Election forecast: For first time in U.S. history, progressive Democrats likely to control a legislature in the South

Election forecast: For first time in U.S. history, progressive Democrats likely to control a legislature in the South
Information is 2010-2015 (Graphic credit: StatChat, Demographics Research Group UVA)

On November 5, Virginia holds state legislative elections. The Democrats are favored to take control of both houses of the state legislature, especially the state senate. But many races are very close — for example, a recent poll of four districts found Republican and Democratic candidates neck and neck, so close as to be within the margin of error.

A Democratic takeover will have far-reaching economic and social consequences for Virginia. It will likely be the first time in history that the progressive wing of the Democratic Party controls a southern legislature in the U.S.

In Virginia, the legislature is very powerful. It even selects the state’s judges. The state has a Democratic governor, who is unlikely to veto even highly-controversial progressive legislation.

The Democratic takeover is likely to lead to major tax increases. That is both because of the size of the new state spending they support, and because Democrats’ labor policies will shrink the size of the state’s economy, eliminating at least 100,000 jobs. That will result in a large shortfall in revenue. (A detailed explanation is at this link).

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Democrats are likely to make major changes to labor policy, such as repealing the state’s right to work law, which has attracted tens of thousands of jobs to Virginia. States with right-to-work laws have double the job growth of states that don’t, and higher disposable incomes.

The Democratic legislature is also likely to expand government funding for abortion; make it easier to get a third-trimester abortion; abolish the death penalty even for the worst murderers; and restrict religious freedom.

The state Democrats’ version of the “Green New Deal” could easily double Virginians’ electric bills. And there is no guarantee that spending on it would even do much to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, given its impracticality.

Legislation signed by the state’s Democratic governor and championed by state senate Democrats already has increased Virginians’ utility bills, with no clear environmental benefit. For example, recent changes to coal-ash storage rules will cost Virginia utility customers an estimated $225 million per year. But they will likely do nothing to prevent leaks or pollution.

As the longtime journalist James A. Bacon notes, Virginia is on the verge of becoming New Jersey, politically speaking.

The last day to request an absentee ballot in Virginia is October 29. You can also vote in-person absentee until November 2, if you are going to be outside of Virginia for at least part of election day.

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. He also once worked in the Education Department. Hans writes for CNSNews.com and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” Contact him at [email protected]

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