By now, for anybody paying attention, it is very clear that it is the “enthusiasm gap” that will result in expected substantial gains for the Republicans in next Tuesday’s mid-term elections.
Democratic leaders have been working overtime trying to ramp up the interest and energy within their traditional support bases, and while there are some signs of life, it is hard to imagine a level of excitement can be generated in the few short days left to derail the GOP juggernaut going into Nov. 2.
Thus. with election day turnout the big factor, it is hard to predict that Democrats are safe in even the safest of congressional districts, and that goes for incumbent Congressmen Jim Moran and Gerry Connolly in Northern Virginia’s 8th and 11th Districts, respectively.
They both been chased by their Republican counterparts – Patrick Murray in the 8th and Keith Fimian in the 11th – relentlessly, aided by plenty of outside dollars and campaigning by statewide and national Republican heavyweights.
But in the course of the last two months, as the number of debates and public appearances became too many to count, the News-Press has become only more convinced that its early endorsements of Connolly and Moran made just after Labor Day were spot on.
The partisan rhetoric that characterized the Republican candidates’ arguments throughout the campaign is the same as it’s always been, slightly modified to take Obama’s recession-busting and reform efforts into account.
But for the fact that a good segment of the whole nation has been whipped up about this election – focused on the Obama presidency for an array of reasons, including non-verbal ones – the standard GOP mantra would not generate any more votes in Northern Virginia than last time, and in the case of Moran’s district, in 10 previous elections.
It is the height of irony that in this region, where unemployment is the lowest in the U.S., and federal stimulus dollars are choking the region with aggressive new development projects, the same standard GOP rhetoric used all over the U.S. about Obama’s failed stimulus and other reforms is repeated here.
Moran and Connolly are both seasoned veterans of reliable service to this region, each starting with years of leadership at the local level before ascending to Congress. Their opponents have never held public office at any level and they have not evidenced the slightest ability to do anything except read from the standard Republican playbook.
Voters here who want to punish Washington, D.C. or Obama by voting against the obviously superior choices in next week’s election do so at their peril. In plenty of other regions in the U.S., where choices may be less clear or the rising tide of anti-incumbency impossible to stem, it may be different. But the two incumbents that represent this part of Northern Virginia are too valuable to this region, and to the national policy debate, to skewer for the sake of a bigger point.