A Washington Post report on this past week’s election in Virginia pointed out that the Republican Party is grappling with how to stem the flow of previously reliable voters who are turning their backs on them and either voting for Democrats or staying home and sitting out elections.
As the report notes, “A GOP candidate hasn’t won statewide office in Virginia since 2009. On Tuesday, Democrats gained majorities in both houses of the General Assembly for the first time in a generation; the House of Delegates swung from a 66-34 Republican edge in 2017 to a 55-45 Democratic advantage for next year’s session.”
Republican campaign manager Daniella Propati watched as her candidate for the House of Delegates, GayDonna Vandergriff, lost despite running on a campaign accusing her opponent of “socialism” which apparently made no impact on voters.
“Republicans — we’ve been running campaigns in Virginia the same way for 20 years,” Propati said. “We need to come together and say, ‘What do we need to do next time?’ ”
“That’s a question Republicans around the country are wrestling with after Tuesday’s elections revealed new troubles in suburbs from Memphis to Philadelphia. Nowhere has the problem been more pronounced than in Virginia, where Republicans have been all but wiped from power in the past decade,” The Post reports, adding, “In presidential elections, Virginia has moved so swiftly to the left in recent contests that it barely paused to be a swing state.”
According to election and demographics expert Ruy Teixeira, the GOP has a serious reason to be alarmed.
“This is the nightmare scenario for a lot of people in the Republican Party,” he explained. “Virginia is an example of a possible future for some of the states that are now part of the Republican coalition.”
Former congressman Tom Davis (R-VA) agreed as he watched the district he once represented also fall to the Democrats.
“It ought to be a concern everywhere,” he told the Post. “These demographic changes are happening everywhere. They are not unique to Virginia.”
Noting that “the suburbs have undergone a metamorphosis in recent years — growing more socially liberal, more diverse, less interested in the red meat of the tea party and Donald Trump,” the Post points out the Virginia scenario looks to be playing out in other states like Arizona — previously thought to be solidly Republican — and Colorado which has wavered back and forth.
“We need candidates who can run strong campaigns with a conservative agenda that actually people are attracted to and not repelled by,” explained Dick Wadhams, the former state party chair in Colorado. “That may sound trite, but I’d swear sometimes people act like they have never heard such a thing.”
“No doubt about it, Republicans have a suburban problem. Anyone who looks at the data can see that,” added Austin Chambers, head of the Republican State Leadership Committee. “I don’t think you have to moderate your politics and beliefs in politics to win in the suburbs, you just need to do a much better job communicating.”
According to former Republican lieutenant governor Bill Bolling of Virginia, the GOP has “moved farther and farther to the right, and become more rigid and vitriolic in its ideology and rhetoric.”
“The GOP is simply out of touch with suburban voters who now control the outcome of critical elections,” Bolling wrote on Facebook.
You can read more here.
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This article first appeared in Salon
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