I live in Fairfax County, Virginia. I am a member of the Fairfax County Republican Committee and am assisting my precinct captain (whilst kicking and screaming) to win our county-wide elections this fall. After attending several county meetings and exchanging emails with my PC, I decided to get involved. While my (somewhat) eager attempts to join the big boy club were ignored, a letter to editor of a local e-newspaper caught the attention of members of the county executive committee and the campaign manager of the candidate the LTE was written in support of. After exchanging several other emails with my district chairwoman, I was offered the position of Vice-District Chair. Mind you, I’m just a guy who wrote a LTE (which, BTW, was edited by the campaign manager before publishing). I offered my support to my precinct first and that is my focus, for now.
My precinct lies at the very western edge of the county. We have one of the largest rolls of registered voters (4800) in the county (although we have no apartment complexes and very few townhome communities). While waiting for my PC to provide a copy of the voter rolls of the precinct (and I’m working on my district chairwoman to give up the entire district’s), I went to the Commonwealth’s Board of Elections page in order gauge the effectiveness of my PC.
Looking at only the numbers – in terms of voter turnout – over the last the past few election cycles, I began to notice a pattern. As expected, off-year election turnout is rather low. But when comparing good years like 2009 to the worst of years, like 2006, my numbers don’t change much. For instance, in 2006 – a terrible year for Republicans in general and George Allen specifically – 910 voters pulled the lever for Senator Allen (1235 for Webb). In the next off-year election cycle, 2009, only 924 voters turned out for Bob McDonnell (now Governor) (858 for Deeds). One would think that the general elections would prove to turn out many, many more Republicans, yet in 2004 John Kerry won the precinct with 1482 votes to G.W.B’s 1462 (yeah, it was that close) and 2008 was slightly worse with only 1255 votes for McCain to Obama’s 1684 (perhaps ~200 registered Republicans voted for Obama? Reverse Operation Chaos?).
I’m also a member of my home owner association’s “Dad’s Club.” One of the members stopped my house last Saturday to see if I would be interested in organizing an event with him. As we talked, I got the sense that he was right-of-center and tried to gauge his interest in helping out with precinct operations. He was excited to become involved and seemed eager for victory in 2012. While I matched his enthuisam in defeating President Obama and the democrat nominee for outgoing Sen Webb, I mentioned that this years elections were even more important, as all seats from Soil and Water Conservation to State Senate were up for grabs. He. Had. No. Idea. No idea that 2011 was an election year (and to be fair, there are no campaign signs up in the district, as campaign laws ban any signs outside 75 days or so on an election. Candidates in primary races have signs displayed all over the rest of the county though!). I have to estimate that less than 50% of all registered Republicans in my precinct are in the same boat as his poor guy. So, having this understanding and knowing the numbers from past election cycles, what is a guy to do?
I think it is possible to increase voter turnout in November of this year. Assuming that I get some help from like-minded neighbors, I think it would be rather easy to get a general election turnout for an off-off year election. I think a reasonable goal, though, would be 1100 Republican votes.
Oh, and if I put all of this effort into this, I would very much like to challenge my PC at the very earliest possible time. Are there any Virginians here who may know when that time would come next?