Ok, now the most difficult, technical post to report on following Tuesday’s elections. These are my 2-cents, but I’d like to hear what you think. What do you think of the 2010 elections in WV? Leave us a note in the comments.
I think it is safe to say that West Virginia may be the trailing edge of whatever “tsunami” hit the rest of the country on Tuesday. Only 1 of 3 Congressional seats flipped. The Senate seat remained within the same party with a new senator whose commitment to social values is spotty. The state legislature saw some gains in the house, but some losses in the senate. So, what are we to make of it all?
First, it is clear that the liberal coalition did a much better job of voter turnout than the conservative coalition did. Of course that boils down primarily to the influence of the unions. (Note: anyone who said that the Citizens United case would drown this race in corporate money must not have meant WV. Unions clearly outspent any company. And defeated Democrats, evidently, outspent – by $35 MILLION – in their loss to their challengers. Not that I mind, necessarily, just an interesting point.)
The blame for this probably lies at the feet of the republican party more than anywhere else, though I don’t mean to criticize them or praise the democratic party either. It’s just that one had a better coalition than the other. But it seems pretty clear that the GOP assumed their base would turn out so they didn’t really bother focusing on voter turnout. As a result,WV3 went back to the incumbent.
Reviewing the numbers, it makes sense. It wasn’t the so-called, “soft-democrats” who failed to turn out, it was conservative republicans. In some southern WV counties, Raese and Maynard received more democratic votes than they did GOP votes! If you compare 2004 (when a major GOP push was underway to turnout their base) numbers to 2010, you see that – even though the margin of victory was significantly lower in 2010, more than 12,000 conservative voters turned out in 2004. Make that happen in 2010 and Rahall is likely defeated.
And, note that this wasn’t an issue of voter education. More voter’s guides or legislative scorecards or TV commercials, radio ads, viral videos, or anything would not have made a major difference. Projects that motivated voters to the polls were what would have made the difference.
About Jeremy Dys
Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.