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.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

John Kerry's Statement

I am sure you have all heard John Kerry told some children today that they better learn or they will be fighting in Iraq.

I just wonder what everyone thinks this will do to the election. Since all but one competitive Senate race are in red states (New Jersey isn't), I have to think an ad run by NRSC with this comment with the caption "do you want this man in charge of anything? If not, vote Republican" would be very effective; especially with these races being so close.

Just wondering if anyone thinks this will have an effect.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Mark Sanford for President?

The WSJ today has on its editorial page a column on South Carolina's governor Mark Sanford.

The gist of the column is that Sanford seems to be the only Republican left that holds fiscal responsibility in high regard. He has apparently fought against dems and GOPs in the SC state house to keep spending low and to cut taxes.

In a race that seems to be somewhat wide open (McCain seems to be the frontrunner, but that could change), Sanford could be the dark horse candidate in the '08 GOP presidential race. I do think the GOP is going to want a fiscal conservative after the fiasco that Bush has been in that arena. Also, if the WSJ is helping him out; he will have a pretty captive audience (I would say the WSJ readers are the big fiscal GOPs).

The only problem with this is he says there is no way he will run for president in 2008.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Hokie Football

I haven't really posted on our football team this year, but here is an update.

Of course we won our game on Thursday night against Clemson 24-7 which has us at 6-2 and 3-2 in ACC play. We just got back into the polls at #23 in the AP and #24 in the Coaches.
Our remaining games are at Miami this Saturday at 8 PM, at home vs. Kent State the following week, at Wake Forest the next week then back to Lane Stadium for our finale against UVa on Nov. 25th.

With Georgia Tech's win last night against Miami, they have virtually sealed up the ACC Coastal division title and a spot in the ACC Championship game on Dec 2nd. They would have to lose 2 of their next 3 games which are NC State, UNC and Duke in order to lose it (even then they might still get it if certain teams lose again).

Based on our outlook, its unclear what our postseason will be. We now have 6 wins, so we are bowl eligible and will undoubtably get a bowl bid. Most likely we will get a mid-bowl like the Champs Sports in Orlando or the Music City in Nashville. If we win out, we may secure a berth to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville or the Peach Bowl in Atlanta. I would say the likelihood of a BCS at-large berth is pretty close to none at this point.

Anyone know about anything else with VT football?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Gay Marriage Effects

I think its funny how every year the liberals accuse the Republicans of making gay marriage an issue when there more important things to worry about. The reason I think its funny is b/c its the liberals who actually make it an issue right around election time.

Yesterday the NJ courts decided that gay marriage is allowed unless their legislature wants to define marriage some other way. I assume this was brought about by a gay couple trying to get married which went to court. This issue is now front page news in most major newspapers and other major media outlets. 2 weeks before an election the liberals have made gay marriage an issue.

In 2004, it was our friend mayor Gavin Newsome of San Francisco that decided he would make gay marriage an issue in an election year. He started giving out illegal marriage licenses to gay couples, which were eventually stopped and voided. Yet again, this made front page news everywhere; and it was a liberal who made gay marriage an issue.

For some reason, the liberals don't understand the gay marriage debate among the American people. The vast majority of Americans oppose gay marriage, but they don't really care. Most don't really see the threat b/c they can't fathom anyone trying to legalize it to begin with. What turns this into a campaign issue and fires up the evangelicals about this is when things happen like yesterday that prove gay marriage can happen. That mobilizes voters on the issue and makes it a major campaign issue heading into an election.

We have been told that the evangelicals are not as likely to vote this year for the GOP due to the Foley scandal and several other issues, but yesterday's court ruling will probably bring a good number back to the GOP side. If it turns out the GOP holds its majorities by slim margins, this ruling could very well be the one thing that tipped the balance.

More locally in Virginia, this ruling could have a major adverse effect on the "Vote No" crowd. From what I have seen, most people haven't really been concerned with gay marriage right now, and may be open to voting against the amendment. That probably won't be the case now that they see it is a legitamite issue.

People need to understand political parties use what issues are in the news to help themselves. As long as liberals make gay marriage an issue near election day, Republicans will take advantage of it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Media Craziness

This morning 2 very strange things happened, 2 liberal papers endorsed Republicans.

First comes the Washington Post's endorsement of Bob Ehrlich (R) for Maryland governor. He has been behind in the polls and seems to be headed for defeat. I can't understand why the Post would endorse someone who isn't even going to win, unless their plan is to look unbiased on a race that they can't have any bearing on anyway.

The second comes from the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk who has endorsed Thelma Drake. This paper also has a history of endorsing democrats, so this is a big endorsement for Drake. Whats more, they haven't endorsed in the Senate election, so perhaps they will not make one.

Just some food for thought today.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Money's Effect in Politics

In light of my last post, I would like to show you a concrete example where money seems to be a major determinent in congressional races.
This year in Virginia we have 2 neighboring congressional districts that seemingly have a serious difference. Tom Davis seems to be poised to win re-election overwhelmingly while Frank Wolf looks to be in a close race.

This is interesting b/c of several factors. First off, Wolf's district is more Republican than Davis' (Bush got 55% in the 10th vs. 49.9% in the 11th, Kilgore got 46.4% in the 10th vs. 42.4% in the 11th). Second, Wolf is a 26 year incumbent vs. Davis' 12 years of incumbency. The only thing that points to Wolf being in a tougher spot than Davis is fundraising.

Frank Wolf has raised $1.3 million vs. Judy Feder's $1.1 million. Sure he has an advantage, but not a commanding one.
Tom Davis has raised $2.4 million vs. Andy Hurst's $300k. That my friends is the reason Davis has nothing to worry about.

Some would argue these numbers aren't greatly useful due to the fact stronger candidates can usually raise more money, so money isn't necessarily the reason for victory. Even so, it is a very good predictor of who will win and who will have a tough election.

One of the biggest disadvantages the GOP faces this year is the belief that the dems can win, so the dems have been able to raise money. That money has then enabled them to compete.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

GOP Majorities Safe?

According to a Barron's article, they think so. They have essentially used fundraising numbers to determine who they believe will win a race. As a result of their fundings, they see the GOP at 52 seats in the Senate (including a win by Santorum) and the GOP losing 8 seats in the House. They have basically paid no attention to polls in their endeavor.

Their mentality is that since 1972, 93% of House incumbents who outspent their opponents by more than $200,000 have won. Their numbers for Senate races aren't as concrete, but history says incumbents who spend more win.

This is interesting b/c it allowed Barrons to predict the GOP gains in 2002 and 2004 that many did not see coming.

Last week I told you Karl Rove was optomistic about the midterms, and I said it was probably b/c of the $55 million cash advantage the GOP has. This Barrons article is using the exact same formula as the GOP strategists.

I know for a fact that the RNC is using this formula, so time will tell if this will work.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Republicans at Berkley

From the front page of the WSJ comes an article about a growing club on the Berkley campus: the College Republicans. Appearently at 650 strong, the CRs at Berkley have surpassed the college dems as one of the larger organizations on campus. While liberals still outnumber conservatives, this is a big step at a university well known for its liberalism.

One of the interesting things is that this comes on the heels of other GOPs saying they aren't proud of being Republican.

Glad to see something going right on the left coast.

Republican In-Fighting

From the NYTimes comes an article of all the feuding in the Republican Party. As the GOP faces defeat in this year's elections, conservatives are questioning which ones are to blame. The tax-cutting wing is blaming the social cons for our problems. Social cons are saying the GOP isn't carrying their banner. Grover Norquist says its the out-of-control spending. Bill Kristol says Norquist's tax-cutting plans are hurting more than spending.

The funny thing is how much this looks like our party regarding Northern Virginia. Some think we are losing b/c we aren't conservative enough, some think we need to stop paying attention to social issues, some think its the transportation problems. As in the national level, every group says its the other group's fault.

This is not new. Anytime you are in power, factions will typically come to rise. Those factions then try to say everyone is voting for their group's issues and the others are at fault for losses. All the while, the opponents are just united in wanting to win.

This is also largely why the idea that GOPs are upset this year. Dems are united in wanting to win, they don't need infighting to agree on that. GOPs are largely fired up about their faction, but they feel the rest of the party is dragging them down.

This is the main reason I think that GOPs are upset right now. Its a feeling of helplessness, that all the other factions of the party are gonna screw everything up.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

High Rollers

Did anyone in our audience attend the Dubya fundraiser in Richmond or the Slicky Willie one in McLean?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hedging Elections

Since I am a Finance major, I thought of this a few days ago.

Many people give money to candidates with the hope that person will win. Some people do this in the hopes of getting a job, having a friend in office or whatever else they give for. I was thinking, what if you hedged your political donations?

My theory is that you give money to your candidate, and then bet on the other candidate to win.
For instance, if you give George Allen $100, you would then buy 10 contracts/shares on Tradesports for about $37. So if Webb wins, you would get your $100 back; and if Allen wins, your money will still count anyway.

Just wondering what everyone thought of this.

UPDATE: You actually need to buy 16 contracts for $59.20 (16*$3.70) to hedge this position. This would yield you $160 for a Webb win - the $59.20 premium = $100.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Newt Speaks Out

Human Events has quite possibily the greatest article ever by former Speaker Newt Gingrich.
He says the GOP can win in 3 weeks if we focus on economic policy, our values vs. Nancy Pelosi/San Francisco values, and defeating terrorism vs. trying to appease the terrorists.

Its a long article, but its worth it. I encourage every conservative out there to read it.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Rove and Bush Not Concerned?

I am sure you guys have all seen the article in the WaPo about how Karl Rove and Bush are not too concerned about losing the House or Senate majorities. Rove believes we will lose like 8-10 House seats (thereby preserving the majority) and he does not think the GOP will lose all 7 competitive Senate races (thereby preserving the Senate majority).

The two things being cited for this feeling is the huge money advantage the GOP enjoys ($55 million to be exact) as well as the believed superior GOP GOTV operation.
Some would argue that money won't help the GOP b/c so much is due to the huge electoral disadvantage they face. Even so, the thing to remember is that largely the battle for the Senate and House reside in red states and districts.

Think about the Senate. The main battles are VA, NJ, OH, TN, and MO (RI, MT and PA are probably done for). 4 of those 5 are red states, giving the GOP a chance to reach out to their base. Its not like they are in states where they need to get large crossover votes, they just need the base.

Next comes the House. According to Larry Sabato, of the 50 competitive seats; 30 are in red states compared to 20 in blue states. Even more so than that, many of the blue state seats were won by Bush in 2004. Same theory applies here, they only need GOPs, not as much crossover.

The best thing money can do is reinforce your own voters. Certainly media can be effective in picking up swing voters, but its most effective when trying to convince your base to get out there and vote. The fact that the GOP has a huge money advantage and is fighting most battles in friendly territory, things may not turn out as bad as people think (at least I think that's how Rove & Co. view it).

GOTV is another advantage for the GOP in that they typically have a more localized team compared to the dems who do more out-of-state people. With battles all over the map this year, it will be tough for the dems to ship people from one state to another since they will need them at home. Another thing is that since a large number of the races are in GOP friendly territory, the GOP GOTV effort can focus on just general turnout increases, whereas the dems will need a targeted effort at their voters only. The big question in this area is how fired up the GOP base is as we near election day.

Just some food for thought, you guys are free to rip my analysis now.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Frank Wolf

I saw this morning that the Washington Post has endorsed Frank Wolf in the race for the 10th congressional district. I would imagine this should help him in this year's race, since the Post doesn't typically endorse GOPs and that is the main paper in NOVA.

Even so, it could have longer term effects. There are many GOPs in the 10th district who are getting aggravated by Wolf. First it was his support for 10th district chairman Jim Rich over challenger Heidi Stirrup in the district chairman's race. Then he voted against the earmarking bill. He has also supported the "Hallowed Ground" intiative that is opposed by alot of people over property rights issues. There are rumors that he will draw a primary challenger next time around if things don't change. This Post endorsement could also be used against him if someone decides to challenge him (remember Sean Connaughton's Post endorsement?).

This all fuels questions as to whether he will run at all in 2008. It looks as though he has a tough race this year, and with the prospects of a primary challenger and a strong general election challenger in '08; he may decide its time to quit. After all, the prospects of a dem controlled House look more likely as each day passes. Who wants to sit around as a 26 year incumbent in the minority party?

My guess is he will retire in 2008 if the GOP loses the House. If we manage to hold it, Wolf may be able to secure a chairmanship (possibily Appropriations?) with his senior status and then he would probably wait around for another term or so.

One other thing to keep in mind is that it would behove the GOP to try and replace Wolf in a presidential year. The 10th district, while it has seen changes at the state level, is still a relatively solid district in presidential years (at least through 2008). This was strengthed even more with Warner dropping out of the race for president. Now it still seems unlikely Virginia will go blue in 2008.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Warner for Governor?

In light of yesterday's news coverage where Mark Warner said he was not running for president in 2008; many in the blogosphere have suggested he will now be setup to run for governor again in 2009. This certainly makes sense, since that has widely been seen as his alternative plan if he did not succeed in 2008.

Heres my question, is he really going to be that unbeatable? I realize he has high approval ratings now, but what can he now do to stay in the news? I always thought he would be unbeatable for governor if he ran for president and didn't succeed, because he would be in the news all the time for his presidential run. Now that he has sidelined that, what will gain him media coverage?

Also, there are several other people looking to run for governor on the dem side. Not being in the party, I was just wondering if people like Brian Moran, Creigh Deeds and Chap Petersen would step aside to let Warner have the nomination; or if it would be a bitter fight.

Just wondering what everyone else's thoughts are on this.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Allen Wins Debate

According to a SurveyUSA poll conducted for WDBJ, George Allen won the debate.

First off, the poll indicates 30% of Virginia watched the debate (301 of 1000 surveyed watched the debate). That seems high, but it was in prime time in every major market, so its believable I guess.

The numbers show that Allen won 48-38 with 14% saying there was no clear winner. The interesting numbers though are that 72% of GOPs thought Allen won, whereas only 58% of dems thought Webb won. Independents were split 48-37 Allen.

The favorable/unfavorables were about the same although Webb was seen a little bit more unfavorable than Allen (36% for Webb vs. 31% for Allen).

Keep in mind, this poll was only of 301 people and most of it has a MOE of +/-5.8%
One other point of note is that only 22% of "Northeast" watched the debate, so NOVA is probably underepresented in this poll.

Monday, October 09, 2006


I had to watch the debate for a class, and from what I saw neither guy made any serious mistakes or gaffes.
Based on that, I think the coverage will probably be pretty even.
The problem is, they will then say "Sen. George Allen did well in the debate following his continued racial problems and questions about things he did while at UVa and also macaca".

Thats the problem right now folks. There is nothing that can get us out of the rut. Every news article/coverage, favorable or not, refers to macaca and everything else bad for George Allen.

Until Webb really screws up or has some major indiscretions come out on him, Allen will have a very tough time getting his "issues agenda" out there to the public.

Good thing we have so much more money to run ads with. We are gonna need it.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

New Poll

I see this morning that Zogby has released some congressional polling data. Of the 15 races he is polling, dems lead 11 of those; signaling the dems taking over the House.

Anyway, the main number I saw was the Drake-Kellam race. Zogby has it at Kellam 46 - Drake 42, but I can't figure out when it was conducted. I don't know if it was before the assault charges were brought out or not.

Does anyone know when this poll was conducted?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

New Speaker?

I had planned on doing a post on this anyway, but this op-ed piece today in the Washington Times reinforces my point.

Alot of people have wondered if we need a new speaker. Obviously, Speaker Hastert was chosen because he was a clean slate and had no scandals. That being said, he has not really been a firebrand conservative leader like Newt was. I have heard alot of people say for awhile now that we need a new speaker.

Originally I heard Hastert will retire after this congress (2008) so many people felt we would just live with it for 2 more years then get someone good. After all, it would be very difficult to get rid of him without a good reason.

This scandal involving Foley could be the excuse to get rid of Hastert.
Of course this is assuming there is a House to lead next year.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The WSJ Has It Right

I saw this great column in the Wall Street Journal today. It lays out why many GOPs are concerned about their party's direction, but also points out the few good things the GOP congress has accomplished.

They say that while getting the bankruptcy legislation passed and 2 supreme court justices confirmed, the GOP congress didn't deliver on much else. Social security, immigration, and health care are some of the issues that have not been tackled; largely because of a divided GOP and a united dem caucus.

Virginia's own Tom Davis even gets ripped for not even trying to get a vote on a social security fix.

I still don't know if the "Pelosi for Speaker" warning will be enough to hold the House this November; but I do know if we succeed in holidng the House, we need to get back to an agenda of lower spending and more reforms. Thats how we got the House, and thats what we need to do to keep it.