Statistically speaking, slightly more people are disappointed than are blue in Rappahannock County today.
Blue state, red state, “battleground” state – Virginia was all of those on Tuesday, Election Day. When the final tally was made not long before midnight, however, a majority of the state’s voters chose to give President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden four more years in office. Statewide, 51 percent of voters (or about 1.874 million) chose the Democratic ticket, while 48 percent (1.765 million) voted for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
In Rappahannock County, its neighboring Piedmont counties and in similarly rural areas throughout the state, the map is almost completely red – with blue spots in the counties and cities along its northern and eastern edges nearest to Washington, D.C., Richmond and Hampton Roads, and Charlottesville.
Rappahannock County had a 76 percent turnout – 4,374 of its 5,776 voters came to the polls Tuesday, in some places causing longer lines than many veteran poll workers could recall, although it was in fact fewer than turned out in 2008. In that election, while Virginia again went for Obama, a record 78.5 percent, or 4,405 of Rappahannock’s voters, turned out; in that case giving Republican Sen. John McCain a 122-vote lead over Obama.
As in 2008, Rappahannock’s six precincts revealed a bit of their partisan population makeup: In the presidential race, Sperryville and Scrabble both went for Obama, while Washington and Flint Hill were close (tilting this election toward the Republican candidate, in 2008 toward Obama). The Chester Gap and Amissville precincts voted by the widest margins for Romney.
Rappahannock’s overall results: President: Obama 1,971; Romney, 2,307. Senate: Allen, 2,268; Kaine, 2,028; House of Representatives 5th district: Hurt, 2,223; Douglass, 2,038.
In the 5th district race for Congress, Virginia’s voters also chose Democrat Tim Kaine over Republican George Allen – though, again, not in Rappahannock.
“I think it would have helped Kaine if he had come to the county. Allen was here twice,” said Henry Gorfein of Washington, a member of the county’s Democratic Committee. “The Republicans are very, very well organized.”
“It’s very important to keep in mind,” said longtime Amissville resident Beverly Hunter, “that the work we have to do locally requires us to not be very engaged in partisan politics.” The founder and president of Rappahannock Friends and Lovers of Our Watershed (or RappFLOW), Hunter added: “Our motto is, ‘All voices at the table.’ ”
“I had hope,” said Rappahannock Republican Committee chair Evelyn Kerr. “But I’m not surprised by what happened. We had a degree of optimism but we also had the sense of reality, and we knew what Obama had already done in the first term, and recognized that . . . what he was capable of, he and his administration, what they were capable of doing.”
On Wednesday, Kerr said, she was feeling “a little saddened” by the outcome, although of the local voting results, she added: “We take pride in that.” She said local Republicans, working with Friends of Liberty and other groups to get the vote out over the last year, made her proud.
“I have to say – I have never seen a more honest, dedicated group of patriots and people who love the Constitution . . . all of these people are pure of heart. I was just so proud of their work and their dedication. We were all disappointed, but we’ll get over the disappointment. And get back to work in January.”
“This is a clear-cut victory,” said John Diley, current chair of the county’s Democratic Committee. “I think it shows the majority of people remember we’re a heck of a lot better off than we were four years ago, when the bottom dropped out . . . and there was no bottom in sight. I’m looking forward to the next four years.”
Active local Republican Demaris Miller had a different outlook. “People are hurting, and Obama’s policies will hurt them even more . . . people in business are horrified. We’re headed for a fiscal cliff in January . . . Obama needs to do something he hasn’t done in four years – exercise genuine economic leadership.”
Democrat Ralph Bates said the thing people should be hoping for most at this point is cooperation.
“Everyone is sick of the divisiveness from both sides. I’m hoping he [Obama] will do what he said he would last night and ‘try again,’ and work in a bipartisan way . . . if we can’t find a compromise, we’re in for a very long recovery and maybe another recession,” Bates added. “There needs to be give and take on both sides . . . if we can’t compromise, none of it is going to work.”