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.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

GOP Primary Overview

As we enter the final hours of the primary campaigns in the GOP incumbent challenges, I want to give an overview of what I think will happen in the races and how they are connected.

To begin, I want to point out that I think the 3 major primary races (12th, 22nd and 24th) all have one thing in common: "grassroots" vs. "establishment". In all three races, the challengers have argued that they don't need as much money b/c they have grassroots support and don't need it. The incumbents argue that their position and seniority will help their districts and that's the main reason they should be re-elected.

As a result of this phenomenon, the races' outcomes will largely be determined by turnout. The supporters of challengers Blackburn, Smith and Sayre are very active and motivated and will all be at the polls on Tuesday no matter what. This is the single biggest advantage the challengers have right now. The number of votes each of these candidates will receive is probably a relatively fixed number. For example, if Sayre has 4000 people who are going to vote for him, he will likely get 4000 votes whether there are 4200 votes cast or 42,000.

This is both a blessing and a curse, since obviously they are at the mercy of the electorate. If most people choose to not show up on primary day, one or all of these challengers may be able to pull off an upset. If however people do show up, they have no chance to win the GOP nominations. Conversely, if weather is bad (which it looks like a potential for scattered showers in the districts on Tuesday) or if people think the nominations are sewn up; turnout will be extremely low and put the challengers in position to capture their respective district nominations.

I think most right now would give the edge to the incumbents in all these races, simply because incumbents usually do not get ousted in primaries. Whats more, they have all significantly outspent their opponents in their respective races.

That being said, margin of victory is the bigger question. While most believe these contests will be relatively close; I disagree. While anything can happen; I think that we will likely see these 3 incumbents all receive at least 60% of the vote in their primaries. If there is bad weather in these districts, that number may fall some; but I think most people have misinterpreted the electorate in these races. Many more people than just committee members and GOP activists will vote (contrary to popular belief) which will give a large base of voters for the incumbents.

I reiterate the fact that if turnout is extremely low (under 2%) that the challengers may get in striking distance; but I honestly believe the incumbents will all be victorious when the votes are counted Tuesday night. I also want to point out that this is not an endorsement of Stosch, Bell and Hanger; but simply a prediction based on what I know and think will happen. Throughout these primaries I have tried to stay as neutral in my coverage as possible while still giving a good analysis of what I think will happen.

Tomorrow I will have a final post before the primaries on the blogosphere's influence on this political process.

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