National Commentary

A Presidential Prediction From Northern Virginia

U.S. Congressmen Gerry Connolly said it almost casually at a Northern Virginia press conference Tuesday, but if he was right, he effectively announced the successful re-election of President Obama in the fall.

Connolly was sitting in his own 11th Congressional District of Virginia, having been the only one of two Democratic congressmen in Virginia to survive the 2010 mid-term elections. He told reporters in a matter-of-fact way that the President will carry his district by the same margin, 56 percent, this November as he did in 2008.

“We are well poised to win,” he said. “Obama won by 56 percent in my district last time, and we’ll match that this time.”

That was a bombshell bit of news, even discounting the partisan nature of the announcement, because last time it was the 11th District, covering the eastern end of Virginia’s gigantic million-strong Fairfax County, that provided more than the total margin of victory for Obama overall in Virginia, turning the state “Blue” in a presidential election for the first time since 1964.

Now, both parties acknowledge that Virginia is a hyper-battleground state. Few think either Obama or Mitt Romney can win the national election without carrying Virginia. Therefore, for Connolly to “call” his district for Obama now, and by the same margin as in 2008, means, if he’s right, that Obama will carry Virginia again, and get re-elected in November.

Those who know Connolly know he’s not a Pollyanna, but a realistic pragmatist who deftly commanded the always-embattled Board of Supervisors chairmanship for Fairfax County before getting elected to Congress, and who beat the odds by successfully weathering a rough and tumble re-election battle last time. If anything, he knows his constituents.

Still, he’d be the last one to be cavalier about the matter of the November election. But for Northern Virginia, and his district, its boundaries slightly altered in his favor through re-districting last year, the benefits of Obama’s economic stimulus efforts could not be more clear.

Connolly said emphatically that had Obama not undertaken the massive stimulus effort he did when he first came into office, the nation would have fallen into a Second Great Depression.

The data from the U.S. Federal Reserve released this week documenting the extraordinary loss of value of average American households in the wake of the financial meltdown beginning in 2007 underscored the point. With Americans suffering a swift decline in their median net worth of a whopping 39 percent between 2007 and 2010, there can be little doubt that but for the president’s stimulus, the nation would have gone over the economic cliff.

While matters remain shaky, because the current European financial crisis is only the latest manifestation of the global meltdown begun in 2007, the wiping out of the buying power of American families will continue to frustrate a genuine economic recovery, and if anything, even more stimulus is needed now.

But the benefits of the stimulus not only preserved jobs and living standards nationally, they helped enormously in Connolly’s district, where all those votes need to come from to secure the president’s re-election.

It helped to complete the Fairfax Parkway, a project that had been languishing. It provided $65 million to get the project, 30 years in the making, to be completed in record time. It accelerated the expansion of the D.C. region’s Metro Rail system through Fairfax County en route to the Dulles International Airport. The amount of digging and major construction underway in the Tysons Corner area of the county has been breathtaking, and hasn’t relented since Obama’s inauguration in January 2009.

The stimulus save the jobs of hundreds of teachers, firefighters, police and other public servants in the region, to the point that even Virginia’s Republican governor Bob McDonnell had to concede recently that the stimulus allowed him to balance the state budget.

Across the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., Connolly quipped, “It is like Alice in Wonderland. There are those who claim the stimulus was wrong. But the principles of Keynesian economics have not changed. The stimulus saved the country.”

It saved the country from a Great Depression, and also may save it from a Romney presidency.


UPDATED: corrected 2nd paragraph to “one of two Democratic congressman.”