What are Mark Warner and Jim Webb Waiting for

In the next few weeks, the Kerry-Lieberman-Graham clean energy bill will come up for consideration on the Senate floor. While we do not yet know what is in and what is out of the bill, the NRDC Action fund has begun a campaign to ensure that Senators hear from their constituents on this vitally important legislation.

What we are doing is drawing the focus on Senators who will play a key role in the drive to pass the bill. We began last week with Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts. If you live in Massachusetts, it is not too late to join in this effort. Please sign our letter and post a note of support for clean energy legislation on Senator Brown's Facebook Wall. If you do not live in Massachusetts, and are wondering if your Senator could use a little encouragement, click here and you can post something on their Facebook wall, or call their office. 

This week, as we hope Scott Brown is hearing from folks in Massachusetts loud and clear, we also turn our attention to Virgina, and its two Senators, Mark Warner and Jim Webb. Each of these men is well-poised to play a critical role in getting this bill passed, and they should each do everything they can to make that happen.

Both men arrived in DC with proven records of success in their respective fields. Other lawmakers are courting their votes and looking to them for guidance. These Senators carry a lot of weight and because of this, they can be key players in passing clean energy legislation.

Both men have stated that they believe America should reduce its global warming pollution. Now we have to translate that belief into action.

Senator Webb has possibly the best understanding of America's national security needs in the Senate. Webb served as a marine in Vietnam and as Secretary of the Navy. He has also been an outspoken advocate for our veterans and has shown himself to be an effective negotiator, and powerful leader in the Senate.

When the Quadrinnel Defense Review included climate change as a significant threat to U.S. National Security, Senator Webb was already working on a proposal with Senator Alexander (R-TN).

Unfortunately, he has been a strong defender of fossil fuels and outdated energy technologies. We need to get him into the clean energy camp.

Senator Warner seems to be moving our way. He recently co-led an effort to show support for comprehensive climate and energy legislation. Along with Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), he got 22 senators to sign on to a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) calling on him to bring a bill to the floor.

Senator Warner is a businessman. After he helped found cell phone giant Nextel, he became a highly respected governor of Virginia. He turned deficits to surpluses during a recession by working with members from both parties. As a result he was recognized as having run the best managed state in the country.

The world is not waiting for the U.S. to get moving on clean energy technologies, and the longer we wait, the more competing nations are able to get a head start. China's investment in clean tech R&D is nearly double that of the U.S. As a result, much of the job creation and economic growth that come with clean energy innovation are already happening in China.

Surely Mark Warner will understand the business importance of making progress on clean energy and not ceding an even larger advantage to overseas interests. Surely Mark Warner gets that borrowing billions from China to buy oil from the Middle East is not smart financially.

Senator Warner understands the urgent need for this legislation in more than just business terms. In September of 2009, Senator Warner said:

"The idea that we're going to, for one more year, delay trying to take on this critically important issue around energy, would be a competitive, financial, and potentially environmental disaster."

But perhaps the most important reason Senators Warner and Webb should be leaders on this issue, is that passing a clean energy bill now would be good for the people of Virginia. Virginia is one of the top recipients of federal Research and Development funding, the state's economy would likely get a big boost from the passage of clean energy legislation. Because of its proud tradition of producing exceptional men and women in uniform, Virginia has felt the strain from the extended and repeat deployments of America's military to fight enemies who benefit from our dependence on oil. Passing a clean energy bill will contribute to a vibrant economy for Virginia, and will make it easier for our military, including its proud members from Virginia to defend our nation.

So lets get to work telling Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb that we want them to step up at lead on passing the clean energy bill:

1. Sign the letter here.

2. Post a note of support for clean energy on their Facebook Walls: Warner Webb

3. Ask your friends to do the same by posting this to your Facebook, and Twitter.

Thanks for your help, and stay tuned as we encourage more Senators to stand up and lead us to the robust economy, increased national security, and national prosperity that will come with a clean energy future.

Heather Taylor-Miesle is the director of the NRDC Action Fund. Become a fan on Facebook or Twitter.

What are Mark Warner and Jim Webb Waiting for

In the next few weeks, the Kerry-Lieberman-Graham clean energy bill will come up for consideration on the Senate floor. While we do not yet know what is in and what is out of the bill, the NRDC Action fund has begun a campaign to ensure that Senators hear from their constituents on this vitally important legislation.

What we are doing is drawing the focus on Senators who will play a key role in the drive to pass the bill. We began last week with Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts. If you live in Massachusetts, it is not too late to join in this effort. Please sign our letter and post a note of support for clean energy legislation on Senator Brown's Facebook Wall. If you do not live in Massachusetts, and are wondering if your Senator could use a little encouragement, click here and you can post something on their Facebook wall, or call their office. 

This week, as we hope Scott Brown is hearing from folks in Massachusetts loud and clear, we also turn our attention to Virgina, and its two Senators, Mark Warner and Jim Webb. Each of these men is well-poised to play a critical role in getting this bill passed, and they should each do everything they can to make that happen.

Both men arrived in DC with proven records of success in their respective fields. Other lawmakers are courting their votes and looking to them for guidance. These Senators carry a lot of weight and because of this, they can be key players in passing clean energy legislation.

Both men have stated that they believe America should reduce its global warming pollution. Now we have to translate that belief into action.

Senator Webb has possibly the best understanding of America's national security needs in the Senate. Webb served as a marine in Vietnam and as Secretary of the Navy. He has also been an outspoken advocate for our veterans and has shown himself to be an effective negotiator, and powerful leader in the Senate.

When the Quadrinnel Defense Review included climate change as a significant threat to U.S. National Security, Senator Webb was already working on a proposal with Senator Alexander (R-TN).

Unfortunately, he has been a strong defender of fossil fuels and outdated energy technologies. We need to get him into the clean energy camp.

Senator Warner seems to be moving our way. He recently co-led an effort to show support for comprehensive climate and energy legislation. Along with Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), he got 22 senators to sign on to a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) calling on him to bring a bill to the floor.

Senator Warner is a businessman. After he helped found cell phone giant Nextel, he became a highly respected governor of Virginia. He turned deficits to surpluses during a recession by working with members from both parties. As a result he was recognized as having run the best managed state in the country.

The world is not waiting for the U.S. to get moving on clean energy technologies, and the longer we wait, the more competing nations are able to get a head start. China's investment in clean tech R&D is nearly double that of the U.S. As a result, much of the job creation and economic growth that come with clean energy innovation are already happening in China.

Surely Mark Warner will understand the business importance of making progress on clean energy and not ceding an even larger advantage to overseas interests. Surely Mark Warner gets that borrowing billions from China to buy oil from the Middle East is not smart financially.

Senator Warner understands the urgent need for this legislation in more than just business terms. In September of 2009, Senator Warner said:

"The idea that we're going to, for one more year, delay trying to take on this critically important issue around energy, would be a competitive, financial, and potentially environmental disaster."

But perhaps the most important reason Senators Warner and Webb should be leaders on this issue, is that passing a clean energy bill now would be good for the people of Virginia. Virginia is one of the top recipients of federal Research and Development funding, the state's economy would likely get a big boost from the passage of clean energy legislation. Because of its proud tradition of producing exceptional men and women in uniform, Virginia has felt the strain from the extended and repeat deployments of America's military to fight enemies who benefit from our dependence on oil. Passing a clean energy bill will contribute to a vibrant economy for Virginia, and will make it easier for our military, including its proud members from Virginia to defend our nation.

So lets get to work telling Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb that we want them to step up at lead on passing the clean energy bill:

1. Sign the letter here.

2. Post a note of support for clean energy on their Facebook Walls: Warner Webb

3. Ask your friends to do the same by posting this to your Facebook, and Twitter.

Thanks for your help, and stay tuned as we encourage more Senators to stand up and lead us to the robust economy, increased national security, and national prosperity that will come with a clean energy future.

Heather Taylor-Miesle is the director of the NRDC Action Fund. Become a fan on Facebook or Twitter.

Analyzing Swing States: Virginia, Part 4

This is the fourth part of a series of posts analyzing the swing state Virginia. It is the second section of two focusing on Northern Virginia, and focuses on analyzing the structural foundation behind NoVa’s Democratic shift. The fifth part can be found here.

 

Demographics

In many ways, Northern Virginia represents the best America has to offer. As wealthy, diverse, and rapidly growing suburb, it offers the very essence of the American Dream.

Demographically, Northern Virginia is one of those rare places whose racial composition is representative of America as a whole. In Fairfax County today blacks constitute 9.4% of the population, Hispanics 13.5% (nationally the numbers are 12.3% and 15.1%, respectively). Asians come in at 15.8%, a higher number than the national average.

As has been much noted, Northern Virginia is getting more diverse. In Fairfax County, for instance, the numbers of blacks, Hispanics, and Asians have all increased since the 2000 census – which counted blacks as 8.6%, Hispanics as 11.0%, and Asians as 13.0% of the population.

These changes are especially striking in exurban NoVa. Loudoun County, 2000 was 5.9% Asian and 5.3% Hispanic. Since then those numbers have more than doubled; from 2006-2008, the census estimated Loudoun as 12.3% Asian and 10.1% Hispanic (blacks constituted 7.8% of the county’s population).

Finally, Northern Virginia is very, very, very rich. The median household income in both Fairfax and Loudoun exceeds $100,000; a 2008 census study estimated them as the two wealthiest counties in America (see page 13). More than one-third of individuals over 25 in Arlington County hold graduate degrees, compared with less than 10% of Americans at large. Life expectancy is the highest in the nation.

The Future

Although Northern Virginia continues become more diverse, it is unclear how much more Democratic it can get. Suburbs rarely give a party more than 60% of the vote, and 65% seems to be the upper limit for Democrats. Given that President Barack Obama won 60.12% in Fairfax County, Democrats appear to be near this line.

On the other hand, the suburban metropolis that does break this rule (the Bay Area) has a lot in common with Northern Virginia. Like NoVa, the Bay Area is rich, diverse, and growing. But the Bay is also composed of a majority of minorities; this will not happen anytime soon in Northern Virginia.

Moreover, Virginia is missing the one piece that would truly make it a Democratic stronghold. Democratic suburbs like NoVa often surround poor, astonishingly Democratic cities. The good news is that NoVa does surround such a city – and that city gave Democrats 92.46% of its vote in 2008. The bad news is that the city’s name is Washington D.C.

All this may not matter, however, if Northern Virginia continues its rapid growth. Today the exurbs in Loudoun and Prince Williams are the main sites of development, while Fairfax County’s growth appears to have slowed down. This translates into many more voters:

As Loudoun and Prince Williams become more diverse, moreover, they are been voting ever more Democratic. In 2000 Loudoun voted Republican by a 8.25% margin; in 2008 it voted Democratic by a 15.22% margin.

If Northern Virginia continues growing at this rate – and voting Democratic by a 3-2 margin – Virginia may eventually change into a Democratic-leaning state. This will probably be balanced out as other Democratic states naturally turn Republican-leaning. Nevertheless, adding NoVa to the old Democratic base leaves the Democratic Party in strong shape. That traditional base will be the subject of the next post.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

Analyzing Swing States: Virginia, Part 3

This is the third part of a series of posts analyzing the swing state Virginia. It is the first section of two focusing on Northern Virginia. The fourth part can be found here.

NoVa

A vast and growing suburban metropolis, Northern Virginia has become increasingly important in Virginia politics. There, demographic changes have imperiled Republican dominance of Virginia.

To illustrate the exceptional nature of this movement, compare the two elections below. Here is 2000:

Governor George W. Bush has won Virginia by a comfortable 8.1% margin, carving out the traditional Republican coalition of rural and suburban Virginia. As this picture indicates, Virginia Democrats in 2000 really don’t have a base of support, except perhaps the heavily black southeast parts of the state.

Eight years later, Northern Virginia has transformed:

Before digging into the dynamics of modern NoVa, it is worth exploring its past behavior to gain a sense of context.

A History

Northern Virginia was not always as populous as it is today; well into the twentieth century, it remained a rural (and heavily Democratic) backwater. In the 1940 presidential election, for instance, less than 10,000 people voted in Arlington County.

Growth began in the 1940s, however, driven by an ever-expanding federal government. The inner-ring suburbs in Arlington started expanding first, followed by Fairfax County in the 1950s. Like many other white and wealthy suburbs, Northern Virginia leaned Republican during this era.

Unlike some suburbs, however, Northern Virginia never fell in love with Republicanism. In Fairfax County, Republican presidential candidates only once took more than 65% of the vote (in 1972) – something which would regularly happen in a place like Chesterfield County, a suburb of Richmond.

Change first began in the 1980s, when inner-ring suburbs such as Arlington started voting Democratic. In the 2000 map, one sees Arlington County as the lonely blue bubble to the right of Fairfax County.

By 2000, as the graph above indicates, change was coming to the suburban communities in Fairfax. In 2004 the county voted Democratic by a 7.30% margin, which should have been a warning sign to Republicans. A mere two years later, it powered Democratic candidate Jim Webb to a narrow victory over incumbent Senator George Allen (he won the county by 18.9%). In 2008 Fairfax – well, just look at the map to see what happened in 2008.

In just eight short years, Northern Virginia has turned from a Republican-leaning suburb into a fundamental part of the Democratic base. Virginia has changed from a red state into a purple one, due mainly (but not entirely) to Northern Virginia.

The next post will explore Northern Virginia today – in order to get a sense of how this has happened.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

Analyzing Swing States: Virginia, Part 1

This is the first part of a series of posts analyzing the swing state Virginia. The second part can be found here.

During the ’08 campaign, the political beltway famously defined Virginia as a Republican stronghold gone Democratic. For ten straight presidential elections, the state had reliably turned up in the Republican column. President Barack Obama, however, promised to change that – and he did.

Virginia indeed is becoming bluer – but not as much as one might think. The state moved Republican sooner than the rest of the South, but never became as deep red as places like Alabama. The actual trend from ’04 to ’08 is less prominent than one might think:

I think this in fact slightly understates Republican strength. Mr. Obama, after all, fit extremely well with Virginia’s Democratic base – blacks and rich NoVa residents. He might have overperformed. In many ways, Virginia still constitutes a purple state, perhaps even a red-leaning one. Democrats must run competent candidates and/or do this in favorable national environments; if both conditions are missing, they may get pummeled ala Creigh Deeds.

This may change in the future. As its wealthy, diverse, and Democratic-leaning NoVa suburbs continue growing; Virginia may soon become more Democratic than even Pennsylvania. This trend was much noted in 2008.

What is less noted is the degree to which the media has overstated this change. These demographic shifts are the work of decades, not one election; they occur very gradually. Moreover, even as bluing NoVa expands, Virginia’s western regions continue to redden – especially the once Democratic-leaning panhandle. This blunts the NoVa effect. Virginia may be turning Democratic, but Democrats should not underestimate continued Republican strength.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

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