Elephant Ears

This blog is dedicated to the political happenings in the Valley and Southwest Virginia. As the the name implies, this blog will have posts based on what is heard by this elephant's (GOPer's) ears. It is also a great treat to get while at the county fair or a carnival.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Stupid Idea

I see California has proposed a new idea regarding the electoral college. Their legislature has passed a bill that, if a large group of states agree, that would give CA's 55 EVs to the winner of the national popular vote instead of who wins the state.
Basically the reasoning behind this is to eliminate the electoral college system of electing the President.

Do people not understand that it would be basically impossible to run a presidential campaign with only 80 million, if we made it based on popular vote?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Webb's Money Problem

Recently we have seen the polls severely tighten with now Zogby saying Webb is actually in the lead. Even so, George Allen has a huge money advantage on Webb and has not brought the warchest to bear yet.
Certainly these polls will encourage more to donate to Webb's campaign and probably result in the DNC/DSCC giving him more support as well (since he has gotten no support thus far I assume he will get something now).

I have a few questions though. First off, who can he get to do big fundraisers for him? Do you guys think Barbara Boxer will be a big draw in Virginia? Moreover, will people like her give Webb bad publicity b/c of his association?
Second, since the race is tightening will Mark Warner work harder for Webb or stay on his presidential rounds; coming back for an event now and then?

The other thing to ask is whether the tightening of this race could actually cause an advantage for the GOP. First off, if the DNC/DSCC start giving more money here (and especially if they basically have to finance the race theirself), they will obviously be taking it away from other races like PA, MO and OH. Could that be what tips the balance to us in a couple of races? The RNC/RSCC will have to spend viturally no money on this race b/c Allen will always have a commanding money lead and will be able to raise however much he needs on his own.

Certainly these polls show the race getting closer, but Virginia is not so democratic that Webb can be outspent 5-1 or 10-1 and win. Its not going to happen. Until Webb shows he can compete in the fundraising arena, I still think George Allen will be fine in the end.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

State House Elections in 2007

There is already talk about the races for next year for the state senate and HOD. NLS tells us Kaine wants to take back both houses, while Virginia Centrist says the dems will lose seats in the HOD.

I guess I have the third opinion, which is that the Senate will probably go to 20-20 and we will lose House seats but not control.

First the Senate: We have to lose 4 seats to lose control, or a 3 seat loss would result in the LG breaking ties. If this happens the 2009 LG would become very important as it would determine what party controlled redistricting the Senate. Here are the major seat contests for 2007.

I would say JeanneMarie will lose if Chap Petersen does in fact run against her. She may even choose to not run and begin her LG candidacy with her 365k that she has in the bank right now.

It sounds like Nick Rerras will be appointed to a position in Kaine's administration which will cause an opening there. Del. Lynwood Lewis from Accomack County is the likely dem candidate there, and we have no one who can defeat him based on the district (unless we have some wildly popular person in Norfolk that I don't know about.

Cuccinelli is probably very vunerable, but it appears the dems are having trouble finding someone to run against him. The main name I have heard right now is Fairfax County Sheriff Stan Barry. At any rate, Cooch can raise tons of money and bring in lots of volunteers, so he will be tough to beat in the grassroots part of the campaign.

O'Brien is somewhat in the same situation, although his district is probably a bit more liberal, but O'Brien is much less verbal about his conservative stances. Here again it appears the dems are having problems finding a strong candidate to challenge. It sounds like the main person to challenge him is Gallagher who ran against O'Brien in 2003. This is probably the best chance for us to hold of the 4, but its way early at this point.

Chuck Colgan was rumored to be retiring, but it now appears he will run one more time. I doubt he will be beaten, especially based on the current climate in NOVA; but his age could be a factor. I would say we pick this seat up if he leaves, but it stays in the dem column if Colgan is on the ballot in 07. Possible GOP challengers are candidate for Parrish's seat Carroll Weimer and Cuccinelli aide Bob Fitzsimmons.

Edd Houck or Roscoe Reynolds would be GOP pickups of they were to leave their districts, but are safe as long as these guys stay put. A Phil Puckett retirement could make for an interesting race, but again it is safe as long as he is there.

From this, I think its a good possibility that the GOP loses 3 seats in the Senate and then puts the 09 LG race on the redistricting map. I think either Cooch or O'Brien will survive to prevent a complete loss in 2007.

As for the House, the GOP has 57 (assuming Jackson Miller wins in November) plus 2 Indys. In order for the dems to regain control they need 10 seats.

GOP Manoli Loupassi will be running against indy Katherine Waddell in the 68th (Richmond/Chesterfield) seat. I have a feeling he will crush her with his popularity in the area and the area being GOP. The only problem here may be whether Loupassi can win a primary against a more conservative Republican.

If Lynwood Lewis does take Rerras' senate seat, the GOP will probably be able to pick up the 100th on the eastern shore. It is a relatively GOP area, but I know of no candidates at this point.

That is about the only GOP pickup I see other than a Ward Armstrong or Joe Johnson retirement. If either of those happen, the seats will definitely go GOP.

On the dem side, they will likely defeat Dave Albo and/or Jeff Frederick. It would seem they should survive 2007 after outpacing Kilgore by large numbers last year; but it depends on who the dems get to run against them (that is what is helping Frederick since the dem bench in PWC is basically non-existent).

The dems will pickup Rust, Callahan and May if any of those retire; but none of those look ready to hang it up yet.

The only other dem pickup seems to be Allen Dudley in Franklin County. If Dudley cannot get his act together, Eric Ferguson will probably beat him in 2007. Kilgore is probably the only the only thing that carried Dudley in 2005.

I am guessing the dems will pickup 1 or 2 seats in 2007; barring any retirements.

Is there anything anyone else is hearing?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

GOP Babies

I saw this interesting editorial in the WSJ that makes the arguement that the democratic party is headed for problems due to children. According to the article, conservatives are much more likely to have children (and more of them) than their liberal counterparts.
This seems to be to be surprising since the typical groups with large families, catholics and hispanics, are both seemingly democratic in nature (even though catholics are becoming more Republican). I guess the reason my be that the new breed of democrats in the suburban areas are all professionals who are holding off having children until later, and choosing have less of them when they do.

Some have said that a pro-choice society can't survive, so maybe the same holds true for a political party :)

At any rate, check it out; its a pretty interesting article.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Interesting Day

Hopefully our little episode today in Blacksburg isn't a cursor to this.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Quick Question

Since the scandal is in full swing right now, I was wondering about something.

Many political analysts as well as most dems feel that Virginia is "turning blue", or at least purple. They cite Tim Kaine's victory over Kilgore as well as the seemingly competitive race for a Senator who has represented Virginia for many years in various offices.

If Jim Webb does in fact beat George Allen, or even if he comes close, as a result of this scandal; will it prove anything?

It seems to me that the dems have been winning recently (and for the better part of 20 years now) not so much on their own ideas or stances but on the blunders of the GOP. Look no further than the upcoming midterms across the nation. In almost every race, the dems are pushing how Bush messed up the war and how the GOP needs to be punished for it. They aren't running on a real change message. They don't even have a clear message on how they plan to fix Iraq (and this is their main issue).
Contrary to some people's belief, 2006 will not be 1994 even if the dems do regain control of Congress. 1994 was about a movement and a real change. It was "Here is what is wrong and here is how we are going to fix it". The dems strategy this year is "the GOP sucks so vote for us".
I don't blame the dems, taking an unpopular issue and using against your opponent is section 1 of the political strategy handbook. Even so, at some point you have to prove you can govern and not just be good at telling everyone why your opponent is bad.

My question to everyone out there is, can the dems beat the GOP when the GOP doesn't screw up? Can they beat us on ideas, or can they only beat us when we beat ourselves?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

My Take on the Allen Scandal

Basically I think it was probably a badly chosen word, but I doubt he meant anything by it. Kudos to George for giving an apology: "Allen said, "I never want to embarrass or demean anyone, and I apologize if my comments offended this young man"

My big question is that if some democrat would have said this, would anyone care or would the media ever make a big deal out of it?

Also, now people are trying to suggest anything and everything from his comments. Saying "in the real world, not inside the beltway" does not mean "out here where the black don't live" but is more like "out here where the liberals aren't in the majority 80-1."

At any rate, if this "scandal" results in anything that makes a serious difference in the Senate race, it would greatly surprise me.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Harley Hog Fest

Note the date change

The 2nd Annual Harley Hog Fest will be held Friday, August 25th at 6:30 PM at the Shenandoah Harley-Davidson in Staunton. Delegates Chris Saxman, Steve Landes and Ben Cline of the Valley Leadership Trust will be throwing the event, with Sen. George Allen as the special guest.

The cost is $10/person payable at the door.

Please RSVP to bhanna86@yahoo.com or 804-687-8581 by August 21st.

It should be a great time, just like last year.

Harry Reid Projections

According to the Las Vegas Sun, Harry Reid is predicting a 5 seat gain for the Senate democrats this year. He says they will defeat Chafee, Santorum, DeWine, Talent and Burns.

He then said they were focusing on the races in AZ and TN and now are focusing on the Virginia race as well.

So Harry, when are you going to start sending your buddy Jim Webb some cash?
Also, its good to see that while all the dems were supporting him in the primary they still didn't think he had a chance.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

President Bush Fundraiser

So is anyone going to the "intimate" reception Ed Gillespie is having at his home in Alexandria for George Allen with President Bush as the special guest?

Its only $1500/person.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Tom Delay

The court battle is over. Today the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal to take DeLay off the ballot. Now Tom Delay will be the GOP nominee on the ballot in November in Texas' 22nd congressional district.

I think this is funny b/c the dems fought to keep him on the ballot, thinking he would be easy to beat and therefore in their best interests to keep him on there. Even so, the district is at least moderately GOP leaning and Delay can still raise pretty much any amount of money he needs.

How are the dems going to feel if Delay wins again and "The Hammer" is returned to Congress, by the urging of the democrats?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Electoral College Looking Forward

This is really early, but I have taken a look at what may happen with the electoral college in the next 15-20 years to see if the projected changes will have a major impact on the presidential elections of the future. I figured with all the talk about Virginia becoming a blue state, maybe we should look at whether it will matter.

First off, Bush got 286 EVs in 2004. Based on projections by the census dept. begun in 1995, if a GOP wins the same states as Bush did in 2004 they will get 287 EVs in 2012-2030. That is an interesting number b/c it shows that neither party will gain or lose a huge voting block as a result of changing population.

The next thing to look at is how solid the numbers are. In the 2004 election, the closest states were Ohio, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Nevada, and New Hampshire. It would seem logical that these 5 states will be the most likely states to change parties in the next few elections. Currently they are worth 44 EVs total, of which Bush got 30 (Ohio, New Mexico and Nevada) and Kerry got the other 14. Over the next 20 years the only change here will be that Ohio will fall to 19 EVs in 2010 and to 18 in 2020. The other 4 states will stay the same.

This basically means that from our perspective the electoral map will not change for the next 25 years. The GOP wins when it wins all the states it is supposed to win plus Ohio and one other "swing state". The dems win if they win OH or all the other swing states.

From what I can see, Virginia is probably one of the only solid Red states that seems to be "turning blue". If that is the case, the GOP should still be in good shape since they can win without Virginia (287-13=274). Of course they would still need to win all the other states Bush won in '04, which is never going to be a guarantee. It appears, if Virginia is truly becoming a dem winnable state, that the electoral strategy may become the GOP needing to win either OH or VA to win with the dems needing to carry both to win.

At the end of the day, there is really no way of knowing what the future will hold for any particular state regarding its political leanings. The only thing we can tell is that if states do no change their politics; the electoral strategy for both parties will not change much either.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

One Month Away

Just to update everyone on Hokie football, our first game is in a month against Northeastern at Home in Lane Stadium. It will be the first of 8 home games this season.

We are projected 2nd in the Coastal Divison behind Miami, no word yet on national ranking.

As for recruiting, we have a good number of guys coming on for their first year, but I don't know of any who are expected to start. Clark Crum may get to play OL, but thats about it.

The team should be pretty solid with the exception of the big question mark at QB. My guess is Sean Glennon will start for us, but that may change as the season goes on. Our receivers should be awesome (if our QB can get the ball to them). We have 2 great running backs in Branden Ore and George Bell. We will probably have a decent O-Line as usual, but nothing spectacular.
On defense we should still be really good since LBs Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi and DE Chris Ellis are all back. Replacing Tapp and Jimmy Williams will be tough, but I think we should be ok there.

This year, we are kicking butt in recruiting already getting committs from 23 including QB Tyrod Taylor from Hampton who is the number 1 player in Virginia and number 33 player in the nation.

I think it should be a good season, and hopefully we will do well.

I can't wait.

UPDATE: The Hokies are #16 in the new preseaon Coaches Poll that was released today.