Larry Sabato on the 28th District Race

UVA political analyst Larry Sabato seems to believe that Chichester will win in the 28th District over Mike Rothfeld. . . that is, unless. . . .

Speaking to the Fredericksburg Rotary Club last night, Sabato, a professor at the University of Virginia, predicted that only low turnout–below 15 percent–will put Chichester in danger of losing his seat in the June 10 primary.

The danger for Chichester lies in Rothfeld’s supporters, who can be counted on to show up at the polls.

In comments after his speech, Sabato said Rothfeld’s showing in the 2000 Republican primary for the 1st District congressional seat –Rothfeld captured 22 percent of the vote–“means he can deliver the true believers.

A few observations:

(1) The true believers are fired up to show at the polls.

(2) Recent polling data shows that Chichester’s support among GOP activists has dropped by half.

(3) Turnout in GOP primaries continues to hover at about 22%. If 15% is the magic number, in an off-year election primary 15% may be generous. Even in the average scenario, Mike still pulls the majority of GOP votes.

(4) Churches and hard-core tax activists are going to turn out to vote, rain or shine. That means no matter how nasty the campaign gets, or how much rain there is outside, conservatives will vote while moderates stay home.

So what happens now? This election (unfortunately) hinges on how many Democrats turn out to vote for Chichester. If they do, then he wins. If they stay home, Rothfeld wins. Only under the freak scenario that the Dems have a candidate in the wings and get the word out to vote for Rothfeld does the Democratic turnout work favorably for conservatives.

Other than that, both campaigns are in the home stretch. This one will pan out on Election Day, and not one day before. Poor Larry just doesn’t live here to know any better.

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