If the 8th District electorate were ever to send a Republican to the House, it seemed like this was the year. The national sentiment roared against incumbents, especially long-tenured mainstays like Congressman Jim Moran.
Democrats never flinched.
Just as Tuesdays election was a national referendum on President Obama and the Democrat-controlled House, it also gauged the probability of Republicans taking the dark blue 8th any time soon and the chances are slim, say the numbers.
Patrick Murrays campaign was highly visible. It saturated the area with yard signs, e-mail blasts and high-profile fundraisers. The candidate himself toured Alexandria and the rest of the district in a giant bus that channeled John McCains presidential bid.
Yet Murray won only four precincts out of 156 throughout the district one in nearby Belle Haven and three in far-flung Fairfax.
Still, the challenger tied Scott Tate for the best performance against Moran in recent memory with only a 24-point loss. Tate ran in 2002 alongside a Senate race, yet Tuesdays election saw a higher turnout. In elections across the country, victors were ecstatic to win by five points this year.
Northern Virginia seems insulated from national politics.
Obamas first midterm election was marked by a historic Republican wave, but even a wave of that size has some limitations, said Isaac Wood of University of Virginias Center for Politics. Jim Moran was never on national Republican target lists and despite the hopes of some local Republicans, he was elected easily to his 11th term.
National fervor, which turned Virginia blue in 2008, failed to turn Northern Virginia even light blue this year. So what would it take? A hot-ticket presidential bid from a GOP member? Re-districting? Can 8th District values be swayed by a campaign alone?
I think theres a lot we can take from this [election], said 8th District Republican Party Chair Mike Ginsberg. Every election weve been trying different things in our units to improve and affect precinct operations. Every time we do this weve gotten a little bit better and part of that upward trend is hard work and gaining experience.
The upward trend for GOP success is minimal, hovering around 35 percent per House election since 1998, but it is generally upward nonetheless.
Alexandrias electorate last year elected two Republicans to city council, which shattered the governmental mold locally and signified at least a small change. Murray came within less than a point of beating Moran at Alexandrias City Hall precinct in Old Town, and came just as close at one precinct in Arlington. These are specs on a giant radar. Even Councilman Frank Fannon, one of the two Republicans elected last year, thinks America is renting Republicans for the next 24 months.
Everything could change when the U.S. Census forces redistricting or if the next two years again alter national sentiments toward government or if a political scandal rears its head. With so many uncertainties and moving parts, speculation is just that: speculation. At least local Republicans hope so.