Virginia House of Delegates 2005 Elections

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Recap of 37th District Primary

We're going to spend the next few days updating the right hand side of the site, and getting ready to update ratings. Today and tomorrow, we'll give you some recaps of the primaries.

The story of the 37th was incumbent Chap Petersen. Chap clearly made a decision to blitz his district for turnout for the Lt. Governors primary. While turnout is great, every vote counts (insert third cliche here) history has proven that you won't win a statewide primary by making a heavy push in 1% of the state. Chap got great turnout, won all the precincts here and finished a distant third.

But Chap's GOTV made a huge difference in the primaries for his seat.

As we discussed before, John Mason and Chap shared a lot of voters in very independent Fairfax City. That forced many of them to have to pick primaries when they would have liked to vote for both.

Mason succeeded in keeping enough people in the Republican primary to beat back Jim Kaplan for the nomination. For the record, the 37th was the only district where someone was posting incorrect turnout numbers here on election day. We said we could not longer project a winner when afternoon turnout for the R's at one precinct was only 20 people. All the way until then, we had said this was a likely or leaning Mason victory. The truth was Mason was very successful in keeping a significant vote in the Republican primary, and won big in Fairfax City. Fairfax County was a little more spotty for Mason with some strong precincts and some weak ones. In the end, Mason was indeed the winner.

John Mason 1,683 (60.3%) 55% in County, 69% in City
Jim Kaplan 1,106 (39.7%)

Chap also had a big impact on the Democratic primary. Clearly Chap's county voters were much more inclined to David Bulova then his opponent Janet Oleszek. Oleszek was not able to run a complete campaign in the County, some precincts she stayed very close, others were a blowout. We had rated this likely Bulova, then leans Bulova and finally a tossup. Oleszek kept the race close and showed why we had closed the rating, but in the end Bulova won a solid victory.

Rather then blow a post election kiss, Raising Kaine took a little potshot at us for calling this race a "tossup". Given the clear momentum from Oleszek at the end here, the large turnout that was the most unpredictable in the state and the final margin we feel pretty good about this call. In fact, if we had it to do over again, we'd still call it a tossup! The final results were

David Bulova 1,969 (56.6%) 59% in County, 52% in City
Janet Oleszek 1,511 (43.4%)

Here's an interesting email we got on the 37th this morning.

NLS, when you talk about the final results of the 37th I would like to bring something to your attention. Many Fairfax City Republicans like Chap and voted for him in the Democratic primary. While neither Democratic candidate was a dud (like Leslie Byrne) it was clear that Janet was going to play stronger in the City in November. My husband for one crossed over and voted for Bulova to give Mason a better shot in November. Again, nothing bad about David Bulova, but we just like our chances better with him on the ballot.

Very interesting. We notice much stronger results for Bulova in and around Mason's neighborhood.

This race is a tossup and will probably be the #1 race to watch in Virginia this year for Delegate. We are giving John Mason the leader position on the right, but, as a famous announcer once said:

Let's Get Ready to Ruuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmbbbbbbbblllllllllllleeeeeeeee!!!

UPDATE: Raising Kaine interviews Bulova after his primary win. This is much better than the first interview Bulova did with them. We can see some improvement in him as a candidate.

As far as "pantsgate" goes, Bulova mentions that those were in fact black jeans, and only cost $30. Black Jeans? They sell those anymore? Is Bulova getting his clothes at gothic underground? Or a Nine Inch Nails Concert?

Tip to Bulova: When doing your November mail go with blue jeans. Don't whitewash them or peg them. Don't dress up as a crossing guard. Don't pretend to be a kid.

Bulova has one trump card up his sleeve if he chooses to use it. Has anyone else noticed how much Mason looks like the skeleton in "Tales from the Crypt"?

SECOND UPDATE: An email just pointed out how much David Bulova looks like Ron Howard (aka Opie). Should we call this election "Crypt Skeleton v. Opie"?


At 7:21 PM, Anonymous Wahoo Dan said...

Doesn't Mason have a distinct advantage...being the moderate former mayor with the name ID? He didn't even canvass much for the primary...

At 7:30 PM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

Yes and No. Mason has two problems that make this a tossup.

a) David's mother is very popular in the southern end of this district. Those are also the most GOP precincts.

b) If Tim Kaine is even CLOSE for Governor he will win this district. Even though the old numbers may not show it, Kilgore is very weak for Republicans here, a Kilgore win in the 37th means over 10% win statewide.

At 8:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NLS - I like your site and you offer great commentary. But don't you think it's time you revealed WHO you are. Isn't it only fair that we find out who is supplying all of this analyis?

Who's with me?

At 8:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah...many have guessed that NLS is 2 journalists. One from Richmond (lives in Chesterfield) and one from NOVA. I like the composite theory...but some of the terms he/she is using sound too much like someone who has been involved in campaigns. He's not involved this year, though.

So...the problem with revealing his/her name is that campaigns are for one party or the other. So he's either a Democrat or a Republican. And revealing his party would turn off half of the people on here.

At 11:17 PM, Anonymous Freddie said...

In a blog like this, anonymity helps make for less partisan comentary. NLS can criticize his own side without getting grief. I don't want to know who NLS is.

At 5:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's two people, you can hear the voice difference in the comments then in the main posts.

At 9:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh come on... NLS's prognostication ability (particularly as the early numbers came in Tuesday) was very good, but his knowledge of fashion lacks. Black jeans are still very much in existance... even in fashion. Perhaps he or she should focus on the polls and not on the clothes :)

At 9:24 AM, Anonymous Not Mark Rozell said...

I think Mason has to be the odds-on favorite for the general. Even though Sharon Bulova is popular in her district, she is largely unproven - she rarely has an opponent. David Bulova has won a county-wide race, but it was for a job that few people care about. With Chap out of the picture it's difficult to see Bulova getting out the vote over Mason.

NLS, enough already about Bulova's clothing. I'm not sure why this matters so much to you. Just about every politician in Virginia looks ill-at-ease out of a business suit. It doesn't matter one bit and I can't figure out why you can't let it go. Most people who vote in elections are fuddy-duddies like me and likewise have little sense of style. We don't care if he's in black jeans, slacks, or corduroys. As long as he doesn't show up somewhere in a skirt.

At 9:57 AM, Anonymous Freddie said...

If he shows up somewhere in a skirt, that would help him with some voters.

At 10:25 AM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

Thank the Republican majority's last redistricting for the stories on Bulova's clothing. 3/4 of the seats are already called and it is June!!! I have to have some offbeat material here or it's not gonna make it to November... :)

At 10:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NMR: Are you friends with Tom Davis?

I actually agree with you this point, Mason wins. But it's early. These campaigns (both) have learned a lot from the primary.

At 10:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

clarification on the last point:

I only say that because you were rooting hard for the moderate GOP people. But you tend towards Republicans in tossup races. So I feel like you're somewhere in the moderate republican zone.

At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Not Mark Rozell said...

I'm just realistic, that's all. John Mason has many more reasons to win than David Bulova.

Remember, I called the primary for Kaplan.

At 11:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you? Wow, that was a dumb call!

Just kidding...

At 12:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your prognostications leave much to be desired. The following is not a slam. I'll try to make a point at the end.

54th you rated "Toss-up" - which Orrock won by 11 points. Which is two points more than Harry Parrish garnered in the 50th and you called it for Parrish a long time ago.

67th you rated "Toss-up" - Reese won 66% of the vote.

30th you rated "Toss-up - Scott received 64% of the vote.

33rd you rated "Leans May (kind of) and he won by 20 points.

37th you rated "Toss-up" and the winner beat the loser by 13 points.

82nd - "Lean Purkey" - and he won by 29 points.

To be fair you picked some races correctly, mostly "safe" seats, and I do not know your predictions for other seats.

This is a good site that allows people to share information and in that sense, very useful.

However the election analysis by the "blogger" is sketchy at best.

Too many "Toss-ups." Toss-up should not be used in place of "I don't know." As we all know there are rarely and toss-ups anymore.

The ratings you give for individual races (toss-up, lean, likely, safe) change too often. Each race has certain fundamentals (candidates and their qualities, district demographics, money) that rarely change. One newspaper article, endorsement, bad mail piece rarely changes the fundamentals.

I would suggest trying to maintain your perspective and not get lost in the normal give and take of a campaign and I will keep checking in once in a while to get some fun and interesting information. Thanks.

At 12:33 PM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

I disagree, and am also working on a piece on this topic. Our predictions were nearly flawless.

At 12:35 PM, Blogger Virginia Centrist said...

"The ratings you give for individual races (toss-up, lean, likely, safe) change too often. Each race has certain fundamentals (candidates and their qualities, district demographics, money) that rarely change. One newspaper article, endorsement, bad mail piece rarely changes the fundamentals."

While I agree with what you're saying...there's a reason that fundamentals decide elections (instead of mail pieces/endorsements/other smaller events).

And the reason is the following: The media doesn't cover these races with more than one or two cookie cutter stories about the candidates. So fundamentals/incumbent advantage/money usually rue the day.

The point of this site, in my mind, is to spark debate/interest around these races.

I agree that sometimes it goes overboard with the "big mo" predictions. And my other quibble would be that the coverage is almost completely horserace coverage. No analyis of the candidates' platforms and how they might affect the race (again - they probably won't have much of an effect. But that's because we don't focus on them! It's a vicious cycle).

The media will increasingly look to special "niche" sites like this to direct them to stories in various areas. So this is an important site.

At 12:43 PM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

We have discussed issues when they were suprising or could have an effect. (See David Bulova endorsing gay marriage story a couple of months ago).

But I am not going to sit here and report that the Democrat is Pro-Choice, the Republican is Pro-Life, the Democrat has labor support, conservative Christians like this Republican etc. I will report on things that might SURPRISE you, not the expected.

At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NLS, I agree, but I have noticed you do not take any critique well. A little temper, perhaps?

At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah NLS like when you cursed out the commenter a few weeks ago. :)

At 1:33 PM, Blogger Virginia Centrist said...

ha ha. I missed that.

At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Bulova didn't really endorse gay marriage... That is just a fabrication of him saying that he believes in gay equality.

At 1:40 PM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

Read the comments in that post again anonymous- you are wrong. I understand the difference- look at the bill Bulova was refering to. It wasn't HB751.

At 1:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

one thing's for sure. michael golden will crush the homosexuals with his bare feet. like bruce lee.

At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Not Mark Rozell said...

NLS has done a fairly good job given that none of us, even an old career hack like me, ever bats 1000 (see the crow I've had to eat on my own predictions in the 37th and the 67th).

One pretty good call NLS made was the 45th. He caught a lot of hell for that, but he hung in there and he was right.

All this notwithstanding, I would like to see more daring for the general election. Fewer toss-up ratings next time. Less about David Bulova's pants and John Mason's resemblance to Skeletor.

At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the 37th, was Kaplan's campaign manager that young blonde that I saw out supporting him on Primary Day? And where (which campaign) did she come from? How about Olezsek? Who managed her race?

At 3:01 PM, Anonymous TLM said...

Ahhh, back to the gay marriage crap again. There is a difference between marriage and legal rights for gay folks. Marriage, like gays in the military, is NOT the burning issue you all think it is for gays. Many of us would have preferred it never came up. We don't care about the word or the ceremony (or at least those of us who are really in long-term partnerships) Civil Unions like in Vermont was/is the way to go. As a first step, separate but equal is really a victory.

The only reason we are pissed at Virginia GOP and some Dems is the over the top attempt to change the state constitution that goes beyond just marriage. Keep the damn name for all you straight folks who divorce half of the time anyway. Just leave us and our legal contracts alone. Thank goodness Bulova has enough acorns to speak to the core issue. Now that Janet lost, I'll have to help him with the message a little. Bet Mason is a secret believer too...

PS: Seems to be Mason's race to lose...Dave is nice guy but has the passion of pre-2000 Al Gore.

At 3:34 PM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

Terry L M-

Good points. It isn't an issue if Mason doesn't make it one. Although, Mason did come out for the amendment in the primary. I am guessing he will do a piece that shows how he is just like Chap on this issue

At 3:55 PM, Anonymous Annie in NOVA said...

I think you guys are too quick to call it for Mason. There's a lot of the district outside of the city and these folks don't know Mason well. In the past two elections the district was won by ringing doorbells -- can Mason ring as many as the thirtysomething Bulova?

At 3:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The key is Chap was from the city. Traditionally it's thought that a Dem can only win this district if their from the city. Right NLS? But I think that the city may be trending more D than 4 or 6 years ago...

At 4:15 PM, Blogger Bob Griendling said...

Folks, I live in the 37th. It's Bulova's to lose.

At 4:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what I hear I'd be willing to bet that NLS knows the district much better than you. I think he'd agree that Fairfax City trending Democratic is the only way a Dem from the county can win.

At 4:44 PM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

3:57 anon- that is correct, as far as the "conventional wisdom". Bob is also correct that the district is slightly trending D.

However, I can not remember EVER seeing a Delegate seek statewide office and have over 40% of the primary voters choose the other party's ballot. There is very much a GOP presence still there. Also, this district is more Democratic with higher turnout, so state elections are a little more GOP then federal elections. I really feel this is a tossup. It hasn't moved as much as Bob indicates federally because he didnt include Nader's vote. It really only moved about 1 point more Dem if you include the Nader vote. Some areas of the state moved 10 points or more, so that is not a major shift.

As far as Warner vs. Gilmore numbers, Warner ran better. Duh. His numbers are better everywhere over Beyer in 1997.

Then the other question is does Chap leave a sour taste for leaving the district after only two terms after he promised to build senority?

This one will be great to watch. Both sides think they should be favored. I say TOSSUP!

At 5:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course it's a "Toss-up." Every race here that appears to be close is called a "Toss-up.

Fairfax City 2004 - Kerry 51% - Bush 48%. Sorry I don't have the rest of the district but I bet Kerry did better in FX co. than the City.

Bulova will out-work Mason big and has a head start in the county because of his mother, and every local elected offical in the County is a Dem.

The GOP is losing traction in NOVA faster than the DEMs in rural VA.

Without seeing any polling numbers yet this race leans...Bulova.

At 5:07 PM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

anonymous- that is not true!!!!! I have a total of 3 tossups in the November election out of 100. Go crawl back in your hole.

At 5:23 PM, Blogger Bob Griendling said...

I’m not sure how what Janet polled means squat for November. This wasn’t a contentious race. They said about the same thing; it wasn’t negative at all. The only negative Dems might say about Janet is her lack of speaking polish and a little hesitant to take a stand. (But I suspect David is about the same in that regard.) It’s not like David is bloodied from the primary.

NLS is right about turnout and Chap’s lingering taste.

But if Warner’s better numbers were because he ran a better race, then it isn’t all about fundamentals, huh.

At 5:37 PM, Anonymous TLM said...

So all it takes is walking the district....well, it is the 70+ year olds who show up to vote in November. An army of young kids running up and down the streets does not ensure turnout. Just ask Dean. As always this will turn on GOTV and whatever hot button gets pushed at the state level...can you say property taxes? And who is most bothered by that? Old homeowners...Would be nice to see this be a clean, positive campaign in the 37th. But doubt the hardcore on both sides will allow that to happen. Either way, at least Kaplan is out.

At 5:42 PM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

Bob, I never said it was.

At 6:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's put a couple of things to rest.

I knocked doors with Mason during the primary. John is twice my age. It is no exaggeration when I tell you that I could not keep up with him. I was dead tired and soaked with sweat after 3 hours and he looked fresh in spite of the 90+ degree weather. It was scary.

John looks at least 15 years younger than he is and is in top shape. He knocked the whole way through and he will continue to do so. If Bulova supporters think David's age somehow will give him more stamina to hit more doors, they may want to think again. There is something in Mason's genetics that makes him the Roger Clemmons of door-knocking.

And for those who say he is not known in the County...look at the seat, the match-up and the history. This is going to be the #1 House race in Virginia this fall. Mason will have all the money he needs to be known in the County and Bulova will have all the money he needs to be known in the City. Name ID and familiarity will not be a big issue for either candidate come Election Day. Let's face it...if you live in the 37th, you can expect that you will drown in mail from these two candidates and their signs will be worse than weeds.

Mason is a known commodity...has expertise that is directly relevant to the district's needs...can raise money by the fistful...and knows the issues cold.

Is this a swing seat? Yes, of course it is. Is Mason completely capable of winning this convincingly? Absolutely. He is in good physical smart as a whip...can raise money...and is a solid ideological fit for the seat. He has the clear early edge.

At 9:32 PM, Anonymous fairfax liberal gal said...

Oh my god? He sounds like he's in great shape for an older gentleman. Is he still fertile? I love riding older Republicans until they're screaming like a donkey.

At 10:39 PM, Anonymous Larry Sabato's Hairpiece said...

Ride the whirlwind with the best piece of an old crusty man you will ever have...this piece.

At 11:35 AM, Anonymous Annie in NOVA said...

Young wippersnapers walking the district won't cut it. It will take a buncha shoe leather by *the candidates themselves* to make an impact. Really now besides endorsements by beloved incombents, the only way to reach the votes is face to face -- the flyers, even for guys I'd vote for go directly into the garbage can with the junk mail.

The old folks may be the most faithful about showing up at the polls but there's fewer and fewer of them left. Alot of the houses were built in the 1960s and most of the original owners are cashing out in the housing boom to move to retirement condos or sadly not getting to the condo before checking out.

I mean Gwen Cody is in her late 80s now. Sure she's quite spry for her age but time is not on her side and the newcomers don't know her history. Pretty soon Gwen won't be doing her usual GOTV in Camelot.

The X-factor IMO will be the swing voters who might have voted for both Bush *and* Chap. Disenchantment with the GOP is high in NOVA -- will this translate into weak GOP leaning independents shifting into the "lean Democrat" column?

At 5:24 PM, Anonymous Bruce said...

Don't assume "old folk" are Mason backers.

Kaplan actually beat Mason in Mantua precinct - which has the big Rt 50 retirement community in it, the biggest senior center in the 37th.

John beat Kaplan 5-1 in some City precincts. If he can do that again, Bulova will need to win his part of the county - including the district's most GOP precinct (Sideburn) - by a similar margin or win the other, non-Bulova familiar part of the county by wide margins. This is going to be tough to do.

I think "Lean Mason" is fair. But I thought Kaplan was going to upset him - so what do I know. :)


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