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Dems: Organization helped ensure victory

Thursday, November 8, 2012

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

When asked what went right and wrong in Tuesday’s elections, Naomi Hodge-Muse, a volunteer with President Barack Obama’s local campaign, said, “We did everything right (in the campaign) for president.”

Obama was re-elected Tuesday. He carried Virginia and the city of Martinsville; his Republican opponent Mitt Romney carried Henry and Patrick counties.

Hodge-Muse, of Henry County, said she believes Democrat Tim Kaine won over Republican George Allen in the U.S. Senate race because he benefited from the Obama campaign organization, coattail effects and “Kaine had a very good machine.”

As for congressional races, Hodge-Muse said she believes Democrat John Douglass lost to Republican U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt in the 5th District and that Democrat Anthony Flaccavento lost to U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith in the 9th District because redistricting resulted in less name recognition for Douglass and Flaccavento and because their campaigns had less money than their opponents.

In the president’s race, Hodge-Muse said, locally there was a strong grassroots organization for Obama. “We started in January in my house,” she said. She said volunteers were in the field about every day and making phone calls all day.

“We got an office in May,” she said. She described the Obama headquarters workers as “unbelievable, phenomenal,” and as working tirelessly.

“This was not a fluke. This was well-orchestrated,” she said of the local Obama effort.

An important factor in Martinsville was more than 60 percent voter turnout, she said. In Martinsville, Obama received 3,856 votes (61.35 percent) to Romney’s 2,312 (36.78 percent), according to information on the Virginia State Board of Elections website.

Jeff Adkins, chairman of the Martinsville-Henry County Democratic Committee, agreed that Democrats did a good job of getting voters out nationally, in Virginia and locally.

He noted that when votes were combined in Henry County and Martinsville, Obama lost to Romney by about 2,000 votes. The combined vote was 14,168 for Obama to 16,290 to Romney, according to data on the Virginia State Board of Elections.

Hodge-Muse said she believes other factors in the outcome of the presidential race nationally were that “Obama is closer to how the people actually feel,” and “the tea party pushed Romney too far to the right.” If Romney had run as a centrist, or moderate, he may have won, she said she believes. She added Romney ran for Massachusetts governor as a moderate and won and got universal health care passed.

In the congressional races, she said, “We did not come out in force for Douglass and Flaccavento.”

Adkins said Douglass and Flaccavento ran strong, hard races, but “we live in a red, conservative area” and congressional lines “are drawn to protect Republicans forever.”

As a result of Griffith winning in the 9th and Hurt winning in the 5th, “we’ve got the same blockers in Congress as before,” Hodge-Muse said. She said she feels Griffith and Hurt spent their first terms in Washington trying to stop Obama’s initiatives. They need to work with the president to “bring us out of this quagmire” and to recovery, she said.

Adkins said he thinks lessons from the elections Tuesday include: embrace diversity and be tolerant (the latter referring to passage of some state same-sex marriage and legalization of marijuana initiatives). Also, the election showed the need for bipartisanship to end congressional stalemates and address the country’s fiscal problems, he said, adding that must involve revenue increases and spending cuts.

“The public wants a deal made. If you don’t want a deal made, you’re an ideologue. You’ve got to do what’s best for the country” is Adkins’ advice for federal legislators.

“The election is over. I applaud all the winners,” said Adkins, of Martinsville. It’s time to move on and pass legislation to help the American people and get the country moving, he said. He added he is more confident than he has been in quite some time that deals will be reached.

“I think the public is tired of partisan politics,” he said.

As for the Democrats’ wins, he said he thinks a big factor was large turnouts of single women, Hispanics and African Americans. Also, he believes, the Obama campaign had a good ground operation.

Nationally, Adkins said, the Democrats did a good job of targeting messages to different states or regions, such as focusing on the auto bailout in Ohio and women’s issues in Virginia.

Obama was a strong candidate, and it’s hard to unseat an incumbent, Adkins said.

“Kaine was a strong candidate with wide appeal and was a popular governor. With candidates like that, it inspires a lot of people,” Adkins said.

He called Obama’s win an electoral “landslide.”


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