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Post-Election Observations

By Greg L | 9 November 2011 | Loudoun County, Virginia Politics, Prince William County | 23 Comments

Quite a few surprises happened last night, and I’m still going through the mounds of results, but here are some of the things I think are worth noting early.

1.  Loudoun County sweeps: for all the infighting in the LCRC, what they pulled off last night was monumental.  They flipped a Democrat controlled Board of Supervisors into a unanimous Republican board (despite having only two incumbents running for re-election), knocked off an incumbent Sheriff, and held every incumbent seat in the county.  The only thing the didn’t do well on was in the 87th District, but Prince William County rode into the rescue and provided David Ramadan the margin of victory to win there.  Despite what we see on the internet about the LCRC, that committee WORKS.  They have a few things to share with the rest of Virginia about how to get members off the couch and out working for candidates, as no other unit came close to performing like these guys.  Mark Sell is utterly vindicated by these results, which should calm the flow of electrons substantially if sanity can finally prevail.

2.  Incumbency is just as powerful as ever: for all the races that were in play, once again it’s amazing to see how few seats changed hands.  In order to knock off an incumbent it takes a flawless campaign started as early as possible, that makes a solid and memorable case explaining why the incumbent needs to be replaced, and where the challenger can make strong inroads into all parts of the district with hard work and a solid army of volunteers.  Having a short campaign season due to redistricting only makes it tougher.

3.  RPV needs to fire some pollsters: you can’t win a battle with bad intelligence, and it seems the intelligence coming out of Richmond on Senate races was just plain awful.  As a result it seems resources were spread out too widely and RPV failed to focus on ensuring the minimum three seats for an absolute majority were set before it widened the net to pick up targets of opportunity.  Four years from now the electoral environment will be much more difficult than it was this year and the chances of picking up additional Senate seats then are far lower than it was this cycle.  We’re likely to have a four year window with power-sharing in the Senate before Democrats re-take majority control when the wind will most likely be at their backs next time around.  More than anyone else, the pollsters are responsible for this.

4.  Prince William Board hearts Principi: The next time anyone on the Prince William Board complains about having to deal with the awful Frank Principi, just tell them they’re partly responsible for him still being there.  Final campaign finance reports aren’t available yet, but a $500 donation and little if any personal support to help unseat Principi is a testament to non-teamwork when you end a campaign cycle with $20k or more in the bank.  Peter Candland won despite this non-support partly because John Stirrup made it his second job to support him, an example current electeds ought to take to heart because without that level of teamwork at some point in the future some Democrat is going to come and eat their lunch and they’ll be all alone to deal with the challenge themselves.

5.  Let the Colgan rumors commence: Dems are likely thinking, now that we’ve seen how the newly redrawn 29th District performs, that if they recruit a strong candidate and Colgan works hard to get him or her elected they can survive a special election if Colgan retires and not have the balance of power change in the Senate.  2012 may not the best time for them to try to pull this off, but if Republicans nominate a weak Presidential candidate it seems that the backlash against Obama isn’t something that Democrats can’t overcome even if he’s at the top of the ticket.

6.  The Obummer anchor: This was the election cycle to capitalize on anti-Obama sentiment, and the results were very mixed.  Either candidates didn’t tap into that sentiment effectively, or that sentiment wasn’t enough to drive voters disgusted with what’s going on in Washington to the polls for state and local candidates.  If 2012 candidates for Congress, US Senate and whatever local elections may be happening are going to leverage this, there aren’t many examples from this cycle of how to do this in a general election that they can draw on.

To wrap up, as usual there were some funny things I noticed this cycle readers might appreciate.

If you can imagine R. Lee Ermey recording a get out the vote robo-call, that’s about what PWCRC Vice-Chairman Tom Whitmore’s effort sounded like, just without the threat that if you didn’t vote Whitmore was going to come to your house, tear off your arm, and beat you over the head with it.  I wish I had recorded it, as it’s just classic.

Watching Ann Wheeler show up at Sudley precinct to talk with voters was a hoot, as she managed to get collared by one rather long-winded guy and ended up wasting 45 minutes there before giving up on the precinct and moving on.  I love it when a Democrat campaign wastes their time.

Advocates for the Rural Crescent continued their perfect losing streak by having their last remaining endorsed candidate lose on Tuesday.  With a record like this I can’t see any future candidates being dumb enough to waste their time with this bunch.  They’re the kiss of death.

Chuck Colgan actually flew some people in from Canada to work the polls for him yesterday.  Kudos for pulling out all the stops on this Chuck, but Canadians working our polls?

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  1. Anonymous said on 9 Nov 2011 at 12:39 pm:
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    Greg, I disagree with you on almost every issue, but I have to say that I think this is one of the most dead-on, objective, even generally respectful, electoral assessments you have every given. I’d like to see more of this kind of thing. We don’t need more partisans bloggers (no offense). We need a reliable source of accurate information. Hell, I would even pay on a regular basis to get it.

  2. Gaius Baltar said on 9 Nov 2011 at 12:42 pm:
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    The fact that David Ramadan only won by 50 votes in a conservative district, running against a pretty far left opponent is shameful. It is obvious that many did not want to vote for him because of his background.

    That said, I hope that he does well and proves the naysayers wrong. I certainly never expected to see any women dragged into shariah courts for not wearing burqas or anyone whipped for drinking alcohol now that he is elected. Now everyone can see how silly that thinking was

  3. Anonomus said on 9 Nov 2011 at 12:49 pm:
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    so, will 66 get fixed since it grid locks now at 5:45 every morning at manassas 234 bus all the way to centrville? NOT. Will the liberals still run our schools and social services? YEA.

  4. JOE said on 9 Nov 2011 at 12:56 pm:
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    This is from Senator Barker:

    “We won the majority of votes in Alexandria and Fairfax and came very close to winning in Prince William — an incredible result all around.”

    Exactly why he drew the lines the way he did. He would have lost this election if he hadn’t gone into the liberal strong hold.

  5. G Man said on 9 Nov 2011 at 12:57 pm:
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    1. It appeared to me the hideously redrawn precincts by George Woof Woof to add more Dems to Colgan, Puller, and his own precinct made the difference in the outcomes, because the Repubs won or held their own in most of the original precinct areas.

    2. For Colgan’s next campaign he should change his slogan from “Seniority Counts” to “Senility Mounts”.

  6. JOE said on 9 Nov 2011 at 1:07 pm:
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    @ G Man, The redrawn districts do not account for Colgan winning in Manassas and the Park. What his win here tells us is that the good ole boy system is still up and running.

    Just check out the other thread where Miller and Hill are chastised for supporting their fellow republican, instead of the long time democrat.

  7. Anonymous said on 9 Nov 2011 at 2:01 pm:
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    Point 3 is dead on, the RPV over-reached and fell short as a result.

    The Senate typically like to make there own rules. When Kaine was the
    LG it was a 20/20 split and the Senate created a power sharing agreement.
    Otherwise in 2 years if the Dems pick up the LG seat it will be pay back time.

  8. Greg L said on 9 Nov 2011 at 2:25 pm:
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    I would not be surprised if the overreach was a product of RPV’s experience in the 2010 Congressional elections. They focused on two races which they won pretty big, picked up a third by surprise by a big margin, and came within a few hundred of a fourth. Perhaps based on that experience they figured getting a little bolder would be a good strategy and when they saw numbers that suggested that approach might work, they went “all in” to see if they could sweep a bunch of races.

    The difference here is that they really needed three as a magic number and could have focused for that. Certainly Dems would react somewhat appropriately and we’d have just ended up with three key races where spending went through the roof rather than spreading it out more. I suppose this is a bit of Monday morning quarterbacking here, so it’s hard to tell what the impact would have been if things were different, but they certainly wouldn’t have been pushing resources towards Gordy and Flanary if they understood what was actually going on, and those resources would have been more useful elsewhere.

    Key is that you can’t make good decisions based on bad information, so if there was an opportunity to focus more effectively, RPV didn’t have the info that would have reliably told them where that could be done.

  9. Anonymous said on 9 Nov 2011 at 2:43 pm:
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    Losers whine, winners gloat. Yes, some of us “Good Ole Boys” like it that way.

    I was shocked Flanary didn’t win, Marsden acted like he was running unopposed

  10. Gnarly said on 9 Nov 2011 at 3:07 pm:
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    Great point in #3. The dirty little secret is that the targeting process has LESS to do with winning races and far MORE to do with laundering as much campaign cash as possible through the RPV accounts and into the hands of a select few vendors.

  11. Harry said on 9 Nov 2011 at 4:23 pm:
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    One more thing: I love it when I go to a polling location and see 5-10 Republicans including party staffers hanging out harassing voters who’ve already made up their mind rather than actually trying to turn out their vote. Just awesome work, gang!

  12. G Man said on 9 Nov 2011 at 5:08 pm:
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    Harry I understand. You want them to turn out the vote like the black panthers in militia uniforms with their night sticks did. Yeah I know what you are talking about.

  13. Karen Miner Hurd said on 9 Nov 2011 at 5:53 pm:
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    Personally, I think the GOP message was weak. Bob McDonnell was not a motivating factor for votes. Remember- the Dems didn’t want Obama’s campaign bus near their campaigns. That was a pretty big clue. I agree w/Greg. Bad intel from the polling. We should have picked up at least 1 or 2 more seats. https://www.conservativehq.com/article/5388-gop-state-senate-races-virginia-too-much-money-not-enough-message

  14. Harry said on 9 Nov 2011 at 7:30 pm:
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    Barker, Colgan, Puller, Principi polls conducted Oct 28, 29,30 (likely voters, margin of error 4.5%)

    Barker 54 Baker 46

    Colgan 54 Gordy 46

    Puller 55 Frederick 45

    Principi 64 Royce 36

  15. Riley said on 9 Nov 2011 at 9:23 pm:
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    On #4, I believe the amount as of 10/26 was $25,674 cash on-hand in an uncontested race and money out was $250 to Candland on 9/20 and then $500 to Royse on 9/30 and another $500 on 10/15. Sort of like your grandma giving you a shiny new nickel when you’re 16 years old. Doesn’t mean a heck of a lot.

  16. Mitch Skins said on 9 Nov 2011 at 9:36 pm:
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    I can’t believe that hack Fitzsimmonds lost it for Stirrup. What a clown that guy is. Now we have to put up with whacko Dick Black who could give a krap for PWC

  17. Harry said on 9 Nov 2011 at 10:39 pm:
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    G-Man, I sincerely hope Republicans continue to think like you!

  18. Bwana said on 10 Nov 2011 at 6:18 am:
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    Greg, look for Colgan to retire (if in fact this is the plan) about a year from now, after the federal elections, especially if Obama runs well in PWCo. Then I believe there would be an isolated special election (like we had in winter 2009-2010) away from the glare of a statewide campaign or the run up to a statewide campaign.

  19. NeeR said on 10 Nov 2011 at 11:40 am:
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    I think there is too much rancor in the Republican ranks around here and it spills over into an inability to attract good candidates in some races. The Democrats in Northern Virginia do a better job of appealing to (sorry to use the word) “tent” and coming together.

    I felt a few Republican candidates on my ballot were weak or recycled. It is hard to get good people to run. Cultivating candidates is an on-going process. I don’t think the GOP in Northern Virginia fully appreciates that. If they do, it isn’t showing.

    In my own district in Fairfax, I found myself splitting my ticket for the first time. I do not belong to a political party. When I did belong to a party, I was a member of the Republican party. Even though I’ve grown less partisan, I never miss an election. I am slightly right of center. My vote should be a gimme to Republicans. Yet, the only Republican on the ballot in my district whom I was excited to support was Spike Williams. I knew he wouldn’t win, but I found a lot to like in him.

  20. Harry said on 10 Nov 2011 at 1:27 pm:
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    Just got my hands on the Sept 30, Oct 1, 2 polls for Barker, Colgan, Puller, Principi (4.5% margin of error, likely voters):

    Barker 49 Baker 51

    Colgan 56 Gordy 44

    Puller 48 Frederick 52

    Principi 59 Royce 41

    With the exception of Colgan the races were much closer at the beginning of October than the November results.

  21. Wineplz said on 11 Nov 2011 at 3:39 pm:
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    Really? Canadians? WTG, Chuck! We’ve got how many unemployed in this country, yet you fly in Canadians to help out with our election? I’m with G Man said on 9 Nov 2011 at 12:57 pm about Colgan’s slogan.

  22. Former Officer said on 12 Nov 2011 at 7:35 am:
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    Any proof on the Canadians being flown in or do you just enjoy making outrageous claims on here?

  23. Greg L said on 12 Nov 2011 at 9:26 am:
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    That comes directly from one of Colgan’s grandchildren who was working the poll at Sudley Precinct alongside me. I figure he’s a pretty reliable source.

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