Back to blog

Republicans hold onto Virginia’s House

See blog

Readers' comments

The Economist welcomes your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful of other readers. Review our comments policy.

bars69

Being fiscally conservative is a virtue, it is not necessarily brought by low taxes. Only places like Wyoming, Texas and North Dakota which have resources like oil and gas can afford low taxes. Whether Virginia is run by Republicans or Democrats good governance is the key. Will we get good governance from a fractured house with rural Republicans and urban and suburban Democrats?

Tom Meadowcroft

If we look narrowly at the case of the a tied election, flipping a coin or drawing lots is the only sensible way of picking one winner. Statistically, there is a margin of error and random variation associated with any election. Were you to repeat this election many times, approximately half the time each side would win. So drawing lots is a good abstract representation of the electoral state of affairs.
.
If one feels that solution is too "Winner-take-all" for a contest which was 50/50, the better alternative would be to give each individual half the term. However, we use first-past-the-post elections to generate decisive majorities, not to be as fair as possible to each voter. Drawing lots retains that philosophy. Per King Solomon, a compromise solution tends to result in each mother getting half a baby.

Firelog138

Virginia showed that the Democrats are going to make gains in 2018. The question is, will it be enough to flip party control in the House, Senate, a state house, senate or governor.

guest-oeimniw

The other day, Larry Sabato, the UofVa political scientist, pointed out that the aggregate vote for the Va state legislature in 2017 was 55 percent Democratic to 45 percent Republican. The GOP maintains its electoral "majority" through gerrymandering. It is one thing to protect the rights of a political minority. It is another for that minority to impose its political will on the majority, disempowering it. The Republicans must pursue this strategy because their demographic position is so invidious. It's the only way they can compete.

CaptainRon in reply to umghhh

For the most part yes. On the federal level most states cannot be gerrymandered because they have so few congressional districts. On the state level its very easy to do. The worst examples on the federal level are Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all controlled by Republicans while only Illinois and one district in Maryland are cited. In 2012 Republicans had a minority of votes nationwide yet held 32 more seats in the House.

While there is a lot of gerrymandering of electoral districts (arguably a reward for winning state elections), were the electoral districts laid out in a completely non-partisan way, by say making them as compact as possible, the Republicans would still have about half the advantage they do now. That is because Democratic support is so densely concentrated in city centers, where they win 80+% of the vote. The country outside of major cities is strongly Republican, but in a way which is spread out evenly over suburban districts. In the fairest possible drawing of electoral districts, Democrats would still be winning many of their districts with 80+% of the vote, while Republicans would have a large tally that they win with just 50-55%. Democrats would only see the full benefits of their popular vote advantage if we switched to some form of proportional representation.

CaptainRon in reply to dismal6103

Not to excuse it but the number of states gerrymandered by Republicans dwarfs those by their counterparts. There's also the scale. Do you think those states that you mentioned could have a party staying in control despite losing by 10 points?

Langosta

Virginia has become more Democratic over the years because Federal Government employees, who work in the DC Area, have hosed up Maryland so badly that they couldn't afford to pay the state and local property taxes required to live there anymore. Now they are moving to infect Virginia with liberalism, and turn it into a high-tax, slow-growth state, like every other Blue State that people abandon as soon as they get enough money to leave.
.
These people hate Trump and the Republicans because "Drain the Swamp" means "downsize the Federal bureaucracy" that feeds them.
.
In the meantime, the primary trend of Trumpublicanism rolls on. The tax law that went into effect on January 2nd caps the deduct-ability of state and local income taxes from the federal income tax. From now on, when Liberals vote to impose massive state and local taxes in their states, they will be paying them full fare. If Virginians elect Democrats who raise their taxes, they will be paying every nickel out of their own pockets.

CaptainRon in reply to Langosta

Drain the swamp is the biggest scam out there. If his choice of cabinet members and the number of times he has tried to put through massive tax cuts for the rich and corporations didn't clue you in then you'll never have a clue.

FingerofFate in reply to Langosta

You mean that, due to the influx of liberal voters, Virginia might become a poor, badly-educated, low-growth state like California, New York or Massachusetts? And that if only VA remained conservative, it could stay in the ranks of rich, highly educated, economically dynamic states like Mississippi, Alabama or Arkansas?
...
The facts show that the blue states are wealthier and economically faster-growing than the red states. Most blue states are net donors to the Federal budget; most blue states are net recipients.

Langosta in reply to FingerofFate

Alabama's doing fine. Rockets for NASA and Boeing are built there. So are Airbus 380's. More multinational companies are setting up shop every day:
.
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/10/alabama-gains-auto-industry-clout-with-n...
.
New Toyota-Mazda plant boosts Alabama's influence in the auto industry
Toyota and Mazda will build a new final assembly plant in Huntsville, Alabama.
The plant will employ 4,000 workers and crank out up to 300,000 vehicles annually. It is scheduled to open in 2021.
The plant could make Alabama the fourth-biggest state in the U.S. when it comes to auto manufacturing.
=
I don't know about Arkansas. Bill and Hillary Clinton say it's a progressive place, but they're rednecks.

jouris

The Republicans would probably have been better off had they lost the draw. Then, their constituents wouldn't have expected them to push through a highly partisan agenda. And they would have had an excuse to demonstrate that they can actually contribute to getting real government done.
.
As it is, their options are:
-- Do what their base demands. Thereby alienating the growing majority of Virginia's voters and guaranteeing even bigger losses next time.
-- Go the governing route anyway, lose in the primaries to worse fanatics, and thus see their party routed in the next general election.
.
Not an appetizing prospect for any Republicans able to see more than a year ahead.

Joe Marlowe

Nowhere in the article does the author mention the two most important facts in the story:
.
1. The Democrats received roughly 10% more votes state-wide than the Republicans.
.
2. Gerrymandering.
.
This result is a disgrace.
It is an affront to the most basic principles of democracy.