Saturday, May 27, 2006

Democrat May Win 50th District -- According to Democrats

Saturday, the Potomac News ran a column on the 50th district race, titled "Democrats eye 50th District" online, but "Democrats may win 50th district" in the newspaper.

The article quotes and uses information from four people named in the article:

  1. Amy Reger, executive director, Democratic Party of Virginia
  2. Joshua Scott, program director, UVA Center for Politics
  3. EJ Scott, Manassas City Democratic Committee chairwoman
  4. Stephen J. Farnsworth, associate professor of political science, University of Mary Washington
Amy and EJ are both certain the democrats can win this seat:

But does the party stand a chance in the 50th District, which is a traditional Republican electorate?

"Absolutely," said Amy Reger
"I think this area has changed considerably," said EJ Scott, the Manassas City Democratic Committee chairwoman. "I think we've been seeing a shift. We believe it's going to continue."

Joshua Scott was skeptical, noting the "special election" is scheduled for a regular election day:

You're going to see a higher turn out, certainly than you would have during a special election," said Joshua Scott, the program director for the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

When you have someone like George Allen at the top of the ticket drawing higher turn out, one would assume that would help Republican candidates."

Farnsworth was busy giving the democrats political advice:

The Republican Party has just gone through this massive internal fight over transportation, with the Senate on one side and the House on the other," Farnsworth said. "The Democrats would also be wise to exploit the Republicans' inability to reach an agreement on transportation."
"Last November, Tim Kaine demonstrated that transportation could be a winning hand in Northern Virginia," he said. "The best strategy for a Democrat is to play those same cards a year later."

The reporter does her part, painting last year's election in a light most favorable to the democrats:

In the 2005 gubernatorial election, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, won Prince William and Loudon counties, a feat his Democratic predecessor, Mark R. Warner, was unable to achieve. Kaine also won one of the largest precincts in Manassas City.

The reporter obviously has precinct-level information, and could easily have totaled up the results for the entire 50th district, which would have shown a handy Kilgore victory in the district -- so instead the reporter uses county-wide results for PW and Loudoun counties, even though only few republican-dominated precincts in PW are in the 50th district, and NO Loudoun precincts are in the district. The reporter ignores manassas park altogether, and uses "one of the largest precincts" for Manassas rather than noting that overall Manassas is a largely republican city.

The reporter asserts without evidence that: "Del. Parrish was a widely popular legislator who held moderate views", when in fact, other than a few votes, the most obvious being the tax increase, Parrish consistantly voted with more conservative members.

But this "moderate" label allows J. Scott to make this assertion, again with no evidence:

"That's the opportunity for the Democratic candidate," Joshua Scott said. "The moderate voters who aligned themselves with Harry Parrish, many of them who voted for Tim Kaine in the fall and are frustrated with Bush."

There is no evidence that "many" Parrish voters last november voted for Kaine. And it's always nice to get a gratuitous shot at the President, who will have little effect in November. Don't take my word for it, listend to Joshua, who brought it up in the first place:

But it is doubtful that President George Bush's record low approval ratings could affect state or congressional elections.

It's one of the factors that goes into people's decision making process," Joshua Scott said. "How many people in Manassas are going to go into the voting booth and pull the lever for George Allen and the Democratic candidate for the House seat? People aren't likely to split their votes in that sense."

Meanwhile, Farnsworth knows the truth, and can't deliberately mis-state the facts -- after all, he is a professor. So we get this piece of "tell the truth and then obfuscate it with opinion":

"The best candidates are candidates who have prior political experience," Farnsworth said. "They may have worked as a municipal official or county official."

Oops. The only democrat in the race has never held any public office, and few know her name. So, how does she have a chance?:

"If you don't have name recognition going in, you can always buy it," Farnsworth said. "What I think any Northern Virginia Democratic candidate would be wise to do is to call up Mark Warner, call up Tim Kaine and help them raise money."

I think he meant "TO help the candidate raise money", not for the candidate to help Mark and Tim raise money. But note how deftly Farnsworth brushes aside the "experience" he just said was critical, and replaced it with "name recognition".
Farnsworth conclued with yet another assertion without evidence:

There are a lot of indications that Democrats are going to benefit from a dispirited Republican electorate," Farnsworth said. "This could be a very interesting fall."

And what did the republicans think about this? How would we know, the reporter didn't seem to find any republicans to talk to. Heck, she didn't even get Larry Sabato's opinion :->


NoVA Scout said...

I suppose it's not impossible, but I think they were counting on Chapman either running or, second best for them, contributing to a divisive GOP selection process. Without that, the seat should hold Republican with little drama. If Miller or Weimer can't hold it, the demographic ice age for Republicans has advanced much farther much faster than even the more pessimistic among us had thought.

James Young said...

This is one of the more idiotic stories I've seen in a paper becoming ever more idiotic, present company excepted, of course.

Anonymous said...

Democrats may win a lot of races they normally lose. The idiotic actions of people like Warner have turned me totally against him. I will vote for his opponent, not matter who it is.