In the days leading up to the November 6th elections, predicting the outcome of the presidential seemed a bit murkier than one would expect. A few polls, like Gallup, had Mitt Romney ahead, while others, like Rasmussen, showed a very close race, and some, like Huffington, heralded another strong victory for President Obama. It seemed to me that a lot of news outlets reported on the outcome that they hoped would occur rather than what would actually happen; Republican pundits predicted a solid Romney victory and their Democratic counterparts made similar claims. Fellow Republicans were critical, but in 2008 I wrote about Barack Obama’s victory on the day prior to Election Day, as I believed the results were already a foregone conclusion. However, I wasn’t quite as certain this time around.
In the end, however, Mitt Romney stood no chance of becoming our next President. In the electoral count, he faired only slightly better than John McCain did in 2008. He won the tradition Republican states of North Carolina and Indiana unlike McCain, but failed to capture key battlegrounds like Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, and Florida. Curiously, both Romney and Obama failed to garner as many votes as the candidates did in 2008. It seems obvious that Obama’s numbers would decline as his presidency has not been particularly popular and the great excitement (or novelty) generated from electing our first black president in 2008 is gone. But what about Romney? Although some activists have been urging people to resist resorting to the “blame game”, ultimately I believe that voters had a hard time supporting a rich New England liberal who had difficulty relating to the plight of the average American. In addition, the actions taken by the RNC and the Romney campaign, which can only be described as unnecessary and spiteful, to exclude Ron Paul and his supporters at the Tampa convention tore open the growing rift in the Republican Party between the establishment and the liberty movement. As stated earlier, a majority of Paul supporters I know either voted for Gary Johnson, wrote in Ron Paul, or simply stayed home on Election Day. Speaking of the other party candidates, Libertarian Gary Johnson finished in third with almost 1%, Green Jill Stein was fourth with .35%, and Virgil Goode was fifth with .1%.
Moving on to Virginia’s U.S. Senate contest, as we approached Election Day it became increasingly obvious that George Allen would lose to Tim Kaine. The conventional wisdom was that an Allen victory hinged heavily upon Romney’s coattails. If Romney won Virginia by a large margin, then it was likely that Allen would also be victorious. However, if the election was close or if Romney lost the state, Allen would be defeated. Although the crossover wouldn’t have influenced the outcome, it is still important to note that Romney had the support of 37,766 more Virginians than did George Allen.
The House races in Virginia were not particularly exciting. Each incumbent won re-election with a comfortable margin with the exception of Scott Rigell in the 2nd who won by 24,000 votes. In the 6th, Republican Bob Goodlatte easily dispatched Democrat Andy Schmookler. However, Schmookler did best Goodlatte in the more urban areas of the district, capturing the cities of Harrisonburg, Lexington, and Roanoke, and boasting a fairly close contest in Staunton.
Given that Harrisonburg voted Democratic for president, senator, and representative, it should come as no surprise that the Democrats faired well in the city council election. With eight candidates on the ballot, three Republican, three Democratic, and three independent, Democrats Kai Degner and Richard Baugh were re-elected along with newcomer independent Abe Shearer. Only Degner and Shearer cracked the 6,000-vote mark. All but one of the other candidates was in the 4,000-vote range; Roger Baker finished in last place with less than 2,500 votes. Political newcomer Christine Johnson finished at the top of the Republican office seekers, missing out on third place by only 202 votes.
So what does the future hold politically for Harrisonburg, the 6th congressional district, Virginia, and the nation as a whole? Well, it depends on a number of factors including the strength of the candidates and the overall political climate. Will the GOP learn anything from the 2012 elections? It is obvious that they didn’t figure anything out from 2008. Without strong conservative candidates that can clearly articulate the merits of a constitutionally limited government, the Republican Party will continue to suffer nationally, statewide, and locally. Let me end this article with a bit of advice: Past big government Republicans who lost in a previous election don’t somehow miraculously transform themselves into either conservatives or winners. So don’t retread on me. Don’t retread on me!