Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why Mark Warner’s race turned into a nail-biter (Washington Post)

2014 warner map

Stephen Hanna of the University of Mary Washington created a map as part of a research project by Stephen Farnsworth, Stephen Hanna and Benjamin Hermerding. It contrasts the shift in the vote for Mark Warner between 2001, when he became governor, with his vote in 2014. The swollen blue areas were more likely to vote for Warner over the span of 13 years — but also overlap with the areas where turnout dipped the most…..

As Farnsworth, Hanna, and Hemmerding put it: “The sea of rural blue that Warner enjoyed in 2001 has been replaced by deep red Republican sentiments. Rural voters who once backed him are now far less likely to split their tickets.”

Link to article

Was Sen. Warner Victim Of His Own Success? (Talking Points Memo)

Virginia Flag“The Democrats clearly needed to work harder in Virginia than they did. The natural advantages that Democrats have in urban areas are only advantages if they get the kind of turnout that can compensate the Republican advantages in more rural parts of the state,” University of Mary Washington political science professor Stephen Farnsworth told TPM. “You’re looking at an underperformance in Northern Virginia in particular by the Warner people, compared to even the governor’s race last year.”

Farnsworth pointed to the margins of Democratic strongholds in the state like Fairfax and Loudon counties where, he said, “you see that that performance didn’t measure up.”

“This is always a problem, by the way, for Democrats in Northern Virginia. Because they live in a Democratic area they often forget how conservative the rest of Virginia is and it takes a great deal of coaxing to convince people to participate in midterm elections and that’s doubly true in Norther Virginia,” Farnsworth added.

Link to report

Democrats could learn from 1968 campaign (Column, Free-Lance Star)


As Democrats survey the unappealing political scene of 2014, with its dispirited incumbents, energized Republican opposition and an unpopular incumbent president, they need to look back at the late innings resurgence of the Hubert Humphrey 1968 presidential campaign.

That election, waged under the some of the most unfavorable circumstances for Democrats in the last 50 years, offers three lessons: The party wins when it focuses on working-class voters; half-hearted attempts to split the difference with the GOP are doomed to fail; and this vigorous populist appeal will fall short if, like in 1968, the party waits until the last minute to push the election toward the party’s most favorable terrain in the most effective terms.

Link to column

Bob McDonnell’s Corruption Trial in Virginia Symbolizes Growing Political Partisanship (New York Times)

NY Times
Stephen Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington, said the divisiveness has ratcheted up as Virginia, which had not voted for a Democratic president in nearly half a century before choosing Barack Obama in 2008, has become more of an evenly split presidential battleground.

“The more closely divided a political environment, the nastier the disputes are,” he said. “Because the state is basically 50-50, all parties are engaged in the kind of trench warfare that really is a very, very distinct departure from the dynamic that previously marked state government here.”

Link to article

House press offices expand as other staffs shrink (USA Today)

usa today
Stephen Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington who specializes in political communication, said the numbers are not a surprise. The White House always gets more media attention for its views than Congress does, he said, which is a particular problem for Republicans who control only the House and not the Senate.

“It is surprising to me that Congress hasn’t been more aggressive earlier in trying to reduce the disparity between the attention that the White House and Congress gets,” Farnsworth said.

“Since the legislative branch is mired in single-digit approval ratings, the members figure they need to invest more in getting their message out.”

Link to article