Will Virginia 2005 Predict Georgia 2006?
The events occurring [in Virginia] this Fall could provide a preview of Georgia’s election next year.
Virginia’s statewide electoral cycle is a little different from that of the rest of the nation. It’s sandwiched in between a year after the presidential melee and twelve months before most states hold theirs. Most people see it as a warm-up for other statewide elections. Candidates, themes and policies are all closely watched for signs, signals and cues from voters. This year, Virginia will be no different.
[T]here are some lessons for Georgia political pundits. What you need to know is what to watch for. These include (1) attitudes toward incumbency, (2) who moderate swing voters fall for, (3) the success of some key themes designed to motivate the ideological base to turn out on Election Day.
Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine is hoping to ride the incumbent’s coattails to the statehouse in Richmond. The next best thing to re-election for popular Gov. Mark Warner is to promote his deputy to his post. Warner turned heads with his blue win in a red southern state (some feel he may run for the 2008 presidential race). Kaine hopes to do the same with a focus on education, jobs and transportation.
Republican Attorney General Jerry Kilgore has taken a different tack. No doubt, he came to the conclusion that the key to electoral success is to follow the Bush-Cheney-Rove playbook, which can be summed up in three words: motivate your base. Kilgore has focused his campaign on God, guns and gays. He has made abortion and the death penalty key statewide issues and made subtle jabs at affirmative action. The plan is to throw some red meat in the red state to fire up conservatives to come out in droves, just as they did in November of 2004.
Russ Potts, a Republican state senator who has crafted a position as a fiscal conservative, but a social liberal [is also running as an independent]. He has drawn moderate Republicans who are uncomfortable with their party’s dramatic right-turn toward the social conservative movement.
A Mason-Dixon poll undertaken for the Richmond Times-Dispatch showed Kaine with 38 percent, Kilgore with 37 percent, and Potts with nine percent.
[The article is by John A. Tures, an assistant professor of political science at LaGrange College.]