DV Archive

Decision Virginia Archive 8/08- 7/12

Democrats and Republicans claim key victories in 2011 elections

with 4 comments

By: Ryan Nobles – bio | email

Off-year elections are not supposed to be this exciting.  The polls have been closed in Virginia for almost 12 hours and we still aren’t 100% sure which party is in control of the Virginia Senate.  Election night was a tense and dramatic affair with both parties claiming victory.

Democratic Victories:

Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney- The win by upstart Shannon Taylor was improbable. She was immensely outspent, got as late a start as any candidate on the ballot could have and was running against a historically dominant Republican machine.  It is a victory that will resonate beyond Central Virginia to the rest of the state and should even get a small amount of national attention because it was a blow to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor‘s power base in his home district.  Republicans will argue that Taylor benefited greatly by Matt Geary‘s refusal to exit the race and the results are an anomaly that won’t tell us anything about 2012.  That is true, but Taylor’s victory cannot be understated given that she toppled Del. Bill Janis, a man who gave up a very powerful position in the House of Delegates to run for CA.

Held off Senate losses- Conventional wisdom was that democrats were headed to a very difficult night. Worst case scenarios had them losing 10 seats or more in the House of Delegates and 4 seats and control of the Virginia Senate. It looks like the outcome will not be that bad, and at the very least the republican agenda will be forced to get democratic support to pass through the committee process.

Republican Victories:

They hold more seats in the General Assembly- Regardless of how you read the numbers there is one inescapable fact from the 2011 results. The GOP now holds more seats in the House and the Senate than they did before election day.  While Governor Bob McDonnell has not been handed a clear majority in the Senate to push through his agenda, he has at least one additional vote that he didn’t before. That will make it much easier for him to pass legislation that will resonate beyond his time in office.

Powerful, vocal democratic leaders lose-  If the results all hold democrats could lose two of their most influential voices in the General Assembly.  Most notably, Del. Ward Armstrong the one time leader of the democratic caucus in the House of Delegates and a would be statewide candidate. Armstrong was re-redistricted into a match-up with incumbent Charles Poindexter in a GOP heavy district. He ran a campaign as far away from the democratic base as he could, but it was not enough. Unless he still has visions of a statewide run, his political career could be over.  In the race that is still in doubt, Sen. Edd Houck a longtime democratic stalwart and foil to republican governors could be gone. Houck is the third most powerful member of the democratic senate and a strong voice on the joint money committees.  He understands the nitty-gritty of the state budget and his experience would be a huge loss for democrats when it comes to budget time.

I joined the NBC12 morning team for a look at the results. You can see our discussion below:


4 Responses

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  1. Mr. Nobles,

    Your coverage of the VA elections is another example of liberal bias. Your glee for all Democratic victories is obvious, and you downplay any Republican victories. The truth is, the Republicans won control of the Senate, but your lead story and focus is on a relatively insignificant race for a non-policy making seat in Henrico County. Leading up to this race, many political pundits (including yourself) said that if the Republicans can win control of the VA Senate, it would be significant for Virginia as a swing state in next year’s presidential election, and as a referendum on Obama politics. Here is one of your own quotes from your website:

    “Control of the Virginia Senate: This is the story line that has the potential to have the biggest long term impact.”

    Yet, you focus on the henrico Commonwealth Attorney race, won by a Democrat, and all but ignore the statewide Republican victory.

    BTW, I am NOT a Republican; I am just frustrated with biased news coverage.

    Tom Mathews

    November 9, 2011 at 9:08 am

  2. Tom- thank you for your comment.. but I struggle to understand how you would imply that I have “ignored” the Virginia Senate story.. in this post 3 of the 4 points I make are about that race, and the republican victories. I haven’t changed my view about the long term impact, and we will continue to cover the Senate flip very closely over the next several days.

    However, the Henrico CA race impacts a significant portion of our viewing area and it deserves all the attention is getting.

    My guess is that if I had flipped the placement of the democratic victories and the republican victories this post would look different to you. My point is that both sides had plenty to be happy about from last night. I am not sure how that indicates bias, but if you are looking for it, I suppose you will find it.

    Ryan Nobles

    November 9, 2011 at 9:14 am

    • Seeing your own bias is not easy. Chris Matthews of Hardball fame cannot admit that he is bias. In this case, while you mention the VA Senate flip to Republicans, your bias is apparent by what you are focusing on. I submit that if the Dems had held onto the VA Senate, you would have made it the lead story because of its local and national implications, and how the Dems victory fares well for next year’s elections.

      Except for criminals, I disagree that the Henrico DA race impacts your viewing area more than the make up of the VA General Assembly, and this election’s implications for the presidential race next year.

      Tom Mathews

      November 9, 2011 at 12:48 pm

  3. Ryan, thanks for all the coverage you provide. My husband and I followed your tweets last night while we were out for drinks, then watched you on the news at 11, and now I’m getting the morning update on your blog. Thanks for making local politics a focus – great example of NBC12 serving community needs to stay relevant in a changing media world. The Henrico CA race was the most exciting for us and I don’t think your coverage seems biased at all.


    November 9, 2011 at 11:33 am

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