Should we be surprised by Virginia's election?


When voters don't turn out to vote: Last year, in November 2020, an election was held in Virginia.

The candidates were Biden and Trump. Candidate Biden won by ten points. Including votes for independent candidates, 4.46 million votes were cast.

Yesterday's turnout was much smaller, as is routinely the case in an "off-year" election. In yesterday's election, roughly 3.3 million people turned out. Candidate Youngkin won by two points.

How did we go from a 10-point Democratic win to a 2-point Democratic loss? In part, it concerns the million-plus people from last year who didn't turn out to vote.

More than a million of last year's voters didn't cast votes this time. Some of those previous voters have died. Most simply didn't turn out.

Now for human nature:

As a general matter, people who are dissatisfied with the status quo are more likely to turn out. In Virginia, the party that loses the presidential election has tended to win the gubernatorial race the following year.

Sure, you say. But how can we explain the sheer size of the change in this year's vote? 

We can only tell you this:

In 2008, Candidate Obama won the presidential race in Virginia by 6.3 points. The following year, the GOP candidate won the gubernatorial race in the state by a walloping 17 points.

(Rachel spent the next several years trying to get him locked up.)

That was a 23-point turnaround. This year, the turnaround was a much smaller twelve points.

Youngkin won by only two points. What might McAuliffe have done to squeak by?

We can imagine several things. As for the rest of our liberal tribe, we might consider "trying a little tenderness" a tiny amount of the time. 

We might try name-calling Others less. We might even try Dr. King's admittedly silly "love ethic of Jesus," which John Lewis never abandoned.

We should consider the possibility of being less horrible people. After all, when we inform The Others of their obvious racism, you know how such "lessers" react!


  1. "In part, it concerns the million-plus people from last year who didn't turn out to vote."

    What, not enough dead people voted this time around? How inconsiderate of them.

  2. That’s right. Remember Bob gets to call names, not you.

    1. I’ve been reading Kevin Drum’s comment boards.

      If Bob plagiarized their generally reasonable (not that I agree with their POV) comments as his blog offerings, he’d still qualify as a pretend liberal in your book.

      How did Somerby get stuck with so many angry and extreme anonymices?

    2. Sometimes it seems they are here to provide an exhibition of what he criticizes. But that doesn't answer your question!

    3. 4:33,
      Its his repeating of discredited, nonsensical Right-wing memes.
      Are you new here?

    4. "We should consider the possibility of being less horrible people."

      Here is an example of why anonymous commenters are upset with Somerby.

      Even horrible people don't consider themselves horrible -- look at Cecelia. I would much rather align myself with the left than the right, given what I see in the news and online.

      I'm supposed to be less horrible by thinking that JFK Jr. is coming back from the dead?

      I'm supposed to be less horrible by telling everyone I know that ivermectin is much better than getting a covid shot?

      I'm supposed to be less horrible by excusing Trump and his army of grifters who steal from everyone, including taxpayers and his own supporters?

      I'm supposed to be less horrible by aligning myself with white supremacists who attack synagogues and call black children names while dragging older back people behind their trucks until they are dead?

      I'm supposed to be less horrible by aligning with those who will not raise a limp wrist to save our planet from climate change?

      And so on. Somerby has a great deal of nerve calling US horrible people while the right seems to have gone crazy with self-destruction.

      Why is it that I only see yard signs exhorting people to be kind and demonstrate tolerance in liberal neighborhoods? In right wing neighborhoods, I see Trump flags and Fuck You Biden signs, because these are not nice people at all. In fact, I think Somerby is majorly confused about who is horrible and who is not these days.

    5. "To be less horrible", all you need to do, dear dembot, is to get some brains and stop being a bot.

    6. Somerby thinks we’re all horrible and he’s often right.

    7. Cecelia, you could pledge to work to root out the ugly tribalism on your side as a way of mitigating the horribleness of your tribe, rather than just coming here to accuse liberals of horribleness. We can pledge to do the same. How about it?

    8. You got it. I’ll start with Mao.

    9. Mao's gibberish makes way more sense than Republican "economics".

    10. That’s because you think economics is synonymous with politics.

    11. No. It's because economic ideas pushed by Republicans is worse gibberish than Mao's ravings.

    12. Once they get you to fall for supply-side economics, getting you to believe QAnon conspiracies is child's play.

    13. You couldnt fill a high school gym with the people who espouse qanon theories.

      The only people focused on that stuff are kooky far right-wingers and far lefties.

      In other words- morons.

    14. Agreed that you'd have to be a moron to espouse QAnon conspiracy theories and supply-side economics.
      BTW, which Republican politicians or Republican voters don't espouse supply-side economics?

  3. "After all, when we inform The Others of their obvious racism, you know how such "lessers" react!"

    Yes, Somerby showed us that yesterday, with his columns about Laura Murphy.

    Several pundits are claiming that Youngkin won because parents are upset with the schools over how they handled covid, not because of CRT.

    The media, of course, will be writing more of their Democrats in disarray, Biden is sinking, and Democrats are going to lose in 2022 stories, which is THEIR standard narrative. Somehow this is not on Somerby's radar as a media critic, despite claiming to be liberal himself.

    This is equivalent to the Hillary screwed up stories that appeared in some form nearly every day during her presidential campaign. This is how the media puts its thumb on the scales against liberal candidates, but Somerby couldn't be bothered to notice it. He is too busy helping conservative candidates by repeating the anti-CRT stories and defending right-wing wrongdoing.

    Cecelia and her new conservative pals, who seem to have just arrived here to spew disinformation and ridiculous nonsense, need to stop pretending they are here to read the blogger. Their actual job here is to annoy liberals and anyone who takes issue with Somerby's daily garbage. They never make a substantive or cogent comment and frequently display sentiments that clearly make them the "horrible people" in this neighborhood.

    1. Tsk. How sad. Poor dembot can't do her dembottery in peace anymore. What's the world coming to?

    2. Anonymouse 6:13pm, you can actually like Somerby and his blog and not be a troll.

      I find myself liking Kevin Drum and his blog. I often want to defend things that he says against a reasonable occasional critic who would probably respond reasonably. I may start commenting there.

      Believe it or not, none of these dynamics signal troll behavior.

      Troll harder, anonymouse.

    3. Kevin Drum is another aging blogger who is having problems adjusting to changing times. He knows very little about statistics and data modeling, except how to make graphs. He doesn't do a good job of thinking about what numbers means (aka interpreting data). He has a tendency to create graphs that will show that nothing has changed or that differences claimed by others are not real, using graphs which he has manipulated for that purpose. He doesn't understand sampling theory. People challenge him on these points regularly in comments but that doesn't change what he writes.

      At least he isn't actively working for conservative causes and spreading disinformation.

    4. “ At least he isn't actively working for conservative causes and spreading disinformation.”

      By 2023 Anonymices will be so militant that they make Drum a pariah too.

    5. It is militant to be against disinformation? That's almost as ridiculous as Somerby calling liberals horrible people. This discussion is getting very silly.

    6. 8:11,
      It's ALL negotiable, except the bigotry.

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  5. Does Somerby think that every election that Democrats lose is because liberals are hateful and ugly to The Others, particularly about race?

    Is it true in this specific case of Virginia? He hasn’t made any case to that effect.

    How does this apply when Democrats win elections?

    Democrats do need a strategy to win more in red states, but I don’t see Democratic candidates going around insulting the voters in those states.

    1. Here is part of Taegan Goddard's analysis at Political Wire:

      "Likewise in Virginia, the Democratic momentum was seriously damaged by a series of rolling scandals. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) survived a bizarre “blackface costume” controversy, then his heir apparent, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), became embroiled in a series of sexual assault allegations that are still unresolved. By turning to Northam predecessor Terry McAuliffe, the Democrats went all-in defending the status quo in a year when economic conditions and social cohesion are objectively very difficult to defend."

      Nothing here about CRT or liberals being mean to The Other. This is what it looks like when a sane person analyzes an election, instead of a shill for conservative Trump supporters.

  6. America is an oligarchy with voter suppression and domestic terror groups and you want us to love our enemy? Are you high? Give us fair elections now you monsters.

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