Friday, November 13, 2009

Virginia Slims

Widgerson's got a piece up arguing that this year's Virginia gubernatorial race could be harbinger of things to come in Wisconsin. It's a bit hard to swallow.

For starters, no Democrat will run the kind of campaign the Creigh Deeds ran next year. The Deeds' game plan was damning from the start and he never adjusted. I actually anticipate both sides running on substantive issues like jobs and spending while foregoing the culture war garbage.

Demographically and culturally, Virginia is nothing like Wisconsin. There's been a lot of talk about Virginia becoming a swing state lately, but it is still very much a proud member of the Old South. VA may be trending blue but Democrats aren't exactly welcome in places like Lynchberg yet.

VA has about 2 million people more people than Wisco, an African-American population of almost 20% and a Latino pop. around 6.5%. The entire minority population of Wisconsin is only about 8.5%, so a significant decline in minority turnout will not impact Wisconsin tallies as dramatically as it did in VA. Widgerson's correct when he says the minority vote is important to Wisconsin Democrats, but in Virginia it's essential. There will be a drop off in minority turnout next year, especially when compared to last year, but in Wisconsin this drop-off can be absorbed far more easily by picking up votes in non-minority area (which is pretty much anywhere outside of MKE).

Walker needs to compete in those areas too. If he thinks this election is going to be won in Southeast Wisconsin, he's in for a world of hurt:
Barrett’s likely opponent, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, has already been building a base in Milwaukee County. Walker’s fight with the Milwaukee County Board over the budget has been a boost to his organizing efforts.
There a two ways of reading this and I'm not sure which one Widgerson is talking about here. If Walker is building "his base" -- i.e. his numero uno base -- in Milwaukee, he's a dead man in the rest of the state. But if Widgerson is talking about one of many bases and a general attempt to reach out to conservatives across the state, then that's different story.

We've talked about Walker having inflated expectations in Milwaukee County. Chances are, most people in SE Wisconsin have already made up their minds about Walker. There's little doubt that he will run up the score in Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties, but that might still not be enough to off set any gains a Dem makes in Milwaukee. If Walker does manage a split in MKE it will be an indication of a poorly run Democratic campaign and be part of a tidal wave of support from across the state.

Virginia is also an entirely different world economically. It has lower unemployment, a growing tech corridor, tons of federal government jobs and a more affluent population (on average). Those factors tend to change voters' priorities.

20+ point victories in open races are typically outliers and Wisconsin voters deeply don't give a shit about what voters in Virginia do. There are certainly lessons to be learned from Virginia, but we have little doubt that results will carry absolutely no weight in Barrett's decision to run for Governor.

One thing that certainly won't happen is this:
Despite Obama won Wisconsin by fourteen points last year by the margin of 56 to 42 percent, there could be the possibility of the same swing happening in favor of Scott Walker like Virginia Republicans had this year. A larger swing could happen in favor of Wisconsin Republicans that could exceed 30 points or more counting in last year’s result and a possible double digit victory for Scott Walker.
I sincerely hope Kyle Maichle is not trying to say that because Virginia was such an overwhelming victory for Republicans, Scott Walker could win with 70% or more of Wisconsin. That would require a Democratic candidate of truly astonishing incompetence. What happens in Wisconsin next year will be the result of events that occur in Wisconsin over the next 12 months. End of story.


Anonymous said...

What I meant of a thirty point swing Chief is taking the 14 points Obama won by in Wisconsin last year and adding in the hypothetical situation that Walker wins by sixteen points. Walker does not need to win seventy percent of the vote for a thirty point swing to happen.

McDonnell had a twenty-five point swing for two reasons.

1. Obama wins by 7 in Virginia last year.
2. McDonnell turns it around in 2009 winning by 18 points to equal a twenty-five point swing.

I hope you know how swing is calculated in politics by explaining this to you.

Alex said...

What's funny is that geographically at least, what Walker is trying to do in Wisconsin is exactly what Deeds tried to do in Virginia (run a guy who is from the home base of the opposite party). Didn't work.

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