Next Time, Bring the House

In Virginia’s 4th District, the votes for Obama, Kaine, and Ward were respectively 21,2091, 21,6638, 14,9798, and the votes for Romney, Allen, Forbes were respectively 22,9422, 22,3837, 19,9032, according to calculations I made based on numbers from the Virginia Board of Elections .

The counts for presidential votes were very close to the counts for senatorial votes. The count for each house candidate was much lower, but incumbent Randy Forbes received about 87 percent of the Romney vote, while Ella Ward received closer to 71 percent of the Obama votes*. It seems like a lot of Virginia’s 4th district voters who voted for Obama also voted for Tim Kaine, but failed to vote for Ella Ward.

I make two conclusions. First, this election wasn’t just about race. Second, getting the word out about house races is extremely important. I’m certain that people who voted for Obama and Kaine but not Ward didn’t know who Ella Ward was. Randy Forbes significantly outspent Ella Ward because of his big money supporters, and he had the power of incumbency.

Perhaps I’m in no position to second guess the president’s or Tim Kaine’s successful campaigns, but while volunteering for OFA, I handed out a lot of literature about Obama and Kaine, and nothing about Obama, Kaine, and Ward together. It was a prevailing myth among OFA coordinators that people who vote for Obama will vote down the line, and that it wasn’t worth the effort to tailor the call scripts and the literature for each congressional district. Volunteers were instructed to put in a good word for Dr. Ward, but it wasn’t in writing.

It’s understandably more difficult to find a photo of each house candidate and more expensive to place a photo on the literature that includes photos of Obama, Biden, and Tim Kaine. But we handed out literature customized with information about voting locations. That literature should also have included information about Ella Ward, even without a photo.

I don’t how much Obama-Kaine-[Other Congressional Candidate] literature was distributed throughout the state, and since Obama and Kaine both lost the 4th, it’s possible that house candidates in more hopeful districts received more support from OFA and TK4VA than Ella Ward did. But I do know that the House of Representatives didn’t change very much this time, and I think a little bit of ink would have gone a long way to giving the president a Congress he can work with.

*Quick update (at Nov 9th 19:00): The Virginia Board of Elections just updated their website with absentee ballots. Ella Ward took Suffolk! She was behind when I checked the numbers just yesterday. It seems now that Ella Ward got 77 percent of the Obama votes, and Randy Forbes got 106 percent of the Romney votes.

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