Democrats eke out a win

by Beacon Staff • November 16, 2005

If you asked a Democrat's opinion about the results of Election Night 2005, that person would probably say it was foreshadowing what is to come in 2006 (and possibly 2008), and that the Democrats now have their own "mandate" to campaign on. If you asked a Republican the same question, that person would probably yawn.

And the reason for both responses would probably be Virginia.

Virginia was arguably the most prominent and talked about race in 2005. Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Jerry Kilgore were neck-in-neck in the polls for most of the year, running for the open gubernatorial seat. Many believed that Kaine's victory could turn the national tide for the flailing Democratic Party. When Kaine did win, the real story of the minor victory, however, was not the resurgence of the Democratic Party-it was of the strength of the Republican Party. The current Governor of Virginia is Democrat Mark Warner, who left office after one term because of state law. Warner has an approval rating in the low 70's and is also believed by many within his party to be a strong candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2008. Kaine, who was his lieutenant governor, ran for his gubernatorial spot.

The question is, if Warner is so popular and Kaine so close to his administration, why wouldn't Virginians elect Lieutenant Governor of Virginia Kaine to replace Warner, continuing the Democratic trend in that state?

A Time.com article posted on Nov. 8 entitled "How the Dems won Virginia" notes that "the party in the White House has not won a Virginia Governor's race since 1973."

Yet, many people expected Kilgore to win the election because he was ahead in most polls a mere few weeks before the election. In the election results (released at Rasmussenreports.com), Kaine beat Kilgore by only 6 percent of the vote. Considering that 2 percent of the vote went to independent Russell Potts, the election proves nothing except that the Democrats are not as invincible as they thought they were in Virginia. If 4 percent of the population had changed its votes and chosen the "right" side of things, then Republicans would not only have beaten a 32-year precedent, but they also would have beaten the hand-picked successor to the popular Warner.

Did the Democrats really have a great victory on Election Day 2005? That's what they want you to think. What you should be thinking is, if the Democrats really had a strong win, why didn't they gain any new positions and why were the positions they retained so narrowly decided by the voters?

The Democrats' so-called victory of 2005 will be remembered as the day that they retained their positions of power without losing anything-which is okay by me. When the Democrats are celebrating retaining their own positions without gaining anything, that is a good day for the Republicans-who still control the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives and the majority of governorships in this country.

John Hanlon is a senior organizational and political communication major and a contributer to The Beacon. He is also Press Secretary of the SGA, though the views expressed above are not in any way associated with the organization.