Virginia House of Delegates 2005 Elections

Keeping You up to date on the status of Virginia's 2005 Delegate races!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Primary Predictions Perfect

A few people have asked us to review our predictions for the primary.

They were perfect!

Before we go over them one by one, pay attention to this. Elections are not static things. They move all the time, in little steps and big jumps.

Primaries are particularly hard to call because of the low turnout, and the different types of turnout each candidate is targeting. Just because their plan is good, or they are running the right kind of campaign does not mean the voters will be there for them.

With that in mind, it's impossible to see how we could have done better.

On the statewide races, with bloggers split in many different camps spinning you on candidates, we cut through the spin.

We let you know why Bill Bolling was a favorite for Lt. Governor even while Connaughton was claiming a big move. In the end as we said, to win Connaughton would have to win two uphill battles, the McDonnell voters in Hampton Roads and the Kilgore voters in Southwest. He had a plausible argument to them, but in the end this went to Bolling as we expected.

We told you exactly what Fitch's goal was (and he fell a few points short of that) against Jerry Kilgore.

We explained why Leslie Byrne was going to win the Democratic primary. As we said it turned out almost exactly like the 1997 GOP primary. Most pundits were busy predicting a Petersen victory- he finished a distant third.

We also told you about Bob McDonnell's advantages among Northern Virginia Connaughton voters as well as Southwest voters and predicted his victory in the Attorney General's race.

House Races- Safe

We rated 5 primaries as "Safe" and projected all 5 to win in November:

Prediction Result
Toscano-------------------- Toscano by 30 points

Easy win for us here.

Bryant-------------------------- Bryant by 50 points

Another easy win for us.

Parrish--------------------------- Parrish by 10 points

This one closed hard at the end, but was never in doubt. Literally, at 6:59 p.m. on election day 10 points was the closest Chapman had been the entire race. We told you Chapman had got some momentum with the Cuccinelli endorsement, and we also told you that would not be enough to get back into this race.

Hargrove -----------------------Hargrove by 48 points.

Easy win for us.

Wardrup----------------------- Wardrup by 48 points.

Another easy win.

House Races- Likely

We rated two primaries as likely winners. Both won.

Golden--------------------------- Golden by 48 points

Easy win there, we probably should have called this one safe, but we were too busy with close races in the days before election day.

Howell---------------------------- Howell by 22

We told you Howell would win this one unless Boose could make a move with the "droopy drawers issue". She tried but never quite did it strongly enough to make this race close. Or maybe most people liked the bill....

House Races- Leans

Mason----------------------------- Mason by 21

We had this as "Likely Mason" to begin with and made it a "Leans Mason" when it became clear that Chap was going to drain some of his vote into the Democratic primary. Mason's win was very impressive considering that was happening at the same time.

Purkey----------------------------- Purkey by 26

In this Virginia Beach primary Purkey pulled away to a large victory over Councilman Peter Schmidt. This race started out a lot closer, but as Schmidt began making himself a one issue, pro tax increase candidate- Republican voters in the Beach couldn't stomach it. This race is a classic one where issues overrode personal popularity.

May-------------------------------- May by 19

Joe May had the clear edge here and gave us another correctly called race. We kept this as a "Leans" rather then a "Likely" because of this district voting so overwhelmingly against Russ Potts in 2003. Oprison could not capitalize on that and this margin was bigger then it should have been.

McEachin--------------------------- McEachin by 1.3%

Phew! This was the closest we came to losing a race where we listed a favorite. McEachin had the clear edge here, but low turnout combined with Miles making a fantastic showing in his home base of Charles City made this one an election night thriller. We hear much of the credit for Miles late surge goes to his campaign manager Kwame Boadi who our sources tell us is a rising star in the Virginia Democratic party. We'll keep an eye out for where he goes next.

House Races- Toss Ups

45th------------------------------ Englin by 5%

We had this as a Leans Garvey to begin, then a Toss Up, and finally towards the end a slight lean to Englin. Englin really survived a lot here which we will talk more about later, but once he made it through the fire, we could feel a victory coming on here in the last week.

37th------------------------------ Bulova by 12%

We had this as a leans Bulova and then moved it to a tossup as Chap rolled up momentum and turnout became very unpredictable. Probably should have just kept it where it was, but too many question marks came up here because of the top of the ticket turnout.

71st------------------------------- McClellan by 29%

We had this one as "Likely McClellan" and then moved it to a tossup. Again, top of ticket momentum had a big impact, it was hard to tell how well Viola would move her base with all the problems her campaign was having. We told you if Viola was over 70% in her district McClellan would win big. Well, Viola hit that number, and McClellan indeed won big.

30th------------------------------ Scott by 29%

Once again the primary turnout made this election a big question mark. As we saw numbers coming in on the turnout we called this one in the afternoon as a Scott victory, and that indeed held up big on election night. Democratic crossover was big here.

35th------------------------------ Hyland by 10%

This one was a wild race with Hyland getting outspent by almost a 4-1 margin. We got a lot of emails from people claiming Robinson was well ahead and it should be called for him. We feel good about ignoring all the fundraising hype and keeping this race as a tossup all the way through.

54th------------------------------ Orrock by 10%

We told you this would be the second best showing for an anti-tax candidate and indeed it was. Almost every polling place was close, but in the end Kenney could not win enough places to pull this out. Democratic crossover was the difference here by a lot.

75th------------------------------ Tyler by 5%

We told you this could go for Tyler, Flowers or Councill. On election night Tyler and Flowers went back and forth. In the end Councill pulled enough votes from Flowers, and Tyler was the most consistent district wide and won a historic victory.

67th------------------------------ Craddock by 32%

We had this as a tossup, but the Democrats turned on Reese late and without them he really turned into a lame duck. We called this one as going for Craddock all day long on election day, and he proved us right in a big way.

100% in the primary. We hope to be able to that again in November.


At 9:16 PM, Anonymous NoVA Scout said...

superb job. take a break. come back in november.

At 9:17 PM, Blogger Will Vehrs said...

Agreed--great job. Your name has spawned scores of imitators, but no equals.

At 9:17 PM, Anonymous NoVA Scout said...

Make that mid-October. We may need a little time to get oriented

At 11:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps I missed the Kool-Aid when reviewing your election results.

67th rated a "Toss-up" and Craddock wins by 32 points. That does not seem like a "toss-up" to me.

30th rated "Toss-up" and Scott wins by 29%. Ouch.

71st - "Toss-up" - McClellan wins by 29%.

Three of your other "Toss-up" races won by 12%, 10% and 10% - not very close.

As far as your "Leaner" races go:

Mason won by 21%, Purkey by 26% and May by 19%. I would call none of those "Leaners."

In the other "Leaner" - McEachin wins by 1.3% - a "Toss-up" if I have ever seen one.

Having a "likely" race where someone wins by 48% is not very accurate either.

Classifying 8 out of 14 House Primary Races (not counting your "Safe" races). classified as "Toss-up" is unimaginable. Even LS did better.

"Toss-Up" is not a synonym for "I don't know."

Most of the races even though picked correctly were way off base on how close they would be by big margins.

I guess you picked the winners correctly but if that is the criteria for successful prognostication then skip classifying races as "Toss-Up", "Leaners, "likely" etc. and just pick winners and losers.

Most of the commentators I read on this blog can do pretty well just picking winners. It is the analysis of the races that matters(and the fun info) and that is what was missed in your predictions.

At 2:22 AM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

Anon- You obviously know very little. In a primary 10% is less than 400 votes. I'm not Creskin here. And as I said, I moved the 67th and 30th as soon as we saw the turnout numbers in the A.M.

At 7:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's me again NLS. 400 votes in a 4,000 vote race is quite a lot as you know deep down inside. 10% is a big win no matter how you slice it.

Besides I quibble more with the fact that you had 3 "Toss-ups" before election day that had winners finish by an average of 30 percentage points. Aside from 3 others that won by 10 or more.

Aside from the three "leaners" that won by an average of 22 points.

I guess most people would come close to a "perfect record" if prognosticators waited until ELECTION DAY TURNOUT numbers to finalize predictions. Even the real Larry Sabato doesn't do that.

As far as knowing very little - let's let others decide.

PS. Also that was a good call on Englin. I do not want you to think this is personal as I do not even know you. Please refrain from personal attacks.

At 8:41 AM, Anonymous Not Mark Rozell said...

NLS, while I think much of your analysis is dead-on, let's cut the hyperbole. If you label a race a toss-up, you can't call it a correct prediction after one candidate is a clear winner. Toss-up is the same as cop-out and for that reason I tend to doubt that your predictions were really 100%. If you had actually made predictions in those races, I'd be willing to stand and salute you, even if a couple of them were wrong. The fact remains, we political hacks are like weathermen - we never get it 100% correct.

By the way, a third candidate has filed in the 37th. Surrounded by key supporters, David Bulova's pants announced an independent candidacy and is expected to gain Russ Potts' endorsement this morning. Neither of the existing candidates, Skeletor and Opie, had any comment.

At 8:49 AM, Anonymous The Colonel said...


Good call on the elections. The only thing that matters is the end result of an election not what it is classified as the day before. Measured by that standard you got everything right.

But what is more important to me is the implications of these results. Things like the continued failures of Tom Davis in dealing with the Republican Party base in Virginia and can David Englin's grassroots style efforts help other Democrats are what I think are really important. In the long run how a race is classified the day before the votes are casted is academic after the election is over.

At 9:02 AM, Anonymous Franken O'Reilly said...

Leave it to Not Mark Rozell to cut to the chase.

Claiming to correctly pick a "Toss-up" race when the winners win by more than 30 points is not a "Correct" pick.

In fact, in 8 races you picked no winner and most were not even relatively close.

Claiming you were "Perfect" in your predictions is as bad as most of the political claims on mail pieces we all laugh at.

At 9:16 AM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

Fine guys. You're right. I should have been able to pick 3,000 voters out of 45,000 registered in each house district, come up with an exact split, and seen a 400 vote spread.

Let me be clear. 8 tossups. 1 we gave a slight lean to (right). 2 were in statewide candidates districts that we warned you would have bizarre turnout. 3 others were decided by 10 points or less (which is very close in a PRIMARY, I agree it is not close for November). Two others broke late that we gave you multiple warnings was probably happening. In both of those as soon as we saw turnout (not an exit poll) we called it for you in the morning of election day.

Bash us in November when we get one wrong, but taking potshots for fun after the primary where we gave you more information then anywhere else is not encouraging me to continue into November.


At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You did a great job in keeping us informed on the races. I also enjoyed how those who were working the polls on Tuesday could post their count throughout the day.

I hope you take a well deserved break and get in some vacation time.

Keep us posted on any major news breaking items during the summer. Otherwise, "See you in September!"

At 9:34 AM, Blogger Hirons said...

NLS - I think we all agree you have done a great job thus far. How about adding "Edge" to Toss-Up races - whether the edge going to candidate with most money, party leaning district, most signs, or whatever other subjective criteria necessary. That'll give you the extra bump if you get the toss-up correct but you still have the excuse of leaving them in the toss-up category if they go against the edge.

At 9:37 AM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

Scott, we did do that. On the right hand side of the page we gave the top line to the person "more likely to win" in every race. The top line won every time.


At 9:38 AM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

And in the tossups for November, once again that is the case.

At 10:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Englin fan:

What Englin did was amazing. He came out of no where, survived some bad press, and won. But I'm unclear as to how that's transferable outside of the following circumstances:
(1) a primary election
(2) in a district that votes for Democrats 65-35.

Englin won on message, in my opinion. His organization was great, don't get me wrong. But how did he recruit that organization? How did he get that many volunteers to come to his house every night? Message.

1. Party building. In a time when the Democratic party is worse than pathetic nationally, and people are depressed about a permanent Republican Majority, this sort of rhetoric inspires people.

2. A well thought-out platform. Most candidates had this, but Englin's was above and beyond.

That being said - I've seen lots of gloating here and there from dems in the 45th that this election proves that the way to win elections is to be a true progressive, not republican-lite, etc. etc.

Spare me. That's a 65-35 district. That was a Democratic primary. Democrats need to reach out to Republican voters in general election contests, now more than ever.

To Englin's credit, he reached out to some Republicans with his mail pieces. In a district where Republicans have nothing else to vote for (ever!), that might have helped. Will it translate into votes for John Kerry or Hillary Clinton? Definitely NOT. Votes for Tim Kaine? Maybe.

At 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For starters, I don't understand what the big deal is with regards to when a posting was made to this blog calling the outcome of the Craddock race. Anyone who is a true activist was not sitting on their ass in front of a computer blogging all day anyway. The activists were out dragging voters to the polls.

That being said, I was a volunteer for Craddock that worked closely with the manager on election day. Once we saw the turnout numbers in the morning, we knew that we were in good position. Whoever "Not Larry Sabato" is ... you made a good choice to move the race into the Craddock WINS column early in the morning. It was obvious which way the race was swaying.

As for the Anonymous Blogger that is lobbing insults at NLS -- apparantly you think you have what it takes to accurately predict election results. If this is the case, start your own blog and we'll let you know how accurate you are come November.

At 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"By the way, a third candidate has filed in the 37th. Surrounded by key supporters, David Bulova's pants announced an independent candidacy and is expected to gain Russ Potts' endorsement this morning. Neither of the existing candidates, Skeletor and Opie, had any comment."

Ha ha ha.

At 10:19 AM, Blogger Not Mark Rozell said...

For those of you who want election coverage in November with no "toss-ups" we have begun a new blog at:

We'll be posting our first predictions in the next day or so.

At 11:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NMR - You're a blowhard.

NLS - In the words of Will Vehrs, "Your name has spawned scores of imitators, but no equals."

I can't wait to see someone come up with

Rock on, NLS!

At 12:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NLS-You did an incredible job with the primary and I offer my congratulations.
I hope that you will post soon on the seats that you haven't touched on yet (Districts 2-7 & 96, I believe), and then take a well-deserved rest until Labor Day.

At 12:09 PM, Anonymous The Colonel said...

As a volunteer for Englin's campaign I think there are lessons to learn from David's victory. The poster at 10:03 is right that running as true blue liberal will not work in alot of Virginia Districts. I think the lessons are:
1. The candidate has to have a detailed agenda that they really believe in (there is no ideological qualifier on this. A moderate can be just as sincere and genuine about their beliefs as a liberal or conservative)
2. The candidate's family and friends need to be on board 100%, which David had from day one
3. Whenever possible come up with a new idea or a program not being used in Virginia. When David spoke about ISaveRX (a prescription drug program) it helped him stand out as someone who really knew his stuff and had new ideas. If you run on just the same old stuff it is harder to get traction
4. Commit to a grassroots based operation that reaches out to people from day one. David was knocking on doors in January.
5. Never be afraid to reach out to good people who can help. For David this meant walking in the public housing projects when other candidates ignored that part of the district. For Republicans this might mean trying to reach out to socially conservative black churches or for Democrats talking to Republican women (especially in more affulent suburbs) about abortion and education.

At 12:27 PM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

Thank you anon 11:53.

anon 12:09- thanks also. i think you will be very excited when you see what we have planned this summer. Announcement coming later today

At 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Englin's strategy was sound for a 65-35 Dem district, you are right. His specific strategy would not work in a 50-50 district, but elements of it are essential.

Namely, grassroots/volunteer organization, voter contact up the wazoo, and a candidate who is above all else, responsive to people.

The major element that changes in a different district is message. Absolutely, you cannot use a progressive, party building message to win the swing vote. But a well defined strong message that has no hint of flip-floppage mixed with a great deal of listening and responsiveness to voters questions and concerns.

That, my fellow anonymous poster, is how Englin won. The content of the message was different, but the theme was pervasive. You could see it in what the candidate said, what their mail said, what their web site said, and even what volunteers were saying at the doors, at least at my door.

I doubt there was a voter who went to the polls on Election Day who did not know David Englin. And of those people, only those who chose to remain uninformed did not know what his message was. That is how you win elections.

Absolutely, it can be transferred to other more conversative districts. And I believe it will.

At 1:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last two Englin fans:

Good points. I agree.

At 2:03 PM, Anonymous The Colonel said...

I have a question, why has no one talked about how Tuesday was another example of Tom Davis flopping in Virginia? Considering that Sean Connaughton (who Davis pumped alot of money and support into) got beat by Bill Bolling and Gary Reese (who Davis was supportive of) got smacked by Chris Craddock, Mr. DeVolites cannot be a happy fellow.

It seems like whenever Davis gets involved in Virginia politics he gets embarassed. Past examples include:
1. Mark Earley beating John Hager in 2001
2. Jo Ann Davis beating Paul Jost in 2000
3. Ken Cuccinelli beating Thompson in 2002 for the Senate seat
4. The NOVA tax referendum failing in 2002
5. In 2001 Edgar Gonzalez losing deadly after Davis pumped alot of money into the race and had a the district drawn with a hispanic majority so he could run someone there
6. Now you can add Connaughton and Reese

For a guy who fancies himself a Kingmaker this is hardly an impressive record. Added that almost all of these failures involve Davis going head to head with the GOP's social conservative base I think this raises a serious question as to whether Davis can get the nomination from the statewide party.

At 3:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Colonel, some very good insight on Tom Davis. Unfortunately I'm sure that John Warner will threaten to never retire until the GOP guarantees Davis the nomination for his Senate seat.

At 4:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The GOP will never agree to "give" Davis the nomination for Warner's Senate seat when there are two factions to the GOP - the conservatives and the establishment.

There will be a conservative that runs against Davis for the nomination. Warner would have to be an idiot (I am refraining from editorializing here) to not realize this.

At 5:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't know Davis backed Jost. You can add Brickner '03 to your list, too.

At 6:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't sell Warner short. He will stop at nothing to make sure a social conservative does not get his seat. He might even recruit an independent to run if one does get nominated. Remember russ Potts was not the first to try this kind of scheme.

At 7:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I told you for weeks that Scott would win big (20-30 pts) in the 30th. Post election analysis indicates minimal cross-over, despite Mike Sharman's whining. Sharman and Lux snookered you regarding Jarvis's popularity. This race was never a toss-up, not from day #1.

Better luck on the very few competitive November House races.

At 10:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not so sure Democratic crossover was the decider in the 54th. IMHO there were two other, more significant factors - backlash against Kenney running a very angry and negative campaign, and backlash against Kenney appearing to support an animal rights group, Virginia Voters for Animal Welfare.

The latter had hunters and dog people - most solid Republicans - in a grassroots drive to get voters for Orrock. Most of these are folks who don't usually vote in primaries - "civilians." They were pushing hard against what they perceived as a VVAW water-carrier.

Kenney claimed he just said VVAW was a "great group of activists" - flip it around and imagine him saying that about NARAL, and the effect it would have on pro-life voters. Animal rights is not a good position for a conservative Republican to take. Hunters, foxhunters, and the dog people are fanatics when they get angry enough.

Support for VVAW w/dog people and hunters = support for NARAL with the pro-life folks.

At 8:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While it was no secret that Davis was backing Connaughton, I am not sure that was the case for Reese beyond allowing him to use his name on an endorsement list. I did not a quote from Davis or a Robo-call or anything that would make one believe that he was doing anything for Reese. I am not even sure Davis gave Reese money.

At 8:56 AM, Anonymous The Colonel said...

I forgot about Brickner, thanks to who ever reminded me of that. As for Reese, maybe I am being to tough on Tommy D. on that one. I will have to check with one of my friends who helped out Reese to see who involved the Sage of Braddock Road was in the campaign.

At 11:24 AM, Anonymous The Whole Turth said...

NLS - I hope your arm is healing after the strain it took to pat yourself on the back!!

Here's the AVERAGE margins of your catregories:

What you called "likely" winners, all won by 35 pct avg - just 200 basis points less that the "safes"

What you called "leaners" won by 16 pct

What you called "toss-ups" were in fact 18 pct gaps - 200 basis points HIGHER than the "leaners."

OK, the final outcome was correct that you called safe, likely, and leans - but the classficiation was abyssmal.

And the fact that you did not predict i.e. called a (toss-ups)on 40 pct of the races (7 of 18) and they were won by an average of 18 point gaps (with only one in single digits), and then called yourself "PERFECT" shows that you are a lot more LIKE LARRY SABABTO than NOT LARRY SABATO, ...

Do you wera a toup?

Yes you were "perfect" as long as you don't count

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