not as Republican as you’d think

Brent Finnegan -- November 8th, 2006

So I was wrong about H’burg going for Webb, but the margin of victory was less than one percent (70 votes). I knew Allen would sweep the county, so his 69 – 29 victory was no surprise there. Today the DNR ran two closely related stories: Valley is a Stronghold for Allen, and Marriage Amendment Boosts Turnout. I seriously doubt that Allen would have won in the city without the marriage amendment.

But is the city a stronghold for Allen?

As conservative as Rockingham is, Harrisonburg votes more along the lines of the state as a whole. Look at how close it was here, and look at the current recount situation in the state. Compared to other Valley cities, it leans less Republican:

Harrisonburg: Allen 49.80% – 48.93% Webb
Winchester: Allen 50.29% – 48.51% Webb
Staunton: Allen 51.82% – 47.02% Webb
Waynesboro: Allen 56.28% – 42.74% Webb

Same thing in the Bush/Kerry election of ’04. Even though Bush took all four, the margin was smallest in H’burg. And if you look at last year’s election, H’burg picked three out of four Democrats. So, why does the city vote that way? I don’t think you can blame that difference on JMU students, most of whom vote absentee in their hometown (if they vote at all). And it’s certainly not undocumented immigrants… So, you tell me — what makes the city less conservative/Republican? I want some theories.


17 Responses to “not as Republican as you’d think”

  1. zen says:

    I’ve always wondered why (relatively) urban areas lean more liberal than conservative at large. And I have to believe that it is a matter of exposure. People in more populated places encounter more diveristy and realize that people of different races, colors, faiths, sexual orientations, etc…are not the threat that others may percieve them as. Perhaps there is more appreciation for the government provided services that are also more readily available in cities.

    I guess this theory could be tested by looking more closely at voting trends as they relate to population on a larger scale than you’ve done locally. But that’s my theory, and it seems to bear out based on what you’ve pointed to.

  2. forehead on keyboard says:

    I disagree. One can explain the results of this election as the public enforcing the 1994 Contract with America. Read this link:

    Isn’t it interesting that these results occurred 12 years after the contract was executed? I recall the 1994 GOP arguing that it takes about that long for Congressional power to absolutely corrupt the majority. Maybe they were right.

    I don’t think we are “not as conservative as you think.” Perhaps we are not as Republican as you think.

  3. finnegan says:

    I don’t think we are “not as conservative as you think.” Perhaps we are not as Republican as you think.

    Fair enough… After all, the marriage amendment passed with a much larger margin than Allen did here, which means lots of people were voting for Webb and for the amendment.

  4. Kai says:

    Waynesboro is the only one of those cities without a university, right? Maybe the schools bring in a more proporationate constituency to the state/nationwide numbers..

  5. finnegan says:

    According to that Breeze article:

    Of all the Virginia schools, JMU has the second-highest voter registration among students, but not when it comes to registering locally.

    It could be partly that very small percentage students, but I’m thinking it could also be the JMU staff & faculty.

  6. forehead on keyboard says:

    Hey! You changed the headline from “conservative” to “Republican” — now my previous comment makes no sense!!! :)

  7. maryloohoo says:

    Webb is not your average democrat either. Perhaps his military record and history with the Reagan administration made him more “attractive” to voters in this area than other democratic candidates may have been.

  8. finnegan says:

    With the exception of a few local offices in Richmond, maybe Charlottesville, etc, there are very few (possibly no) liberal Democrat politicians in Virginia. To be an electable Democrat in this state, you must be a moderate. Webb and Warner fit the bill.

  9. Gene says:

    My good friend Forehead is so right. 2006 shows the wisdom of the Contract With America’s TERM LIMITS provision. In retrospect, that was the key provision of the Contract. Whether it failed because the Republicans didn’t really believe in the idea or whether it failed because power seduced the party, 2006 shows that 12 years is the limit in modern America. If the Republicans had passed term limits as promised, the senators from Virginia would/could be George Allen-R (assuming he jettisoned the Kilgoreite negative campaign plan) and James Webb-R (a natural moderate-conservative heir and protector of the naval-industrial complex to John Warner).

    Conservatives did not abandon the Republican party in 2006; the party abandoned too many of us in the last six years. The Republicans can come back to us in anticipation of 2008 or they can let us free to vote for a good man like James Webb rather than a “good”/correct party. I have and will continue to be a fan of the George Allen of 1994/2000, but the party cannot expect me and my friends to reject a candidate such as James Webb if the Republicans do not follow thru with their conservative promises/plans. I stayed with the party in 2004 and tried to influenced my friends such as The Fighter (shameless plug for to stay with President Bush, and I stayed with the party in 2006 (without trying to sway The Fighter and other friends who no longer looked so misguided), but I and those like me are waiting for a return to Reagan and 1994 before we decide who we will support in the future.

  10. finnegan says:

    Yeah, but why wait for a return to something when you can move forward?

  11. cook says:

    I think Gene means that we ought to move forward by returning to the principles of limited government, fractured power, and fiscal responsibility. The problem with these principles, though, is that it is easy to proclaim them while in the minority; once in the majority, it is very difficult even for a good man to continue to espouse these principles. See, for example, Goodlatte’s self-imposed term limit pledge. It’s about power.

  12. Gene says:

    Useful reminder, Finnegan. If the Repubs only return to 1994 ideas, then they will gain only nostalgia and fail to provide useful leadership. If the Repubs return to 1994 ideals, then they will gain revival and usefully succeed. What’s it going to be: nostalgia or revival?

  13. zen says:

    Let’s also not forget that in 1990’s we had a very competent, visionary executive.

  14. finnegan says:

    Something else I realized when looking over the results…

    The East Central precinct of the city (Spotswood Elementary) voted 61 percent for Webb, and 62 percent against the marriage amendment. Is this JMU? What precinct would they vote in?

  15. Adam Sharp says:

    Spotswood precinct has the “Old Town” apartment houses, while Stone Spring has the apartment complexes (South View, Ashby, the Commons, etc). My experience at JMU led me to see the “Old Town” students to be more likely to be locally registered. However, there are many professors and JMU-affiliated staff living in Old Town, and I think you’re seeing the liberal/progressive vote coming from that group.

    Technically the JMU campus (and therefore on-campus students) is included in the Spotswood precinct (hence it’s small size but potentially large population). However these students are the least likely to register locally, since there is a stubborn registering myth that if you register away from your home (where your parents live), you may lose your dependent tax status and financial aid. I’ve heard this several times but never heard of a student who was penalized in this manner.

    Most on-campus students and apartment complex students at JMU are registered “back home” and vote absentee.

    And you’re forgetting the growth in Democratic strength in the north-west (Waterman) precinct. EMU professors and staff are increasingly voting Democratic (or Green – 29 votes for Parker?), especially after the Iraq invasion. A socially conservative, anti-war, anti-poverty candidate would do very well in the Mennonite community, but at this point just being anti-war seems to be enough in the city. The county Mennonites are a tougher group to pull.

  16. finnegan says:

    Interesting analysis, Adam. Thanks.

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