Roundup: Va. Rural Vote Remains Flat

Virginia governor elect owes victory to urban voters • 51st state initiative bogs down in Colorado • “War on Coal” analysis oversimplifies issue, Post reporter says • Senator optimistic about farm bill negotiation.

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McAuliffe Wins in Urban Areas, Limits Suburban Losses. Virginia’s Democratic Governor Elect Terry McAuliffe made modest gains among the state’s rural and suburban voters in his victory over Republican Ken Cuccinelli, but the big change in voter behavior from 2009 to 2013 was among urban voters, according to figures compiled by the Washington Post.

McAuliffe’s narrow margin of victory of about 55,000 votes came from running up big wins in urban areas and limiting the size of his losses among suburban and small-city voters.

McAuliffe outgunned Republican Ken Cuccinelli II by nearly 231,000 votes (63% to 37% of the two-party vote) in large urban areas outside Washington D.C. and in the Richmond area. The 2009 urban vote was a virtual tie between Republican victor Bob McDonnell and Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds.

McAuliffe lost among suburban and small-city voters, but the margin was close enough that he maintained his statewide lead. Among suburban and small-city voters, McAuliffe lost by 104,000 votes.  In the 2009 race, the Democrat candidate lost among these voters by 249,000 votes. Had McAuliffe lost by a similar margin in 2013, Cuccinelli would have won the governor’s seat.

Rural Virginia voters shifted only slightly to the Democratic candidate as compared to 2009 levels. Among rural voters, as defined by the Post, McAuliffe lost by about 72,000 votes, 38% to 62%. The Democratic candidate for Virginia governor in 2009 lost among rural voters by 100,000 votes, or 34% to 66% of the two-party vote.

Colorado Counties Split on Secession Straw Poll. Northern Colorado counties split in a straw poll referendum on whether to pursue formation of a 51st state. Six counties voted in favor of the proposal, and five voted against. In Weld County, where the proposal failed, county commissioner Sean Conway said there were still benefits from the campaign, according to the Denver Post.

“Weld County voters said this is an option we shouldn’t pursue and we won’t pursue it,” Conway said Tuesday. “But we will continue to look at the problems of the urban and rural divide in this state.”

Caitlin Dewey of the Washington Post has a list of 11 other areas that have considered secession efforts in the last few years.

The last time a state willingly handed over territory for a new state was in 1820, when Massachusetts ceded the territory that became Maine.  West Virginia’s secession from Virginia during the Civil War was a unilateral decision.

Regulations a Small Part of Coal’s Decline. The decline of the coal industry in Central Appalachia is the result of mining mechanization, depleted reserves, competition from other coalfields and cheaper alternatives like natural gas, writes the Washington Post’s Brad Blumer in their “Wonkblog.” While regulation is a factor, it’s far from the whole story, Plumer writes.

Plumer’s post includes a roundup of several charts, including the one here, which charts mining employment in Kentucky and West Virginia. The chart shows steady decline from 1983 through the last year of the Clinton administration.

Farm Bill. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow said that she expects negotiations over the farm bill to resume this week between the House and Senate. She said she hopes to have a compromise in place by Thanksgiving, according to Politico.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack has an op/ed circulating that describes the farm bill’s role in job creation, research, trade promotion, deficit reduction and nutrition. 

“The future of rural America is tied to how well the rest of America understands and supports it, U.S. Vilsack said Tuesday,” according to the Omaha World-Herald. Vilsack addressed the Rural Futures Conference in Lincoln, Nebraska, Tuesday.

 

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