Bill Bolling: What lessons we can learn from 2012 election
I wanted to share with you my thoughts on how the 2012 elections have affected the 2013 campaign for Governor of Virginia. There are many lessons to be learned from the 2012 campaign, and we have a lot of work to do to ensure that we win the Governor’s race in 2013.
I know we are all disappointed with the results of the recent elections. Mitt Romney would have made a great President for our country, and George Allen would have done an outstanding job representing Virginia in the United States Senate. Our candidates fought hard – they left nothing on the field – and I thank them for their willingness to engage in this difficult process.
I also want to thank the thousands of grassroots volunteers who worked hard for our candidates in this campaign. You made phone calls, knocked on doors, attended rallies and worked the polls. You did so much to support our shared conservative values, and I enjoyed standing with you in this historic effort.
While the results of the recent elections are disappointing, they are also instructive, and as we look to the future we must learn the lessons these campaigns provide.
We lost the recent elections by more than 200,000 votes in Northern Virginia, and we did not do as well as we needed to do in other regions of our state to offset these loses. We clearly have to do a better job communicating our conservative values to voters and convince them that Republicans have the right vision for the future of our country and our state.
The exit polls on the national campaign are illustrative of the challenge we face. In the recent elections we only received 46% of the independent vote, 43% of the female vote and 30% of the vote from unmarried females. Likewise, we only received 27% of the Hispanic vote and 25% of the Asian vote, which happen to be two of the fastest growing demographic groups in Virginia. And we only received 37% of the vote from younger voters, which was actually better than the 30% we received in 2008.
These facts present our party with an important reality: to win statewide political campaigns in Virginia we must do a better job reaching out to the changing face of Virginia, and to the more moderate and independent voters whose support we must have in these campaigns. We must show these voters how our conservative values are right for Virginia and for America, and we must relate these principles to the issues these voters care most about.
If you don’t think this is true, consider another fact. Since 2001 there have been 10 top of the ticket (President, U.S. Senate and Governor) statewide political campaigns in Virginia. Unfortunately, the Democrats have won 7 of these campaigns, while we have won only 3. And of the 3 campaigns we won, two were not seriously contested (John Warner’s re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2002 and George W. Bush’s re-election as President in 2004.).
We often talk about whether Virginia is a red state or a blue state. We generally conclude that Virginia is a purple state, but in these top of the ticket statewide campaigns it is clear that the Democrats have done a better job reaching independent voters than we have done. The only seriously contested top of the ticket statewide campaign Republicans have won in the past decade was Bob McDonnell’s campaign for Governor in 2009.
I know a little bit about the 2009 campaign. I was Bob McDonnell’s running mate in 2009. We won in 2009 because we were able to mobilize the base of our Republican Party by standing strong for our conservative values, while also effectively relating these values to the issues Virginians, and particularly independent voters, care most about. Without their support we would not have been successful.
What lessons can we draw from these realities? The lessons are clear. If we want to win top of the ticket statewide political campaigns in Virginia we must nominate electable candidates – candidates who share our conservative values and candidates who can reach out to the moderate and independent voters who ultimately decide who win political campaigns in our state. As we approach the 2013 campaigns, I hope we will keep these lessons in mind.
I am running for Governor because I believe I am the most qualified candidate to lead our state into the future, and the logical choice to build on the progress Governor McDonnell and I have made over the past three years.
I served four years as a member and Chairman of the Board of Supervisors in Hanover County, 10 years in the Virginia State Senate and the past seven years as Lieutenant Governor. For the past three years I have served as a member of the Governor’s Cabinet and as Virginia’s Chief Jobs Creation Officer. I have the experience that is necessary to lead our state and I am ready to do so with your help.
I also have a record of working with Republicans and Democrats to get things done in state government. No one has a stronger conservative record than I have, but I have demonstrated the ability to take our conservative principles and philosophies and translate them into meaningful policies that have helped make Virginia a better place. This is the kind of results oriented conservative leadership we need to build a better Virginia.
And I am running for Governor because a firmly believe that I am the only Republican candidate who can actually defeat the Democrats and win next November. Polling has shown that I can defeat Terry McAuliffe, the likely Democrat nominee, while McAuliffe will defeat Ken Cuccinelli. Bottom line – if Republicans want to win top of the ticket statewide campaigns in Virginia it all starts with nominating electable candidates.
The key to winning in Virginia is to reach out to moderate and independent voters and make them a part of our team. These voters look at a candidate’s qualification, at their record of results, and they demand that the candidates they vote for support a results oriented approach to governing our state. I have a record of doing this.
What these voters will not support are candidates who are viewed as being too extreme for Virginia. Candidates who are solely ideological. Candidates who thrive on conflict and confrontation. Candidates who are drawn to controversial and divisive issues. Candidates who are polarizing in their approach to politics and policy. If we nominate these kinds of candidates we will lose in November of 2013 and turn the Governor’s office over to the Democrats. We cannot let that happen.
While there are a lot of similarities between Mr. Cuccinelli and me – for example, we are both conservative candidates who will govern our state in a conservative way – there are big differences between us when it comes to our qualification to serve as Governor of Virginia, our record of getting things done in state government and our leadership style and demeanor.
Because of my record of standing strong for conservative values I will energize and mobilize the base of our party, which is critical; at the same time, I will reach out to the more moderate and independent voters whose support we need to win.
As you decide which candidate you will support in this campaign I hope you will keep your focus on the issue that matters most – which of these two conservative candidates will give our party the best chance of winning in November. I have the experience to lead Virginia, a record of proven conservative results and the ability to win!
As this campaign unfolds, I would be honored to have your support. If you would like to become a part of The Bolling Team, you can do so by visiting my website and letting me know of your support. I’d be honored to have you serve as a Delegate for my campaign to the Republican State Convention.
Over the past three years, Governor McDonnell and I have made a lot of progress getting Virginia back on the right track, but we have a lot of work left to do. With your help, I am prepared to lead the effort and show Virginia and the nation what mainstream, conservative leadership can accomplish.
Bill Bolling is the lieutenant governor of Virginia and a candidate for the 2013 Republican Party gubernatorial nomination.