Former Virginia House of Delegates member, Chris Saxman of New South Strategic Partners, penned an interesting article over at the Daily Caller last week: “Are Virginians Bored of Politics?”. In part, Saxton says:
The most important divide in any election is between those who vote and those who do not. Virginia voters this year are very disengaged from this race. The political class is engaged, as always, but without enthusiasm.
Since Virginians are blessed and cursed with a consequential election every year, they know when to focus on political campaigns. Previously just a bellwether before the congressional mid terms, Virginia is now an electorally important battleground state. And coming off a presidential election in which it was key, Virginia voters are on political vacation until Labor Day
I’ve been in the Virginia area since 1992 and, I admit, our seemingly never-ending political seasons took some getting used to. Maybe it is my law and economics background from the George Mason School of Law. I see waste, political economic waste, just about everywhere. But it is not because Virginia has an important election just about every year.
Earlier this week, Virginia’s GOP Gubernatorial candidate, Ken Cuccinelli told Newsmax:
[i]n some parts of Virginia, the tea party has been not quite staying home, but pretty close to it. They’re just not terribly motivated, or they’re retired or worn out or depressed or something … And that’s a problem … That’s a problem when principle-based voters won’t come out to volunteer.
Fair assessment? Tough to tell. He may be just engaging in political kabuki to fire folks up.
Whereas in just every other state in the Union voters have a break between high-stakes elections, Virginians have important elections every year. Frankly, at times, this process can lead to political waste, inefficiencies, and can exhaust the state party apparatus as well as resources such as donors and volunteers. There is some of that in the system right now. It is not new. Both political parties have to deal with it or risk losing big in the future.
If you study Virginia political history, the strong two-party system was something that developed late (at least compared to other states). There was a time here, not to long ago, when it was tough to tell the difference between a Republican and a Democrat. The “every year” election is part remnant of this time, as well as some other historical factors. Is it time to change it? Not sure it needs to be. At least not yet. In fact, there is a lot of good in this system because it does keep folks on their toes.
It could be time for both Democrats and Republicans to possibly figure out a way to campaign more efficiently. For example, by making better use of technology and communication tools that are now available to candidates and issue movements. Yleem and I were delegates to the Virginia GOP convention this year but we opted not to attend, a few weeks before, because of the incessant robo calls and literature drops. There are ways to sustain interest without creating the conditions that lead to voter fatigue that Cuccinelli is talking about.
I agree with Saxton that come Labor day, all hell is going to break lose. And all Virginians who follow politics, no matter their ideological background, look forward to that day just about as much as the start of football season. Read Saxton’s article here.