Even the dumbest of conservatives are beginning to sense something is wrong. An article full of so many cliches that it’s hard to track them bemoans the very predictable GOP loses in VA.
RICHMOND, Va. – As Virginia election returns rolled in Tuesday night, Republican campaign manager Daniella Propati quickly realized two things: Her candidate for the House of Delegates, GayDonna Vandergriff, would lose, and calling their opponent a “socialist” hadn’t worked.
North Richmond and the tony suburbs of Henrico County had once been a dependable backstop for the GOP, a place where statewide candidates found votes to offset Arlington and Alexandria. But the suburbs have undergone a metamorphosis in recent years – growing more socially liberal, more diverse, less interested in the red meat of the tea party and Donald Trump.
“Republicans – we’ve been running campaigns in Virginia the same way for 20 years,” Propati said. “We need to come together and say, ‘What do we need to do next time?’ “
That’s a question Republicans around the country are wrestling with after Tuesday’s elections revealed new troubles in suburbs from Memphis to Philadelphia. Nowhere has the problem been more pronounced than in Virginia, where Republicans have been all but wiped from power in the past decade.
A GOP candidate hasn’t won statewide office in Virginia since 2009. On Tuesday, Democrats gained majorities in both houses of the General Assembly for the first time in a generation; the House of Delegates swung from a 66-34 Republican edge in 2017 to a 55-45 Democratic advantage for next year’s session.
In presidential elections, Virginia has moved so swiftly to the left in recent contests that it barely paused to be a swing state.
“This is the nightmare scenario for a lot of people in the Republican Party,” said Ruy Teixeira, a demographer at the liberal Center for American Progress. “Virginia is an example of a possible future for some of the states that are now part of the Republican coalition.”
Virginia now stands as a fearful avatar for Republicans of what the nation’s unrelenting demographic and cultural changes mean for the party, as the moderate-to-liberal urban and suburban areas grow and more conservative rural areas lose ground.Similar shifts are starting to hit such states as North Carolina, Arizona, Georgia and Texas, as minority populations increase and white college-educated voters continue to turn away from the Republican brand.
“It ought to be a concern everywhere,” said former Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., whose northern Virginia district has been swept of GOP power. “These demographic changes are happening everywhere. They are not unique to Virginia.”
No, calling the opponent a socialist when you’ve allowed (helped) to flood the nation with socialists is not a winning strategy. Those cultural and demographic changes are unrelenting, but they were also stoppable. Maybe the GOP should have stop them. Maybe conservative is synonymous with stupid. Better luck last time.
An aside – I just had a conversation about this kind of thing in Georgia. There may yet be time to do something. If so, it’s a short time. And, it will require doing something.