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Sunday, November 13, 2011

The One That Got Away

Well, it's time to tally the score.

No, not the election results.  Those are in the history books.

But the score achieved by the Democrat-controlled Virginia Senate in its effort to redistrict such as to give its beleaguered membership as much voting strength in Richmond as was possible.

As everyone now knows, it can be stated as fact that the effort had successes and failures.  With a lot more of the latter than the former.

For those of you who have forgotten how that redistricting went, the Democrats early on, because of a surging Republican Party, decided that they needed to throw a lifeline to their brethren downstate.  Thus their redistricting this year gave [Edd] Houck [Spotsylvania] and [Roscoe] Reynolds [Martinsville] a respective 6 percent and 7 percent increase in likely Democratic voters.

Precious Democratic voters.

And how did that work out?

Both lost.

So where did they succeed?

Unfortunately in my backyard.

The 38th District, where Democrat Phil Puckett beat Republican Adam Light 53% to 47% (click on the map to enlarge it):

A few points:

1) Much can be made of the questionable tactics that Light adopted to unseat the incumbent Puckett (getting caught up in a controversy over Social Security, of all things, was a rookie mistake for which he paid dearly).  True enough.

2) It can be said that Puckett ran a flawless campaign.  Make no mistake, he did.  His TV ad campaign in particular was perfection.

3) Some would say that Light going after Puckett on the coal issue was a mistake, coal being Puckett's strong suit.  I would disagree.  As the legislative district is drawn, he/she who wins the coal counties in the 38th, wins the election.

Let's look at the election results by county, and let's generalize by designating those counties as being "coal" or "non-coal."

First, overall results by county:

Now, coal counties (and the city of Norton) alone:

Puckett won 55-45.

And in the non-coal counties (and Radford):

A complete reversal.

The difference?  Southwest Virginia's coal counties - by Democrat design - brought in 74% of the total votes cast.  Ensuring the election to coal-friendly Phil Puckett. (Don't listen to the political rhetoric - Puckett is in tight with the coal miners.  And pay every attention to Puckett's divorcing himself early on from anti-coal Barack Obama.  Those two factors alone doomed Adam Light, even if he had run a brilliant campaign.)

Say what you will about the Democrats getting their heads handed to them in Tuesday's statewide election.  And take satisfaction in seeing Houck and Reynolds get sent packing.  In Southwest Virginia's 38th District their plan came off masterfully.

Next time, though.  Just wait till next time ...

* Map courtesy of the Virginia Division of Legislative Services.

** Numbers furnished by the Virginia Board of Elections.

*** It's no mistake that poor little Bland County gets thrown into the 38th District by the Democrats.  As evidenced by the election Tuesday - as well as the presidential election of 2010 - Bland is the reddest county in the Commonwealth.  Puckett simply overwhelmed our puny numbers.