Sunday, June 8, 2008

The 80/80 Solution: Northern Virginia

The time has come when we must begin to shift ourselves from the very present reality of our lives here in Chesterfield County and understand that the very basis of what many of us find as negative impacts regarding our quality of life are not only being influenced by a local Board of Supervisors caught in the nets of the past, a General Assembly that continues to be unable to solve many of our basic road and infrastructure needs, but also the influence of the powers of political regionalism within this Great Commonwealth.

This politicial regionalism has not only influenced the make-up of our General Assembly, and rightfully so I might add, but also influences our Congressional delegation and of course the Office of the President.

I address the 80/80 Solution proposed by Arlington County Democrats as an example of a community set on increasing participation in the process and duty of citizenship. It should be all of our duty to endeavor to participate in every election. Yes every. When voter turnout tops out at 30% in local races it creates a reality that the County leadership is really on interested in serving that percentage while the other seventy pays little attention to County affairs. In the end we get the same return on our investment; not much. The 80/80 solution is an attempt to raise the level of voter turnout in the upcoming 2008 elections for Senate and President and influence the Statewide popular votes for each race.

What is the goal? The goal for Arlington County Democrats is to increase the voter turnout level to 80% of the registered/eligible voters and have 80% of the total votes cast endorsing Barack Obama and Mark Warner. To be sure, Arlington is already a very Democrat orientated community and some would argue the most liberal in the entire Commonwealth.

In 2006, Arlington cast 56% of its eligible voter population which is about 130 thousand. In the 2008 Democrat Primary some 27 thousand votes were cast for Obama and 16 thousand for Clinton while only about 8 or so thousand votes were cast in total in the Republican Primary. Obama would win 62% of the vote, about as much as he won the entire State, in the Arlington Democrat Primary.

So how does this 80/80 Solution relate to Chesterfield?

Here in Chesterfield we have about 186 thousand eligible voters and usually have a turnout of about 56-58%. This rate is at the higher levels of most Virginia localities. Henrico County has 175 thousand and comes in with a turnout of about 58% as in 2006. Much of these areas are part of the 7th Congressional or 4th Congressional Districts. The realtionship between Arlington and Chesterfield is that historically they have represented two different political realities.

Why does this matter?

In the Chesterfield Democrat Primary as many Democrats voted for Obama as in Arlington. In fact he received 71% of the vote in the Chesterfield Democrat Primay with just under 40 thousand votes cast total in the entire Primary. Clinton ran second. The Republican Primary had around 23 thousand votes cast total in the Primary to Arlington's roughly 8 thousand votes cast in their Republican Primary. This is a testament to the campaign environment given this season because historically turnout for Democrats in Chesterfield has been much lower than this level. However, it is also a fact many Chesterfield Republicans stayed home on Primary day if you simply look at the 2006 data for those voting for George Allen in his effort against Sen. Jim Webb. In 2006, some 104 thousand voters entered the polls.

The 80/80 Solution presents a greater problem or at least a very negative dynamic on Chesterfield. It is no secret that Virginia is changing. We have experienced a bit of that here on the local level as well in last Fall's Supervisor races. However, when we are talking about State policy, a policy which will influence such things as transportation, environment, gasoline tax and impact fee policy, the influence of Northern Virginia on policy continues to grow.

There are some 600 thousand eligible voters in Fairfax County alone. Arlington has about 130 thousand and Loudoun (my birthplace) now has 152 thousand. Fairfax County eclipses Chesterfield, Henrico, Hanover, Powhatan and the City altogther based on 2006 election data.
If you were to get 80% of those voters to vote and 80% happened to vote Democrat we will see Virginia become a Democrat State in the Electoral College for many years to come, two Democrat Senators elected repeatedly and a continued Democrat as Governor.

Of course this is the goal. This is the foundation of the movement in Northern Virginia. It has become its own region, literally. Politically it does not seem to mirror any other region in the State. It will endeavor to control the purse strings of the General Assembly in terms of infleunce. It will play the role of gatekeeper of the Electoral College and Senate races as well based strictly on population data and if they can mobilze such a voter turnout.

The political will of other regions and localities could and very may just become politically subservient to the infleunce of a strongly liberal Northern Virginia. In fact, with the retiring of Tom Davis (R) that Congressional seat will most likely be in the hands of either Gerry Connolly or Leslie Byrne by November. Mark Warner can concentrate on Northern Virginia and Barack Obama was just there last week for visists. Locking up this area can deliver the entire State to these men and they know it.


Because you cannot win the Virginia electoral college without winning Northern Virginia. You cannot win the Senate race without winning Northern Virginia either and you will not win the Executive Mansion here in the Commonwealth without Northern Virginia in hand.

Why? The constituents in Northern Virginia are more politically active and angry. In Arlington they sleep a stones throw away from a President and government they hate passionately. I know that sounds rather critical but the reality is it comes down to that, otherwise everything in the blogoshere would not be premising John McCain on being a third Bush term. Nicely done strategy wise, but factually ignorant or at the very least naive. I will follow that line another time. 2/3 of all politcial blogs in Virginia are located in Northern Virginia.

So, Chesterfield if you want to have your future in the hands of another region and you prefer to have those leaders from those localities have overwhelming influence on the entire political structure of the Commonwealth then citizens must endeavor like those in Arlington to get the vote out; to participate, to not sit idly by as we watch our transportation funding dwindle fro Richmond. If the power lies with those localities in Richmond, you can bet it is those localities which will get the lions share of funding from the State budget.

We must determine to make sure that our voices are heard and that we protect our quality of life in Chesterfield regardless of Party, but by making our votes count each an every election and work to get those who would secure our future quality and that of our children, especially our children's schools, to get elected to office at all levels.

Just as in Arlington, now is not the time for apathy but a time for action. Our County continues to grow and if we want to maintain the charm that has always been Chesterfield we must elevate our community involvement. fact is, most of us shy away many times from public politics---its a trait of most conservatives anyway--but while we sit idlely by things are changing.

I grew up in Loudoun County in my early youth and was born in Fairfax County. I have been here in Chesterfield for almost thirty years and I can tell you that Loudoun and Fairfax are not the places they were when I was a child and I can tell you the last thing we want for Chesterfield is have those areas be the models of our future.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad to see someone else is noticing that the will of Virginia seems to be going the way of Northern Virginia.

I would include Stafford and Prince William County along with Arlington, Alexandrai, Fairfax and Loudoun. Some would also include Facquier County as well lumped in with the others.

The numbers there are incredible and they can lock up the State by supporting a candidate for Senate or Governor in mass. The will in Richmond is also being flexed and they are positioning themselves for controlling the dollars allocated for such things as transportation and now of course the debated light rail or metro for Tysons Corner.

It has only been recently over the Wise County power plant that Kaine has wandered off the reservation from the base of which that has supported him from liberal Northern Virginia.

If they get an 80% turnout, the rest of the State might as well simply just bend over.