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.

Vote

I had the pleasure of drafting Ella Ward’s final campaign email message (not counting a note about an election night party which we sent later). After a few changes, it went out as follows:

This has been a contentious campaign season for politicians at all levels, but President Barack Obama has endured the most outrageous accusations, dishonest attacks, and distorted rumors directed towards him than any other candidate that I can remember.

If the president is defeated next week, the United States will return to the economic policies that started the recession from which we’re recovering, social policies which would codify bigotry and discrimination into national law, environmental policies which would destroy our beautiful and bountiful natural resources, and national security policies which kept America engaged in seemingly endless wars while our number one enemy escaped retribution.

But even when we re-elect President Obama, he will need the support in Congress to prevent the kind of gridlock, distraction, and damage that his opposition has given us over the past four years. Randy Forbes has been one of the most obstructionist Republicans in Congress during his tenure. Randy Forbes is committed to defeating legislation that would allow the president to succeed, even if doing so brings discrimination and economic hardship to his constituency.

I will support the President as he works to keep America safe, beautiful, equitable, and moving forward. I will fairly represent the people of the 4th Congressional District in Virginia, not just the wealthiest and the most influential residents.

Opponents to the President and supporters such as Tim Kaine and me have been feverishly motivating their base to get to the polls this November. They have used fear-mongering about socialism, gun grabbing, terrorism, and economic collapse to scare their supporters to the polls.

We need you to counter the effects of the distortions and lies and vote for Barack Obama, Tim Kaine and me, Ella Ward, on November 6th – and get your friends and neighbors to do so as well. A win for Barack Obama, Tim Kaine, and me will be a win for truth, a win for fairness, a win for Virginia, and a win for America.

And, if you can help out at the polls handing out sample ballots, please call our office and volunteer.

Thank you, sincerely, for all you’ve done and will do to keep America moving forward.

Ella Ward

Mitt Romney, who once said

“The people of America recognize that the slowdown in jobs that occurred during the early years of the Bush administration were the result of a perfect storm. And an effort by one candidate to somehow say ‘Oh, this recession and the slowdown in jobs was the result of somehow this president magically being elected,’ people in America just dismiss that as being poppycock. And they recognize it as that.”

is now saying just that, despite Obama’s expert navigation through a perfect storm including the incredibly steep and sudden loss of jobs that he had to deal with when he took office, the financial disaster in Europe which continues today as the European Economic Union fails to solve its problems with right-wing austerity measures, and the most obstructionist Congress in recent history. This obstructionist Congress even blames the president for their own actions, including the sequestration which Paul Ryan encouraged and the downgrade of the U.S. bond rating which resulted from a Republican-led near government shutdown.

It’s time now to vote. There are more people in America who want Obama in office than who want Romney in office, but Republicans are considered to be more reliable voters. They are more likely than Democrats to be financially secure, to own homes and to have lived at the same address for decades. It’s easier for them to take a few hours off of work, to find a baby sitter, and to drive to the polls. They are more familiar with their polling locations and are more likely to know people who will be working at those locations. And they are fired up with mean, dishonest rhetoric about socialism, gun control, accusations that Obama is a Muslim (and it shouldn’t matter even if he was a Muslim because Constitution makes it clear that it shouldn’t matter, but it matters to the bigots who won’t vote for him because they think he is), lies about the economy, and about health care. And now they are fired up because of an eerily timed vicious attack on our embassy, one of very few during this administration compared to previous administrations, but one about which mean and crazy speculations are popping up faster than can be put down before Tuesday. They’re even blaming Obama for the results of Hurricane Sandy, a storm likely caused by climate change which Republicans want to ignore, which FEMA, an agency Romney wants to defund is handling as quickly as possible.

It might rain on Tuesday. You might be tired after a long day at work. You might have to drag the kids with you. You might have to walk. But if you do, you will be part of the most important election in decades. In this election we will see if slanderous attacks and crazy accusations are more important to voter turnout than the will of the majority of Americans. I’m betting on the majority but it’s no sure thing as the polls show a dead heat in the final days of this race. Don’t let this race pass you by. Be part of it. Vote.

Keynesian Hypocrisy

I don’t believe Grover Norquist has given up on his lie that government can’t create jobs, but I’ve been getting fliers and phonecalls from his organization, Americans for Tax Reform, blaming Tim Kaine for letting the Joint Forces Command close and putting 10,000 jobs at stake. Nowhere in the phone calls or the fliers is there mention of any military necessity for keeping the command open.

Flayer including: Tim Kaine [...] forgot to look out for Virginia [...] 10,000 jobs at stake [...] Who could have stopped the Joint Forces Command closure [...] ?

In fact, it was time for JFCOM to close. “We no longer require a separate four-star command to oversee joint warfighting”, said JFCOM’s last commanding officer, quoted here from PilotOnline.com, “We have progressed far enough and inculcated jointness deeply enough to realize efficiencies while simultaneously refining our efforts.”

But, according to ATR, Kaine should have fought harder to keep tax dollars flowing through an unnecessary military command because doing so would mean jobs in Virginia.

Conservatives, including Norquist, know that government spending can create jobs, and that’s a scary fact. It’s scary because no matter who gets elected in November, the economy will go up and down, and there will be times when the President has to take action keep Americans in their jobs. But Romney won’t be able promote spending on any kind of stimulus or jobs bill unless he completely reverses himself again and becomes a Keynesian. While that’s very possible, he’s still more likely to promote spending in the only way Republicans find it easy to do so: by citing a threat and increasing military operations.

Republicans know that government spending can and does create jobs. Ronald Reagan doubled the national dept mostly through military spending, and Rick Perry boasted jobs in Texas when much of those jobs came from the government and stimulus spending.

The Keynesian model, contrary to popular rhetoric, isn’t an upward spiral of taxing and spending. But it includes the idea that when the economy slows, the government should take steps to help. Taxes should be cut during a stalled economy, and, also contrary popular rhetoric, the Obama administration has done so.

Tim Kaine supports plans that create jobs. Tim Kaine and George Allen are both former Virginia Governors, but under Kaine, the tax burden for Virginians was lower than it was under Allen, and Forbes Magazine rated Virginia best for business and careers.

Government can help create jobs by investing in education to make American workers more productive than less expensive competition overseas, finding new sources of energy, and building a superior infrastructure that makes doing business in American more efficient than anywhere else.

But today, conservatives want to keep saying that government doesn’t create jobs while falsely accusing Tim Kaine of not trying hard enough to protect government created jobs in Virginia.