themselves from the current Republican president, and the state party failed to showcase him in any way.  President Trump owns property in Virginia.  He works right next door.  A couple of rallies would have helped.  Yeah, Trump rallies might have pulled more Democrats in Northern Virginia to the polls, but this was not a statewide election.   The rallies would have stimulated the Republican base in most of the other districts and hence, more wins!  According to the Washington Post, Republicans actually had about forty thousand more voters come out than the Democrats.  That portends well for both the present and the future. With more candidates running, that number could have easily gone up to a hundred thousand more voters and maybe pulled the 10th and 13th Senate district races over their five and four percent thresholds.  Seven of the eleven close Delegate races (the 10th, 28th, 31st, 40th, 50th, 72nd, 73rd, 75th, and 85th) all lost by swings of three percent or less.  The 27th and 83rd delegate races finished close to a tie, indicating that Republicans could easily, and decidedly, have won them merely by bringing out a few hundred more voters.

Republicans were outspent, but it is hard to raise money and manpower when the party does not have a clear direction and does not play to win.  People do not come out to vote so that politicians can keep their jobs.  They come out to vote for candidates who are going to help them with their problems.  Though volunteers on Election Day are greatly appreciated, reports from around the state indicate that most seemed unenthusiastic.

Virginia is not a lost cause for Republicans despite the northern and Richmond suburbs.  If more Democrats had been forced to defend their own seats and spend money on their own campaigns instead of helping other candidates, then more races would have gone to the Republicans.  If the Republicans had found the issues that both matter to voters and line up with the Virginia Republican Creed and culture, and had promoted these to the voters, then more Republicans would have easily won.  If Republicans recruit more good candidates like Darrell H. “D.J.” Jordan Jr. and Garrison R. Coward to run in minority districts, winning gets a lot easier as Republicans and minorities fuse their destinies together again.  If the VAGOP had worked with President Trump, more races could have been won.  All these “ifs” and “might-have-beens” can be summarized in a single maxim: to achieve victory one must first seek victory, and to seek victory one must first define victory.  There is great hope if the Republicans can first define victory, then seek it, and then work for it. Then they will enjoy the victory of serving the people. 

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