On the Campaign Trail

On the Campaign Trail

Swinging in Virginia

With five weeks to go before Election Day, Republicans and Democrats have targeted a small number of jurisdictions as key battlegrounds, including Henrico County and Virginia Beach. Here in Northern Virginia, the key swing jurisdictions are Loudoun County and Prince William County, where Republican George W. Bush won in 2004 followed by Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 only to flip back the next year and vote fore Republican Bob McDonnell in 2009. Those swing counties are now at the center of battleground Virginia.

“The polling shows that there’s still a group that has not made a decision,” said Toni-Michelle Travis, political science professor at George Mason University, adding that attracting swing voters in Northern Virginia will probably come down to the bottom line. “I think it has to be some dimension of the economic because that’s where we saw a number of home foreclosures and, you know, people losing jobs.”

So who are these swing voters? Conventional wisdom says many voters who have not yet made up their mind are “low-information voters.” That’s a group that does not read the Alexandria Gazette Packet or watch C-SPAN on a regular basis.

“The people who do pay more attention have a partisan affiliation, either an explicit one or an hidden one whereas the undecided folks generally aren’t paying as much attention,” said Kyle Kondick, analyst with the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “There’s some evidence that both parties are pursing a base strategy, which is usually associated with Bush’s 2004 campaign. I wonder if you might not see a similar thing with Obama taking the role of the polarizing president.”

Back in Alexandria

Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Brian Moran was back in Alexandria this week, plotting the final few weeks toward Election Day. Over coffee at the Uptowner, the former member of the House of Delegates who once represented Alexandria’s West Side handicapped a number of key races in Virginia. He acknowledged Democrats have an “uphill battle” to take back the 5th congressional district, where Democrat Tom Perriello lost in 2010 to Republican Robert Hurt, who now faces Democrat John Douglas. He’s feeling more upbeat about the 2nd congressional district, however, where Moran describes the race between Republican Scott Rigell and Democrat Paul Hirschbiel as a “toss up.”

Moran says he will not be running for governor next year, and he says he will back former rival Terry McAuliffe if he gets the nomination.

“At this point, it’s unlikely that anyone else will jump into the race on the Democratic side,” said Moran. “I haven’t heard from anyone else who has expressed an interest.”

Oriental Regulation

Libertarian Robert Kraus is angry. He’s angry about excessive spending. He’s angry about taxes. And he’s angry about government regulation.

“I pledge not to vote for any new spending that doesn’t come with targeted cuts or savings. For every dollar in new spending, I want to see two dollars in savings or cuts,” said Kraus. “I challenge all the other candidates at this forum to take the same pledge.”

Nobody took him up on the challenge Tuesday night during the second City Council debate, so Kraus decided to illustrate his point about government out of control by giving an example. He told a story about a time when he was the manager of Heritage Furniture at Landmark Mall. He said he was “continuously harassed” on a weekly basis by city officials who said he needed a special sale permit because he was selling oriental rugs at a discount of more than 50 percent. Kraus says this is a ridiculous example of government overreach, and that if elected he would work against excessive regulation that undercuts small businesses.

“Apparently the city wants to tell me what I should sell something for, but it’s not the city’s business,” said Kraus. “And have you ever seen anybody sell an oriental rug for less than 50 percent off? It’s the standard way of operating.”