Friday, August 22, 2008

Virginia Independents Moving Toward McCain

It was great to catch up with many folks I had not seen since the 2006 Election cycle. WOW. What a difference two years makes. Many of the same folks that canvassed for Jim Webb back in 2006 expressed the same level of committment for Sen. John McCain at the cookout. There still remained a few Hillary Clinton holdouts and it will be interesting to see what happens after the Veepstakes comes to an end. Frankly, I am quite over that process and the the whole tease brought about by the Obama campaign in an effort to increase the excitement. Trouble is the longer you play such games, the greater your chances of raising the level of anticipation so high that you never meet the expectations that are generated by such tactics. Unless of course, Obama goes the way of Hillary Clinton.

That would be rather exciting from a purely political perspective and would basically place a large whoopie pie in the face of the progessive community who since the nomination process was locked up have done everything to bash and remove Clinton supporters from the current dialogue (See "Big Tent" post).

Raising (Hussein) Kaine was a topic often discussed and I was sure to remind forlks that the main man behind the curtain at RK, Lowell Feld, endorsed and supported Sen. John McCain in 2000 in the Republican Primary over Bush and now oversees a community determined on laying waste on his 20+ years of service. They also have managed to create such a divide with Clinton supporters that its almost comical when they always portray it as our State GOP that is in so much trouble.

With regard to Hillary, should Obama decide to cave it may demonstrate that is afterall "politics" as usual and as the 2006 elected Congress has demonstrated there is a true inability for career politicians to "change" anything. If Obama places the VP slot in the hands of Hillary Clinton no matter how qualified he undermines his entire year-long rhetorical campaign regarding change. How? Simple. Obama allowed his campaign to shape the dialogue in the Primary to such a level of diviseness between the camps that to move backward is political suicide based on how his camp ran the rhetoric against Clinton to win the nomination in the first place. Too much "change" speak appears now to have boxed in the campaign in my view, but hey anything can happen.

Anything? Yes. Anything. The last two years I have witnessed a shift with Independents that is not showing up in polls. A poll should be done in Virginia concerning those that supported Jim Webb in his bid for Senate and where they stand in the Presidential election.

It was Independents or in the case of Central Virginia; Republicrats, who delivered Jim Webb the election. There were more than a few Republicans who broke ranks and supported Webb as well over George Allen. It was here that there began a small backlash against the social conservatives in the State GOP by those Republicans who are more moderate on social issues and stronger fiscal conservatives. The problem for the Democrats here in Virginia is they will not, so far it seems, be able to capatilize on these folks against McCain. They are overwhelmingly expressing support for McCain. Why? Well I do not think as things go that Jim Webb at the time was ever really considered to be a liberal. Many felt, as did I, he would be more like John Warner on national security and foriegn policy (okay save Iraq) but work as well to fix our veteran issues or at least rings some alarms as to there neglect. The same Republicans across Virginia that supported Mark Warner in years past found it easy to support Webb. Obama not so much.

Many who canvassed strongly entrenched Republican communities in Chesterfield and Henrico for Webb are now signing up as volunteers at the McCain Victory HQ as well as simply organizing as a neighboorhood contact. This is what was the most effective piece in 2006. It was easier to gte information or signs and such from someone within the neighboorhood than going down to a campaign office. Given the option, who really wants to take the time to go down to the office if they do not have to.

The number of folks and the perception of the campaigns has dramatically changed since May when we last got together. At that time there was virtually little enthusiasm for McCain, though there was support. Over the summer, something has certainly changed. The Romney supporters, I liked Mitt alot by the way, have solidly moved into the McCain camp and embraced the campaign and many who were supporting Clinton have as well though not all of course. Talk of the potential Tim Kaine running mate scenario has not seemed to helped Obama in Virginia with Independents. I think if Obama were serious about wanting to make inroads to Independents in Virginia Mark warner would have been better or to a lessor extent maybe Webb. Webb though has the baggage of a do-nothing Congress that many here are absolutely furious about. Liberals are underestimating this impact and the Energy issue has drawn this line in the sand for many Virginians as well as Amercians. Had Obama wanted to really influence and shake things up given the fact Pelosi and Reid control Congress; had he stepped up and demanded a resolution from the Congress and LEAD FROM THE FRONT things may not be where they are today.

It is easy to make the popular determinations but true leadership comes from those who take control of the issue and break from the constraints of Party and demand action. Think of the milage (no pun) Obama would have gotten had he molded this debate over Energy differently, but when you pander to the left for a year or so its fair to say that such notions are very hard indeed.

Independents drive on the issues: Canvassing recommendations on the following:
Tax-Policy/Economy ( renewal of tax cuts and no increases in taxes or capital gains)
**spending in Washington needs true fiscal conservatism
Energy Independence
Social Security resolution---why the Democrats are not talking about this issue
Heathcare (5,000 tax deduction to offset healthcare choice options; no government run program-remind folks of the old airline industry before deregulation and public schools as examples of government run entities)
National Security-- foriegn and domestic; focus on Russia/Georgia, agreements with Poland missile defense

The biggest surprise was how Iraq in May went from being a major issue with folks to basically not even making the discussion. I think people generally feel we are closer to the end and will be withdrawing over the next few years and with KIA's at lowest levels it has become less of a touch button issue than in 2006 or earlier this year.

The feedback I am getting from other parts is basiclaly the same as ours here locally and for that reason I do not believe that Obama will secure the majority of the Independents in November from Virginia. I am not implying that there is some sort of revolving door with the GOP but most of the new Independents certainly have come from GOP roots and though they have reached a level of discontent with the Party on various issues, it appears as though they intend on supporting McCain over Obama for sure but would not be surprised if those same folks voted Warner over Gilmore in the Virginia Senate race.

That just appears to be how we roll in the Commonwealth. Virginians are critical and analyze the issues in depth. I think that is why we have some of the best moderate Democrats in the entire country as well as some of the best Republicans. Those who see themselves as Virginia Independents seem to like to embrace the best of both camps with conviction.


Hanover Republicrat said...

I tend to see the same thing here in Hanover. While both this area and yours over in Chesterfield will certainly go for McCain my guess is we will see Mark Warner draw about even with Jim Gilmore.

The optimistic balloon of the Obama campaign has been popped by the realities of his inexperience before a candidate such as John McCain. While I see a bounce out of the convention next week, I do not see Obama maintaining any sustained lead going into November.

I susp[ect that by the end of the GOP convention, McCain will be up in Virginia as well eventhough we are still considered a big "toss-up" State; largely due to Warner's race. I agree they are overstating the numbers that will support both Warner and Obama in the Independent lines come November.

Anonymous said...

Though it may be an over simplification I think there are many voters out there that will cast a vote for Mark warner and then vote for Senator McCain as well.

The Va GOP has cowtowed to the overly social conservative, pro-life groups over the past years and Giolmore should have never been chosen over moderate Tom Davis knowing they would be facing Warner.

The growing ranks of Independents in Virginia is more a direct result of the rejection of the social conservatives than an endorsement of the liberal agenda of the Democrats.

Anonymous said...

Senator Biden will not help swing votes to Obama in Virginia. Some of the more passionate Clinton supporters are in NOVA and based on the bloggers up there there is no love in the air for Obama let alone now that he has opted for Biden as his Veep.

The point regarding the change election has come full circle. The nod to Biden proves Obama can not compete with McCain's level of experience and is a demonstration as to the lack of real confidence he really has in his own leadership abilities.

NOVA Democrats probably will rejoice it was not Kaine as it would have delivered VA back the the GOP for sure.