Prince William News
Wed., Nov. 14 - as-population-shifts-in-pw-so-does-its-politics
As population shifts in PW, so does its politics
© Gainesville TimesThe 2012 election proved that are three truths about Prince William County when it comes to politics.
No longer is the county a toss-up bellwether at the presidential level: it leans Democratic.
In statewide races, Prince William is still a swing county. It trends Democratic for U.S. Senate but Republican for state government.
However, in local races that involve district lines, it is decidedly Republican.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) discussed the results of the presidential election during a phone interview on Nov. 7.
That happened to be the day after his party's presidential nominee lost the commonwealth's 13 electoral votes and former Sen. George Allen (R) lost his second consecutive race for his former seat.
"Give credit to where credit is due," said Cuccinelli, referring to the Democrats and their turnout operation. "They performed, they did their job even better than '08. They had to because they didn't have the '08 enthusiasm."
Cuccinelli lives in Nokesville and saw first-hand how the local Republican turnout operation functioned in the months and weeks leading up to the Nov. 6 election.
He explained that the local GOP had "plenty of enthusiasm," even though the election numbers told a different story.
While Virginia as a whole granted Pres. Obama a 51 percent to 47 percent win, Prince William swung toward the Democrat's way 57 percent to 41 percent: a 16-percentage point gap.
An analysis of precinct-by-precinct results in the county showed that Romney only managed to carry three magisterial districts: Brentsville, Gainesville and Coles. Obama held him under 50 percent in the latter two and Brentsville was only a couple points different.
Between Coles and Occoquan, Obama edged out Romney in total number of precincts won 14 to 10.
Where Romney lost the election and Obama dominated was the eastern half of the county.
Romney won only one precinct out of 32 between Potomac, Woodbridge and Neabsco. Obama didn't just win the rest, but he won by double digits in all of them.
In fact, while Romney squeaked out a 2-3 percent victory in Brentsville, Obama routed Romney by more than 45 percentage points in Woodbridge.
The vote spread was so severely slanted toward Obama in the eastern part of the county that the 1,351 vote difference between Obama and Romney in Neabsco's Godwin precinct completely erased Romney's entire advantage between Brentsville, Gainesville and Coles combined.
According to Cuccinelli, for the GOP, "This was the first in a presidential election where there had been a sustained effort on the ground in Prince William."
He noted, however, that while the GOP outposts from 2008 "went away" after that election, the president's organization "spent 3.5 quiet years finding their folks."
Cuccinelli declared that the Democrats' Election Day turnout operation was "speculator" and "extraordinary" instead of trailing off after early voting ended.
On the Saturday prior to the election, Cuccinelli made note in an e-mail he sent to supporters that early voting turnout appeared down from 2008 in key Democratic areas.
What he failed to note is that he sent out his missive before the heaviest days of early voter turnout began. For example, voters waited at the McCoart building in Woodbridge for two hours or longer during the afternoon on Nov. 10 to vote.
Obama won absentee and early votes by almost the exact same margin he won the county as a whole: 57 percent to 42 percent.
"The most Republican precincts were coming in at higher proportions than 2008 than the most Democratic precincts," said Cuccinelli.
He admitted thought that the numbers he reviewed through Nov. 1 did not "pick up the single biggest day" of early voting.
"They (Democrats) were the ones driving people to the polls at far more frequency than we were," said Cuccinelli.
Perhaps the main reason Romney lost eastern Prince William by such a large margin is because nationally he lost minority voters by levels of 40 to 80 percent.
Cuccinelli noted that "when you have a black candidate on a ballot, that is still historic. The fact that 2008 has come and gone does not change the unique nature of what's going on. And so you get different voting that is helpful to him."
Yet he agreed that Romney's dismal showing in black communities statewide, like Petersburg where he pulled in less than 10 percent of the vote, is non-sustainable for a candidate hoping to win.
"You've got to make some effort to be competitive everywhere. You've got to be willing to engage even though you're going to lose overall," he said. "You've got to have a positive message, for starters... And you got to go out and do it. Some of this isn't rocket science, it's shoe leather."