Democrats Appear to Have Won the Last Election of 2013

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 18 2013 11:59 AM

Democrats Appear to Have Won the Last Election of 2013

185359439
The very probable next attorney general of Virginia, Mark Herring.

Photo by Greg Kahn/Getty Images

The second-to-last election result of this year comes from Alabama, where Republican Bradley Byrne easily took the coastal seat long held by the retired Jo Bonner. The press followed this race during the primary, when a spectacularly unprepared social conservative waved the Gadsden flag and led in some polls. Byrne won that primary by 6 points; he won the general election by a 2–1 margin against a Democrat who spent $6,000. Then he promised that "change" would come to Washington, because that's what every winning candidate says.

The last election, though—that's the one that should have ended six weeks ago. The race for attorney general of Virginia closed late, as Republicans realized that Ken Cuccinelli was blowing the governor's race and Democrats realized that they just needed to say the C-word in order to drag down Republican candidate Mark Obenshain. On election night, the GOP held on to a small lead—then a smaller lead, then a smaller lead, then no lead at all as Democrat Mark Herring ran ahead by 165 votes. Obenshain asked for a recount, which was fair enough in a race that close despite 2 million total votes cast.

Advertisement

The recount is not going his way. With 1,441 of 2,558 precincts recounted, Herring has more than trebled his lead, to 686 votes. Republicans might have taken solace in how the first counted precincts all came from Herring's Northern Virginia base. But the overall trend benefits Herring. A typical Republican stronghold, Virginia Beach found an equal amount of new Herring and Obenshain votes. York County, smaller but stronger for Obenshain, gave a net of 15 votes to Herring. Meanwhile, in Fairfax County alone, Herring scored 366 new votes. When you look at what's out, you see promising caches of Obenshain votes in places like Rockingham, but plenty of urban Herring votes still waiting to be counted.

How does this end? If Herring wins by, say, 324 votes, he'll have a larger lead than Bob McDonnell in his 2005 race for AG against poor Creigh Deeds. Obenshain's got the right to challenge the election in the state assembly. Republicans run the state assembly. But he'd be in the position of asking the state to overturn the election results in a race not quite as close as the one the party rightfully won eight years earlier.

Obenshain's legal team, asked about a possible challenge, has ruled nothing out. It needs to keep up speculation that something went fishy in Fairfax County. Right now, though, it looks like Democrats will end the year with their first sweep of all Virginia statewide offices since 1989.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Why Time Is on Our Side in the Fight Against Ebola

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Catacombs Where You Can Stroll Down Hallways Lined With Corpses

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

The U.S. Has a New Problem in Syria: The Moderate Rebels Feel Like We’ve Betrayed Them

We Need to Talk: A Terrible Name for a Good Sports Show by and About Women

Trending News Channel
Oct. 1 2014 1:25 PM Japanese Cheerleader Robots Balance and Roll Around on Balls
  News & Politics
Crime
Oct. 1 2014 4:15 PM The Trials of White Boy Rick A Detroit crime legend, the FBI, and the ugliness of the war on drugs.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 1 2014 4:55 PM Blood Before Bud? Must a gentleman’s brother always be the best man at his wedding?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 3:02 PM The Best Show of the Summer Is Getting a Second Season
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 4:46 PM Ebola Is No Measles. That’s a Good Thing. Comparing this virus to scourges of the past gives us hope that we can slow it down.
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?