social issues

#Distraction

On Saturday, Democrat Terry McAuliffe was sworn in as the 72nd Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and it didn't take long before he dove into the "social issues" liberals have always claimed are "distractions" from the "real issues," such as jobs and the economy. In his inaugural address, Governor McAuliffe said:

We must work . . . to ensure that someone can't lose a job simply because they are gay.

And to ensure that every woman has the right to make her own personal health care decisions. 

As expected, his first act of business had nothing to do with the economy, but was to issue Executive Order No. 1 that purports to provide special hiring protections in state government based on sexual behavior. Of course, what Governor McAuliffe failed to mention is that no evidence exists that discrimination based on "sexual orientation" is taking place. In fact, if discrimination in state hiring took place, you can be guaranteed that the ACLU, Equality Virginia and other groups would be parading that person around Virginia with the media hysterically telling everyone about it. Their silence on providing evidence is all we need to know about the needlessness of the executive order, while the evidence that elevating sexual behavior to special status is a threat to religious liberty is plentiful.

Of course, in his speech Governor McAuliffe wouldn't utter the word "abortion," instead using the liberal euphemism for taking the life of your unborn child, "health care decisions." The reality is that women in Virginia can have an abortion anytime they want and for just about any reason, and nothing interferes with their "personal health care decision" to do so. What is, interfering, however, is Obamacare, which has the full support of McAuliffe. Women in Virginia don't have the freedom to choose their own doctor. Women in Virginia don't have the freedom to choose their own insurance. But Governor McAuliffe seems perfectly content with the government taking those freedoms away. The hypocrisy is stunning.

Already, our policy team is working to defeat the nearly two dozen abortion or sex-related bills introduced by liberals in Richmond. While fewer Americans are working today than were when Jimmy Carter was president, secular liberals are obsessed with abortion and sex. Perhaps they think the "war on women" narrative will provide cover for them while the economy continues to sink? And you needn't worry about the media exposing them. At a Capitol Square press conference yesterday to unveil some of the 20-odd bills on the Democrats'  social issue agenda (see our reaction, here), Delegate Kay Kory (D-38, Falls Church) pleaded with reporters to "be there" when these bills are heard, even if the meetings are late at night. These legislators want the media there because they know the coverage given often is favorable to their agenda.

Last Thursday, we released some of our legislative agenda to the media. You can read our news release here. We look forward to advocating for these and other proposals in the coming weeks. Regardless of who sits in the Executive Mansion, we will work as hard as possible to advance and protect the principles and values we share.

Responding Where The Left Goes Unchallenged

One of the great challenges of The Family Foundation is to be a voice of reason in a world where the media carries the message of the left without any challenge to its lack of logic. Within the past few days, I've encountered a number of these opportunities.

In an interview with a clearly biased reporter, which she indicated would be about abortion center safety standards, I was asked to respond to the 18 percent drop in the abortion rate over the last five years. Without more specific information, I respond that many common sense abortion laws had been passed in addition to the great work done in the area of foster care and adoption. But this response doesn't match the reporter’s narrative. The official narrative, her narrative, was that any drop in abortion must relate to contraception.

Basic knowledge of biology says that only a drop in the pregnancy rate, not the abortion rate, can be directly attributed to contraception. For simplicity sake, consider this example: Let's say 1,000 women got pregnant in 2007 and 25 women chose abortion, but in 2011, 1,000 women got pregnant and only 20 women chose abortion. In this example, the number of conceptions has not changed (still 1,000) and thus tying the decrease in abortion (25 to 20) to contraception is illogical. Rather, it means that five women made alternate choices from abortion regarding their pregnancies.

With this in mind, I found it interesting when the reporter next began to challenge me on contraception but never told me anything about the pregnancy rate or even the "unintended" pregnancy rate during the five year period.

What is known is that even the Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of the abortion industry, acknowledges:

In six [countries] — Cuba, Denmark, Netherlands, the United States, Singapore and the Republic of Korea — levels of abortion and contraceptive use rose simultaneously.

To get a more accurate picture of what is actually happening in Virginia, one would need the birth rate, abortion rate and the number of children given up for adoption over time. Without that, both sides of this debate can guess at a reporter's questions and the reporter can angle her story in whatever direction she chooses.

A second opportunity to be a voice of reason took place when I was asked to respond to a Washington Post poll of Virginia voters and their views on various social issues. Prior to the interview, I requested to see the poll. The response from the reporter was "I'm afraid we don't normally share the poll." Seriously? I'm supposed to listen to the reporter's summation of the results and draw conclusions based on her conclusions? Yes, that's their hope because the assumption is that like dumb sheep, the right can be led into a ditch. The reporter was obviously dismayed that I challenged nearly all of the poll's assumptions.

As an example of the problem opining without data causes, the reporter asked me if the Republican Party ought to change its position to attract more voters as a result of the alleged shift on same-sex marriage. This question required me to presume the rest of her poll that I had not seen. I mentioned that if this poll matched any other poll on this matter, then the reporter would know that minorities support traditional marriage. She seemed surprised that I would draw this distinction but fully acknowledged that my point was well taken, was supported by the details of the poll and that changing a position on same-sex marriage wasn't going to attract the minorities the Republican Party is desperate to reach. (Oh, and shockingly, no questions about the Kermit Gosnell trial or the nearly 300 health and safety violations in Virginia's abortion centers. Then again, why ask about what you refuse to report?)

This interview leads me to the final difficulty of trying to present reason in a world where narratives are predetermined. Two days ago, I received a call at home from Quinnipiac asking me to take a political survey. I readily agreed but discovered just what I feared. When asked my top issue for determining how I vote, I was given approximately 10 choices, none of which were values issues. Similarly, I was asked about the Star Scientific situation regarding both Governor Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli but was never asked about Terry McAuliffe's false claims regarding green technology and jobs. Zero questions about the abysmal conditions found in Virginia's abortion centers. Even funnier, I was asked if I consider myself "Born Again," "Evangelical" or "None of the above." I'd love to meet someone who is "Evangelical" but not "Born Again." When the questions are this biased and misinformed, it's hard, if not impossible, for a polling company to get a clear sense of the electorate.

But then again, if the purpose of the poll is to reinforce a predetermined narrative, the pollsters, nor the media, are interested in the sense of the electorate. They are trying to steer the electorate. Which is one reason why, despite not knowing all the details, I do these interviews. If there isn't a voice of reason included in the story, the media wins without a fight.

Delegate Todd Gilbert Named TFF’s Legislator Of The Year

On Friday, we presented Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock) with The Family Foundation's 2013 Legislator of the Year Award. The presentation was made at the Valley Family Forum's annual dinner in Harrisonburg. This year, Delegate Gilbert was the House patron for one of our most consequential legislative priorities, legislation that protects the freedom of association and freedom of religion rights of student groups on public college campuses. This followed his leadership last year on legislation that protects the rights of faith-based child placement agencies to operate according to their religious beliefs. Both bills protecting our liberty have become models for the rest of the nation. About receiving the award, Delegate Gilbert said:

I was surprised and honored to be named The Family Foundation's Legislator of the Year. The Family Foundation and I have teamed up in the last few years to do some amazing work protecting religious liberty and traditional moral values, and together we have accomplished some great things for Virginia.

Delegate Gilbert's solid pro-life, pro-family voting record is complemented only by his leadership in his caucus, in committee, and on the floor of the House, where he is more than willing to stand — no doubt much to the chagrin of some around him — to defend life, marriage and religious liberty, and to take on those legislators who seek to undermine our values and principles.

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Delegate Todd Gilbert (L) receives The Family Foundation Legislator of the Year Award and congratulations from TFF Vice President for Policy and Communications Chris Freund.

Delegate Gilbert's leadership has made him the target of the secular left, and in particular Equality Virginia. The state's largest homosexual organization has targeted Delegate Gilbert because of his strong stance on religious liberty and his opposition to adding protection for sexual behavior to the state's non-discrimination law. In an environment of hostility, where the very phrase "social issues" or "values issues" causes some of our elected officials to reflexively run for cover, the media hysteria over anything pro-life or pro-family, and the secular left's endless rhetorical assault on conservative legislators — plus a clear cultural shift away from Godly principles and a too often silent church — few legislators are willing to lead like Delegate Gilbert.

It is always an honor to present an award to legislators of conviction who put principle before politics to advance our shared values. Congratulations to Delegate Gilbert for winning this year's Legislator of the Year award. We look forward to continuing to work with him on protecting and advancing our values.

Fundraising Off Of A False Fear

When the General Assembly convenes tomorrow, there will be at least one social issue that the media and the radical secular left will be promoting — adding sexual orientation to the Commonwealth's "non-discrimination" laws. While spun by groups like Equality Virginia as simply allowing "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) Virginians to be who they are, have a more secure financial future and build stronger families," changing the Commonwealth's current law to be even more expansive than federal protections brings a host of problems to Virginia. Current Virginia non-discrimination laws mirror federal law for a variety of reasons, including court precedent. In Virginia, evidence that discrimination against homosexuals is taking place in state government, or anywhere for that matter, is less than compelling. According to the Department of Human Resource Management, which tracks allegations of discrimination, from 1992 forward there were 24 registered complaints based on sexual orientation, amounting for fewer than 2 per year. Among these 24 complaints in an 18-year period, not all complaints can be assumed to be founded. In fact, from July 1, 2009 – March 9, 2010, only three complaints of sexual orientation discrimination were filed; and as of the March date, none had been deemed "founded."

Even The Washington Post admits that . . .

thousands of homosexuals work in state government.

Testimony on this kind of legislation in past General Assembly sessions has essentially been about a "fear" of discrimination, a fear not based on actual incidents of discrimination. Sadly, much of that fear is fueled more by the scare tactic fundraising efforts of groups like Equality Virginia than it is by reality. Unfortunately, while Governor Bob McDonnell has made it expressly clear that discrimination in his administration will not be tolerated, and evidence of discrimination is non-existent, some homosexual state workers live in fear because of the rhetoric of homosexual rights groups. In fact, a few weeks ago, Equality Virginia sent out a fundraising e-mail alert focusing on our opposition to adding sexual orientation to "non-discrimination" laws.

Unfortunately, recent incidents across the nation have exposed the agenda of militant homosexual rights groups as being about far more than "equality" or "stronger families." It is very clear, after viscous rhetorical attacks on businesses that simply adhere to a traditional view of family structure, the attempted public humiliation and job discrimination against people who simply sign petitions that support marriage amendments, or the attempt to force faith-based ministries that help families and children to abandon their beliefs about family structure, there is far more to the "non-discrimination" effort that meets the eye.

While theoretically, the General Assembly will attempt to avoid "social issues" at the bequest of political pundits and the media, it will be interesting to see if those same media types and pundits label the "non-discrimination" effort as "distracting" and "divisive" social issues that should be avoided. Regardless, we will stand up to the hateful rhetoric of the secular left and encourage the General Assembly to maintain our current law.

Targeting Of ALEC Proves Far Left Is Out To Silence Conservatives Not Only On "Social Issues"

Many probably hoped that after the General Assembly left town for a few weeks, cooler heads would prevail and the left's hysteria would settle down a bit. Those of us who have been around here very long recognized just how unlikely that would be. So now it's House Speaker Bill Howell (R-28, Fredericksburg) who is in the cross-hairs of the far-left and their media allies. At a press conference this week regarding Virginia's high business climate rankings, the liberal machine continued its attacks on anything conservative. Now, the new attack line in Richmond is that Republicans are part of some kind of vast conspiracy of ideology and policy being led by a stealth-like corporate organization with a scary name: the American Legislative Exchange Council. After the press event's formal question and answer period ended, a liberal with something called ProgressVA approached the Speaker and  pushed him on his comments. Speaker Howell responded in a way for which he apologized yesterday.

You can read more about the exchange here at the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot and here at Bearing DriftBut the real story is the left's concentrated attack campaign on ALEC. Why was a representative of ProgressVA at the press conference in the first place? Previously, it issued a half-truth laced "report" on ALEC given credence by the Mainstream Media, especially the Washington Post.  In reality, it is a propaganda piece, not unlike NARAL's "study" on Pregnancy Resource Centers two years ago, which the MSM also jumped on. See a pattern here?

Despite the "report," ALEC reports its activities on its comprehensive website — hardly secretive. As with any other think tank, it provides state legislators with research, legislative concepts and model legislation, but from a distinctly conservative perspective. ALEC was co-founded in 1973 by conservative icon Paul Weyrich. In recent months, though, the far-left and its media allies have set their sights on ALEC and its corporate sponsors, bringing with them the hysteria and bullying that seems to drive American politics these days. Within hours, corporate sponsors of ALEC, such as Coca-Cola and McDonald's, caved faster than the Susan Komen group did to Planned Parenthood.

Writing at Bearing Drift, our friend Norman Leahy succinctly captures the absurdity of it all:

A shoddy report combined with sloppy reporting followed up by badgering questions and even more sloppy reporting. No wonder Howell was frustrated. 

I think the real entity owed an apology here is ALEC — by the WaPo, ProgressVa and the assorted nitwits who insist that the Speaker is engaging in a Somme-like offensive on women.

You may be asking yourself, why does this matter?

Frankly, the only crime that ALEC has committed is to formulate, organize and propagate conservative ideas and assist legislators in seeing those conservative principles put into practice. But in the age of Obama, doing so is viewed by the MSM and the far-left (redundant, I know) as a threat to the American way of life. Conservative discourse has become something that must be silenced. There was a time when the battle of ideas was at the heart of who we are as Americans, and was the very freedom the Founders fought and died (as did subsequent generations) to ensure would exist. Those days are gone.

That's why you should care. We expect the far-left to do all in its power to silence religious conservatives for reasons that go way beyond politics, but now it's going after the most a-religious of conservative organizations with the same hatred and ferocity. It's no longer only about "social issues" — it's about simply being conservative and our right to organize, advocate and promote our principles. The left fears our ideas, cannot defeat our ideas, so it must silence our ideas.

If anyone in Richmond thought the battle this past session was only about ultrasounds and adoption, they were sorely mistaken. It is about all of our conservative beliefs and whether our culture will even allow them to be spoken of. If you don't understand that, you don't understand just how extreme the far-left has become.

Who's Wasting Time And Not Dealing With The "Real Issues"?

One thing we hear often is that the General Assembly needs to work on "real issues," such as job creation, and stop "wasting time" on social issues; that Virginia's lawmakers must focus on their most important job — the budget. If so, then why are the same Senate liberals who say the legislative session's focus should be on the economy, blocking adoption of a budget? They aren't even willing to pass a Senate budget as a means to get to a conference committee with the House and work out differences. Twice, they've blocked a budget bill from advancing. Since the Constitution of Virginia requires 21 senators' approval to pass a budget, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling cannot break a tie. In fact, it doesn't even need to get to 20-20, as long as there are not more than 20 "yeas" as was the case on the 20-19 vote that none-the-less sank the Senate budget a couple of weeks ago. The missing vote was that of freshman Senator Barbara Favola (D-31, Arlington), who skipped the proceedings to do an interview on MSNBC about (drum roll, please) social issues! Was she doing the people's business or "wasting time"?

So, who's obstructing resolution of the "real issues"? Who's "wasting time"? The day each chamber presents its budget the chambers entertain floor amendments before the final up-or-down vote. There are dozens of floor amendments, each with the requisite questions of the patron, debate, parliamentary inquiry and vote. The Republican controlled Senate accepted almost all (if not all) of the Democrat sponsored amendments, a process that took considerable time and lasted late into the afternoon, delaying committee hearings into the evening. After all that work and all those accepted budget amendments, Senate Democrats still blocked passage of the budget. What was the purpose of offering all the amendments if they were still going to block the budget? Sounds like a "waste of time" that lasted a lot longer than any debate on a "social issue."

Days later, Senate Democrats, voting as a bloc of 20, put the kibosh on the House budget, even though it had come over with bipartisan support. Apparently, there were no interviews with left wing media that day. But they also had no interest in working (key word) to amend it to their satisfaction. If it's not about interviews or grandstanding, it's not worth their time. Who is obstructing the resolution of the "real issues"? Who is "wasting time"? And over what?

First it was about budget cuts, but all knew, including every editorial page in the commonwealth, that it was about committee assignments and power, a power they lost in the election despite favorably redrawn districts. Then the already thin veil had a wardrobe malfunction when Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) said it was all about parity on the Education and Health Committee (see Bearing Drift).

(Education and Health is where all pro-life issues are referred to in the Senate. Senator Saslaw, who is known for his bombast, two years ago in that committee ridiculed a large bipartisan vote on a House pro-life bill, saying delegates told him they only voted for it because they knew "we'd kill it over here," which no one believed and was an astonishing impugning of motives of fellow legislators. This year, knowing those bills would pass the Senate, these same delegates still voted for pro-life bills.)

Now, according to Senator Charles Colgan (D-29, Prince William) in a floor speech today, it's all about raising taxes. (Lose an election, raise voters' taxes? Sounds like retribution rather than "working" to help struggling families in a tough economy.)

Whether it's sour grapes or wanting to inflict pain on Virginia taxpayers, Senate Democrats, for once candidly speaking, have cornered themselves into not-very-enviable positions. Who wants to run on that platform?

We are two days away from session's end. Senate liberals still have not agreed to help pass a budget. By their own words, approving one is the most important job they have, especially in a challenging economy. Despite the eight weeks they've had to sort out differences, they continue to play games over the power they lost in November. We face deadlines for local governments to fund schools, police and fire fighters; to build or repave roads; for state agencies to continue vital services; for economic development incentives to be put into place; for healthcare — all the essential tools to maintain Virginia's place as the best managed state and best state for business.

So, we ask again: Who is obstructing work on the "real issues"? Who is "wasting time"?

Who's Extreme? Quinnipiac Poll Shows Large Majority Of Virginians Support Abortion Center Regulations

Christian conservatives are extremists. Out of touch. Want to force their view of the world, indeed, their religion, on all of us. 

That, basically, is what the Far Left, posing as pragmatists, even as self-styled libertarians, would have the public believe about Christian conservatives and the pro-life movement. No matter how much common sense a law about abortion center safety makes, for example, the Far Left rants hysterically about lost rights and a pending Christian theocracy. They pontificate about diversity of thought and redefine the founding ideals of Virginia and America — which is perfectly peculiar: Who knew there was a range of thought on the deaths of babies and the potential serious physical injuries to women as well as subsequent mental problems? In fact, don't the abortion-on-demand crowd cite vague "mental health" concerns as a be-all exception to allow abortion?

More disturbing is the pro-abortion side's assertion that Americans, and Virginians in particular, have somehow removed themselves from their centuries-long shared traditions, upbringings, faith and shared sense of values because fleeting, temporary political winds, often mild, and rarely caused by a serious discussion of "social issues." The fact is, whether rank and file Democrat or Republican, the vast majority of Americans and Virginians understand common, practical sense and know what is patently wrong and unfair. They know injustice and they know danger. They know a problem when they see one and demand it get fixed. Some things are simply inherent and instinctive.

Now, on the heels of tomorrow's meeting of the Virginia Board of Health to consider safety regulations for abortion centers, a Quinnipiac University Poll proves that the loud rantings of a few on the fringe mask a large consensus. Either that or Virginians are massively intolerant Christian bigots and zealots, or even uniformed, uneducated, backward simpletons, or maybe both — in the Far Left's view. Really, though, Virginians are just real. The essence of the poll:

Quinnipiac interviewed 1,368 registered Virginia voters from September 6-12 and 55 percent of them support holding abortion centers to tougher health standards and only 22 percent opposed. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.7 percentage points. Even the 50 percent who believe abortion should be legal (versus 41 percent who do not) said the proposed regulations are necessary to protect the health of women who have abortions.

Those are large numbers and you cannot get a majority on most any issue in a politically competitive state such as Virginia with only those from one party. Especially on abortion. It's an issue even many Republicans don't feel easy about. But most Virginians — Democrat, Republican, independent, Tea Party or true libertarian — know that societies form governments for core functions. Protecting its people is the primary one. It's just common sense — mainstream thought — that everyone but the Far Left has yet to figure out.

It's "Gay" Marriage, Stupid!

The normal political diatribe for years, from politicians and pundits alike, has been that the focus of nearly every candidate and elected official is and ought to be the economy. No need to be "distracted" by or waste time on those pesky social issues. Usually, that line is thrown in the face of values voters who actually care about the culture. Seldom is it used against those whose "values" are different than ours. Remember another famous line, "It's the economy, stupid"? With New York's legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo recently passing and signing same-sex marriage into law (see Chuck Donovan at Heritage's The Foundry Blog), the claim by any liberal politician or pundit — or anyone else for that matter — that the focus is, and must be, on economic issues amounts to nothing more than blatant hypocrisy. After all, during an economic meltdown in a state bleeding jobs, in a state on the verge of economic bankruptcy, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor Cuomo and the entire legislature were "distracted" for days debating homosexual marriage. (Not to mention Congress and the Obama administration last December, during a lame duck session, ramming through repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy as unemployment continued to skyrocket.)

Simply put, the next time someone tells you that social issues are a distraction from what's really important, they must be forced to answer the question, "What about New York?"

In Virginia, as we approach this November's crucial elections, that question isn't just for us, it's for the candidates as well. After all, as liberals across Virginia celebrate New York's attempt at redefining one of God's most basic institutions, candidates for the House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate must be asked, "What about New York?"

Politicians, policy makers and pundits, academics and activists simply can’t have it both ways. If social issues such as homosexual marriage are a distraction from the important economic issues, then every candidate in Virginia — regardless of political party — must reject what has happened in New York. If taking weeks to debate the definition of marriage is a waste of time then every candidate in Virginia must be absolutely critical of their colleagues in New York.

Is the same-sex marriage debate a distraction from what’s important? Yes? Go ahead, and say so. Oh, and if it's not, feel free to run on that in Southside and central Virginia.

Virginians made it clear where they stand on the issue of same-sex marriage in 2006. While the ink on our state constitutional amendment is barely dry, we at The Family Foundation have attempted to focus on other issues in recent years, issues like strengthening traditional marriage — the best economic safety net there is — to ensure Virginia’s future economic strength. But with what happened in New York, we have little choice but to once again ask every candidate for office in Virginia, "What about New York?"

So, maybe the question isn't so much about the economy as it is about New York. We look forward to their responses.

Virginians Support Same-Sex Marriage? Not So Fast . . .

The Sunday before Election Day 2006, a Richmond Times-Dispatch headline screamed that polling showed the Marriage Amendment campaign had tightened. The poll said that the amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman was supported by a slim 49-45 percent margin. That was the closest poll we had ever seen on the issue. Two days later, the amendment passed by a 14 point margin, 57-43 percent. How could the T-D poll have been so wrong just two days prior to the vote?

Polls taken over the years on the definition of marriage have wavered more than Tim Kaine on gay adoption (remember, running for governor in 2005 he opposed homosexual couples adopting, but now he's in favor of it). For example, Gallup polling on the issue of homosexual marriage went from 46 percent support in 2007, down to 40 percent in 2008 and 2009, but back up to 44 percent in 2010. So it doesn't surprise me at all that a Washington Post media poll of 1,000 people has found that, according to the Post, "Virginians are closely split on gay marriage" — and that the rest of the state's mainstream media ran with it.

But are they really?

The truth is that polls have been overwhelmingly disconnected from reality when it comes to the issue of homosexual marriage. One need look only as far as the 31 states that have had the issue put to the voters, and in every case the traditional definition of marriage has won, including California.

The longer I am involved in politics, the more dismissive I have become of most media polling. Many experts believe that, particularly on the issues of abortion and homosexuality, a lot of people tell a pollster what they think the pollster wants to hear. On the issue of same-sex marriage, while a few media polls indicate that people support it, in the 31 states where it has gone to the ballot the people have overwhelmingly rejected it. One might tell their neighbor they are open to homosexual marriage, but when the reality is in front of them in the voting booth, traditional marriage still resonates instinctively, intuitively, justly . . . morally.

Social issues such as abortion and homosexuality have dynamics at play that I don't think can be measured with simple media polling. Asking 1,000 people a simple question doesn't generally get to the core of complex issues. It makes for interesting editorial page fodder, but I doubt too many people take it seriously, except for the so-called "progressives" who will no doubt champion the media poll and bring the issue before the next General Assembly. I suspect some will even attempt to make it a campaign issue (funny, I thought it was all about the economy).

But I also find it interesting that the same "progressives" reject professional (not media) polling that shows an overwhelming number of Virginians support school choice. You see, polling can work both ways, which is why no one should base their beliefs or agenda on it. Sure, professionally done, in depth issue polling can provide insight, but hastily done media polls done over a weekend for the mainstream media isn't something I want to base any policy decision on. I certainly wouldn't want to base the future of our children on it.

While Some May Want A Truce On Social Issues, Governor McDonnell Says Press On

While some Republicans, in Virginia and nationally, think the time has come and passed on "social issues" (i.e., preserving life and marriage), and that elections can be won only from the "center," Governor Bob McDonnell has some news for you. Social issues matter and they are worth the fight. Charlottesville television station NBC29's RichmondReport conducted an interview (read here) with the governor and posted the video online today. He was asked if there should be a "truce on social issues," perhaps in response to Indiana governor and potential GOP presidential candidate Mitch Daniels, who created headlines last year when he said there should be a "truce" on social issues (i.e., throw in the towel, traditional marriage supporters and pro-lifers). Last week, Governor Daniels reiterated that position unapologetically in The Hill.

Equally unequivocal, Governor McDonnell said that while people tend to think first about jobs and fiscal issues during a tough economy, there are certain issues that must always be discussed because they go to the core of our founding, most especially life. He added that issues regarding the family are a significant aspect of public policy and government has a place in looking for solutions to problems affecting families and in making them stronger.

From the interview:

I believe that’s very much what the focus ought to be on right now, but to say we’re not going to discuss any social or values issues because they’re controversial, I don’t think is the right thing to do. ...

There are (issues) regarding life and marriage and family that there are public policies that I think the government needs to set. ...

No truce here, carry on: Governor McDonnell affirms the importance of life, marriage and other "social issues" in public policy that some politicians prefer to ignore.

Thanks, But No Thanks

So the fissure between some in the "Tea Party" movement and "social conservatives" continues to fester beneath the surface of American politics, revealing itself periodically, but not quite coming to a boil — yet. Yesterday, Politico ran a story about a letter sent by GOProud, a homosexual activist group, some tea party leaders and various bloggers, urging Republican leaders in Washington to avoid putting forward any legislation on those nasty little  social issues the Tea Party seems so bent on ignoring. Focus, they say, solely on limiting government. 

Mitch Daniels, your office is calling.

Truce. Let's bury the hatchet for a while and just focus on the issues where we agree. We'll get back to the "divisive social issues" later. There are more important things to deal with. 

We've heard it all before.

Now, there are many possible responses to this foolish line of thinking, not the least of which is the polling that shows an overwhelming majority of tea partiers as socially conservative, and the fact that pro-life and pro-marriage candidates dominate the class of new Congressmen that will arrive in Washington in January — many of whom ran campaigns that touted their socially conservative leanings. 

But you know all that already. 

I have some other reactions (not all printable!). For instance, this truce that's being pushed, does it include, say, GOProud's friends at the Human Rights Campaign and their state chapters like Equality Virginia? Or Planned Parenthood? Or NARAL? Will they cease and desist from pushing their agenda's during the "truce"? No more coming to the government for grants? No more money to Planned Parenthood? No more attempts to legislate same-sex marriage? 

Yea, that's what I thought. So we're being asked to just play defense? Sorry, I'll pass.

And why can't we focus on more than one issue at a time? Is it really that difficult? Honestly, social conservatives, who are also overwhelmingly fiscally conservative, have no problem working on lowering taxes and decreasing the enormity of government at the same time they seek to restore some ethical standards that once under-girded our culture. Is it so bad that our politicians can't think about two issues at once?

Don't answer that.

Frankly, this whole debate is wearing thin. News flash: social issues aren't going away. They aren't going away because for a large segment of the electorate, on both the left and the right, these issues matter. They matter a lot. They matter to those of us who believe that strong, stable, two parent families will reduce poverty a lot faster than any government program. They matter to those of us who understand that losing 50 million people from the population since abortion was made legal has had a $35 trillion negative impact on our economy (not to mention the fact that those are 50 million human beings we're talking about!). They matter to those of us who understand that our freedom to say what we believe and exercise our faith in the public square is threatened by the relentless march of secularism.

So no, I won't be joining any truce. The Family Foundation isn't joining any truce. We aren't going away. No matter how badly some in the "Tea Party" wish we would.

Misunderstanding The Constitution And Poverty: A Real Connection

Today is the 223rd anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, know as Constitution or Citizenship Day. Not surprisingly, polls are finding that a vast majority of Americans are woefully under-educated about the Constitution and its principles. One poll found two-thirds of Americans admit they don't have a clue what our nation’s foundational document says. This extraordinary failure of our education system is having a devastating impact on our society and culture. Not understanding the basic principles of our government, its duties and the restrictions our Founding Fathers placed on it, is at least partially responsible for the mess we now have in Washington, D.C. Blame the politicians, yes. But the fact remains that as long as Americans continue to vote for people like President Barack Obama, whose vision for our nation is thoroughly alien to that which our Founders created and to what the constitution actually states — as illustrated by his vast expansion of government — we are going to continue to get what we deserve.

One simple way to reconnect with our founding principles is to read the U.S. Constitution, which we highly encourage, especially on this anniversary day each year. Click here to read it if you haven't in a while. To see what one group is doing to improve constitutional literacy, and how you can help, click here.

Also on the front page of many newspapers today are reports that the poverty rate in the United States, to no one's surprise, has risen. Of course, most of the articles quote left-leaning politicians or think tanks that are quick to blame the government for not doing enough to take care of people in need. Unfortunately, because so many Americans don't know what our constitution says, or what our Founders meant by what it says, the message that "the government needs to do more" often finds support.

What the articles don't mention is that, according to the Heritage Foundation, "since the beginning of the War on Poverty, the U.S. has spent $15.9 trillion on means-tested welfare. And today, spending on welfare programs is 13 times greater than it was in 1964." Yet poverty continues to rise.

The articles choose to ignore the far more dramatic impact that family fragmentation and out-of-wedlock births have on poverty. For example, "children born to single mothers . . . are five times more likely to live in poverty than children born to married parents. Today, over 40 percent of children are born outside wedlock, and the numbers are particularly devastating for Hispanics (51.3 percent) and African-Americans (71.6 percent)." Marriage drops the probability of child poverty by an astonishing 82 percent.

We conservatives often are accused of focusing on "divisive" social issues such as marriage and abortion at the expense of "more important" issues like the economy and poverty. But it is, in fact, our concern about those in poverty that requires us to do more to promote and strengthen marriage. We can choose to continue down the route we've been following since 1964 and apply band-aid solutions after the fact, or we can do the hard work of providing the only long-range solution to poverty — stable marriages and families.

Calling A "Truce" On Social Issues?

Today, as we watch an out of control federal government spend our children's futures into fiscal oblivion, as we watch our own president ignore constitutional principles, and as we watch the greatest expansion of government in our lifetimes and the corresponding loss of freedom it brings — aren't the issues you and I care about, as your teenagers might say, "so yesterday"? I mean, we hear it all the time. From media pundits and politicians — even politicians who used to be one of us — we hear the new mantra that there are "more important issues that need to be dealt with," such as the economy, jobs and our security. However, abortion and traditional marriage — "family values" — are divisive distractions from what really matters.

Just recently, yet another political leader, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels — a "pro-family" Republican mentioned as a presidential candidate — urged us to "call a truce" (see Hot Air) on family issues until the nation's economic problems are solved. After all, aren't we all worried about the economy? Isn't making sure we have jobs so we can feed our families more important right now than so-called "social issues"? (See Weekly Standard.)

That is certainly what the political class in Richmond and Washington want us to think. And wouldn't it be so much easier for them if they didn’t have to be "distracted" by issues that they deem less important than the economy? So, how do I, the president of The Family Foundation, respond to that? Why do I believe our mission is more important than ever and that you need to be a part of that mission?

While there is no doubt that reinvigorating our economy and getting Americans back to work is a high priority, the way to do that is not government programs and giveaways. It is strong families that provide the foundation for financial success (study after study proves it, read here). Let's be frank — no matter how good the economy, our nation is in peril if we continue to ignore God's principles of justice for innocent life and family.

I am increasingly discouraged by what I see around me in our culture and, in particular, the increasing hostility toward religious faith in the public square. Our religious freedom is facing a crucial challenge. I honestly believe that our right to practice our faith — to exercise our religion and voice our opinions in matters of public policy — is in danger. There are a lot of people and groups that want us to shut up and go away. But I can promise you, The Family Foundation is not going away.

We have been here for a quarter of a century and we will be here for another quarter century with your continued help and activism. We are going to continue to fight for values-centered public policy — laws based on our values — regardless of our opponents. We are going to continue to fight for lower taxes, less government, education freedom, strong marriages and, yes, for the unborn, even when it's uncomfortable for the political class.

It isn't our job to make politicians comfortable. It's our job to hold them accountable.

McDonnell's First 100 Days: The View From The Family Foundation

The Washington Post ran a recent Sunday edition story that suggested a chasm has developed between Governor Bob McDonnell and social conservatives. According to the article, some have become disheartened and feel the governor has let them down while others are more willing to be patient and give the governor time. So, what does The Family Foundation think of the governor's first 100 plus days? Understanding the context of events is always key to accurate analysis. So let’s remember that for the past eight years social conservatives in Virginia have been isolated from the governor's office. Both previous governors were at times openly hostile to traditional values issues. Governor Mark Warner gave $25,000 to the Commonwealth Coalition, the organization that opposed the Marriage Amendment, and regularly opposed our agenda (hear in his own words what he thinks of Christian conservatives). Governor Tim Kaine openly campaigned against the Marriage Amendment and also opposed much of our agenda (though he did work with us on several marriage initiatives). Add to that the fact that in November 2008 Virginians voted for Barack Obama for president, and political pundits (as usual) proclaimed social conservatism dead. Any candidate who wanted to win had to disavow  caring about the unborn and marriage and stick to one thing and one thing only — money (well, the economy).

Enter Bob McDonnell. A long time friend of social conservatives and leader on many of our issues, values voters were energized by a candidate they could call "one of us." While campaigning, candidate McDonnell steered clear of social issues unless asked, focusing on exactly what the "experts" said he had to focus on — the economy. Some social conservatives expressed frustration that McDonnell wasn't more vocal on abortion and other social conservative causes, but many understood that the political climate was such that the majority of voters were most concerned about their personal well-being with an economy in recession and a federal government spending us into oblivion.

On Election Day, social conservatives voted for McDonnell in droves. Exit polling showed that nearly half of McDonnell's voters were self-identified evangelicals. Clearly, they believed that Bob McDonnell was going to be their guy in the Governor's Mansion. As with any constituency, those votes did not come without expectations, and they were high expectations at that.

Once sworn in, he went to work on his campaign promise to bring Virginians a balanced budget without higher taxes, and job development. Most agree that the governor has largely fulfilled those promises — though some are concerned with increased fees in the budget. During his administration's first General Assembly session the governor was relatively quiet on social issues, though his administration did vocally support abortion center safety legislation in the Senate Education and Health Committee. He also renewed an executive order concerning non-discrimination in state hiring practices, but did not include "sexual orientation" as had been done by the two previous governors (though Governor Warner did it in the last month of his administration).

Of course, things didn't go perfectly for the new administration. Social conservatives were particularly disappointed that he chose to issue an "executive directive" concerning hiring practices that included "sexual orientation," and we explained those concerns to him both publically and privately. He did, however, sign the Health Care Freedom Act, the first legislation of its kind in the nation that hopefully will protect Virginians from being forced by the federal government to purchase health insurance. He also protected Virginians from being forced to pay for low-income elective abortions (a major pro-life victory) and ensured that Planned Parenthood can't use the money they make off of their new license plate to perform abortions.

Now, we are just passed the first four months of his four-year term, and some conservatives are expressing disappointment, even outrage, with the governor's actions thus far. Interestingly, I was interviewed for the Post article long before its publication date, and at the time, we were encouraging the governor's office to take a more pro-active approach on social conservative issues. In particular, the discussion surrounded the pro-life budget amendments the governor chose not to introduce — defunding Planned Parenthood and failed embryonic stem cell research. On that issue I said to the Post:

We want him to do more, and we will continue to ask him.

I stand by those words. Once something is in the budget it is difficult to remove it. While we trust that Planned Parenthood will not receive any taxpayer money during this administration, we continue to believe that adding such language to the state budget will protect taxpayers in future years.

But remember the context of my Post interview:

In between my interview with the Post and the article's publication — several days — the governor fulfilled an extremely important campaign promise and reversed the Kaine administration's discriminatory prohibition on prayers offered by state police chaplains. In a press release I said we were "thrilled" with the governor's action, and we are. This was an important and courageous action and Virginians are better off for it. We also asked you to contact Governor McDonnell and thank him as well.

So, how is the governor doing? (Honestly, I think social conservatives need to take a deep breath, and remember that there are still three years and seven months left in this administration. We have to remember the victories he has delivered, while knowing that there is still a lot to be accomplished. But we are confident that the governor understands the concerns we have. There are pressing issues facing our commonwealth and the governor needs to address those issues. At the same time, the culture of Virginia must also be a priority for this administration. We will continue to encourage him to take the lead on family issues that are the foundation to the very economy he is trying to fix (see more of my comments in another article on this topic in the Richmond Times-Dispatch).

The Family Foundation is determined to be strategic in our efforts. We understand the political climate is hostile and we have to accept that incremental victories are victories nonetheless. Those who demand "all or nothing" tend to receive nothing. We are encouraged by the recent actions of Governor McDonnell and continue to believe he will fulfill his campaign promises.

General Assembly Liberals Continue To Rail Against AG Cuccinelli's Legal Opinion

The House remains in session as of this post, but earlier liberal Delegates Joe Morrissey (D-74, Henrico) and David Englin (D-45, Alexandria) railed against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's recently issued opinion that states the obvious — Virginia law does not single out homosexuals as a protected class and, therefore, its colleges and universities cannot offer anti-discriminatory policies for their protection. But why is their vitriol aimed at the AG? He's only quoting Virginia law as it reads. Delegate Adam Ebbin (D-49, Arlington), though not as vociferous as his colleagues, referenced ridicule on last night's Daily Show, as if a flippant cable comedy show is of the heft to dictate Virginia policy. Delegates Morrissey and Englin, however, struck a refrain that is the last resort of liberals-who-all-of-a-sudden-care-about-big-business: Virginia will lose corporate headquarters if this is allowed to stand!

Let's see: Unemployment is at record levels (despite a $787 billion "stimulus" program by the nation's smartest-ever-president), resulting in a lack of demand for products by consumers; we have massive, almost incomprehensible, third-world-like debt; unimaginable budget deficits projected for years; a lack of lending by banks; and, with so much liquidity in the system, the very real possibility that hyper inflation will ignite — somehow, we don't think Fortune 500 firms are arguing over Virginia's campus social policies. Furthermore, the delegates defeated their own arguments, citing that many of these companies have established their own policies regarding homosexuals. So why, then, would corporations be concerned about a policy concerning Virginia's public colleges? They are not. The opinion has nothing to do with corporations.

Furthermore, if these delegates are so concerned about creating jobs and attracting corporations to Virginia, perhaps they should take real job creating action and start cutting corporate taxes, stop raising taxes on individuals and families, and cut state spending and balance our budget. But the most perplexing aspect of the entire debate is that we've heard nothing over the last 10 years in Virginia but that "social issues" aren't important. Oh, really? To some, apparently, they are, and it's very convenient for liberals, who don't dare campaign on creating special protected classes of citizens, to criticize the attorney general simply for stating Virginia law while contriving "economic development concerns" in doing so.

Dr. Bob Holsworth Interview, Part 1

Below is the first part of a two part interview with nationally known political scientist Dr. Bob Holsworth, a regular commentator on Virginia and national politics. His articles and commentary can be read in publications and on the Internet, and heard on television and radio. He is a frequent speaker to numerous organizations, heads a consultancy, and is the editor of the widely read blog, Virginia Tomorrow. Today, we talk about the current session of the General Assembly and touch on national politics. FamilyFoundationBlog.com: Dr. Holsworth, it's a great honor to have you answer some questions on our blog about the General Assembly and Virginia politics in general. So, thank you very much for participating in this interview. We greatly appreciate your valuable time and look forward to your insights and are big fans of your blog, Virginia Tomorrow. Are you ready for some questions?

Dr. Bob Holsworth: Thanks very much for the opportunity to be on your site.

FamilyFoundationBlog: Has anything surprised you about this session of the General Assembly? Has the Republican sweep and increased House of Delegates majority created a visible difference or is it too early to tell (i.e., waiting for the budget)?

Dr. Holsworth: Certainly, the Republican sweep in the House has made it even easier for the GOP to control the legislative outcomes in that chamber. But the Democratic control of the Senate can still pose substantial hurdles for the Governor and the House GOP. I was surprised that five Democrats in the Senate supported the Health Care Freedom legislation, symbolically repudiating former Governor Kaine and President Obama. All of these Democrats are in districts where the GOP could field competitive challengers and this tells you just how concerned Democrats have become about the impact of the national mood here in Virginia. At the same time, Senate Dems have summarily dismissed part of the McDonnell agenda such as dedicating royalties for off-shore drilling to transportation and changing the budget cycle. What will happen with the overall budget is still up in the air as Senate Dems actually disagree if they should present a budget that includes some of the tax increases in (former) Governor Kaine's recommended document or acknowledge the political reality that there will be no major tax increases and present a budget accordingly, even if it inconsistent with what they would really want to propose.

FamilyFoundationBlog: Governor Bob McDonnell ran on a jobs-creation platform and de-emphasized social issues. But social issues do play a role in the budget. Do you think he will go so far as to de-fund Planned Parenthood?

Dr. Holsworth: I think that you have phrased the question well. Some folks have said that McDonnell ran as a "moderate." My sense is that he ran as an economic conservative and gave less priority in the campaign to his social conservatism. I fully expect that McDonnell will sign almost all bills with a "social conservative" orientation that emerge from the legislative process. What's not entirely clear is how far his own proposals will move in this direction. He obviously made a symbolic change when he removed sexual orientation from the non-discrimination executive order with respect to state government workers. The question of whether he'll propose a budget amendment to de-fund panned parenthood will be seen by many of his supporters as a test of whether he will implement the values of social conservatism in the budget. If he does, there will be a substantial fight in the Senate and the media will surely portray it as a switch from the "moderation" of the campaign. If he doesn't, he'll disappoint a segment of his core supporters.

FamilyFoundationBlog: If Governor McDonnell proposes a host of "fees" instead of taxes to close the budget gap, how will that affect his support on the right? creation

Dr. Holsworth: If McDonnell is perceived as simply playing semantics with taxes, it will harm him not only with the right, but with many independents as well. He was very clear during the election about his belief that revenue increases should primarily come from economic growth and I would be very surprised if he has a post-election conversion to a different point of view, especially in this political environment.

FamilyFoundationBlog: Governor McDonnell is getting a lot of positive attention right now — giving the GOP response to the State of the Union, doing several national interviews, even one for Newt Gingrich's newsletter. Does he runs the risk of raising his own expectations?

Dr. Holsworth: I think of the smartest moves the new Governor made was to cancel his national interviews the day after his SOTU response. Virginians have made it clear that his first priority as Governor should be the Commonwealth and, in the long run, McDonnell's national stature will be most enhanced by having a strong approval rating in-state.

FamilyFoundationBlog: What chances do you give of real reforms this or next year in areas of budgeting and in recalculating SOQ spending?

Dr. Holsworth: The Senate has already rejected a key McDonnell proposal on changing the two year budget cycle. Recalculating SOQ spending has been an issue that many House Republicans have pointed to over the last few years as a reform necessary to rein in future budget increases. We've seen some willingness from both parties to look at items such as staffing ratios regarding non-instructional personnel. If there ever would be a time where the entire SOQ calculation would be readjusted, it would be in the kind of fiscal environment we have now. But polls show that schools remain extremely high on the public's priority list. In aggregate, school groups (teachers, superintendents, school boards, and principals) are extraordinarily well organized and very politically effective. Moreover, Virginia schools overall seem to perform extremely well — just this week, we ranked third in the nation in AP testing. I believe that the effort for major permanent structural changes in school funding will have substantial hurdles to overcome.

FamilyFoundationBlog: What are your thoughts on former Governor Doug Wilder calling for Tim Kaine's removal as Democrat National Committee chairman?

Dr. Holsworth: Former Governor Wilder noted that he had supported Tim Kaine for Vice-President, but did not feel that the DNC Chair was the best fit for his talents and skills. My guess is that there are a number of Democratic activists who are more comfortable with the sharp edges of a Howard Dean than the more cerebral approach to the position of Tim Kaine. The proof, of course, will be in the November pudding. Kaine will succeed if Democrats do far better than expected. But if November is a Democratic debacle, Kaine will be fingered for part of the blame.

Be sure to check back with us tomorrow afternoon for part two of our interview with Dr. Bob Holsworth as we look at next year's Congressional elections in Virginia, Senator Jim Webb's prospects in 2012, and the Tea Party movement.

Jim Gilmore To Lead Free Congress Foundation: Not the Breaking News People Thought, But Good Nonethesame

This is an interesting tidbit: Former Governor Jim Gilmore announced Monday that he had been elected the new president and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation, the influential conservative think tank founded by the legendary conservative leader, strategist and grassroots activist Paul Weyrich (see New York Times), who died last December. Weyrich was one of the architects of the conservative renaissance that eventually brought about the Reagan and Gingrich Revolutions. When the announcement hit my inbox, I was eager to post it. This is big news — a Virginian taking the lead at a conservative hallmark, in the shoes of a true legend (Washington Times). But in his letter, the former governor included a link to a December 10 column by John Gizzi of Human Events in which he explains why he is taking the position and his goals, etc. That was more than two weeks prior to Monday's e-mailed letter. Figuring it was old news, I ignored it. Yet, the announcement still exploded in the media, new and mainstream. There's articles everywhere. Interesting how news can still trail real time, no matter how electronic and digital we become. It just goes to show that good reporting still beats all.

So, we join in the congratulations to former Governor Gilmore in his new position. He is a good, hard working, earnest man. He will have a national platform and a well schooled staff to put forth and advance conservative ideas and solutions to problems America faces in the economy, foreign policy and cultural and social issues, of which Weyrich was a determined traditionalist. In the age of Obama, there can be no shortage of limited government conservatives working in the vineyard.

Pew Poll Confirms Tide Has Turned In Abortion Debate

In late August, Democrat gubernatorial hopeful Creigh Deeds took what most political analysts said was a gamble when he began hammering Republican Bob McDonnell on the issue of abortion — and in contradiction of his pledge to leave social issues out of the campaign. Many thought Deeds' lackluster campaign was looking for an issue that would motivate his base, but at the risk of alienating independent voters. Thursday, the Pew Research Center for People & the Press released a national survey (see Pew) that might indicate the Deeds move was the wrong one. Said Pew:

Recently, Americans have become more opposed to legal abortion.

In fact, the division between those who believe abortion should be illegal in almost all cases is nearly even with those who believe it should be legal in most cases, a significant shift. Plus, the number of those who think abortion should be more difficult to obtain also increased (see U.S. News & World Report).

But what should worry Deeds the most is that liberal Democrats polled have lost an extraordinary amount of intensity on the issue. According to Pew:

There has been a 26-point drop since 2006 in the proportion of liberal Democrats who say abortion is a critical issue, from 34 percent to 8 percent.

Ooops! So much for energizing the base.

As with any abortion poll, the news is mixed, but it discloses many positive trends. For example, it indicates an important shift in public opinion away from abortion on demand. It confirms a Gallup poll from May (see Gallup) that shows more Americans consider themselves pro-life than "pro-choice" for the first time in that poll's history.

So, we are winning this issue on a daily basis by changing hearts and minds. It is nearly impossible to look at the beauty shown by an ultrasound and not recognize the humanity that exists. Any woman who has heard the heartbeat of her unborn child for the first time and then sees the image of that child inside her is drawn naturally to the conclusion that it is a human life worth defending.

More and more people are drawn to that defense, too. Virginians and Americans are joining together for the next several weeks for 40 Days for Life. We urge you to join with them (see how, here) in praying for more hearts and minds to change. Also, call your local pregnancy resource center and lend a hand. Reach out to a woman in crisis and provide for her needs. Together, through prayer and action, and through God’s blessing, we will one day live in a nation that respects all human life — born and unborn.

DNC To Pull Plug (And $5 Million) From Deeds?

RedState.com's Moe Lane blogged early this morning that the Democrat National Committee — the organization headed by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine — is going to hold back $5 million from its gubernatorial candidate, Senator Creigh Deeds (see here). Lane based his post on reporting from Jim Geraghty at the campaign spot blog at National Review Online (see here). Geraghty, in turn, took his info from a report in The Augusta Free Press ("The Valley's Progressive News Source") where Chris Graham writes:

The bad poll news comes on the heels of a story circulating in Democratic circles today that the Democratic National Committee is reportedly holding on to its $5 million financial commitment to the Deeds campaign out of concern that the Deeds campaign has focused too much of its attention on the controversial Bob McDonnell 1989 grad-school thesis setting out a hardline social-conservative political agenda for his budding political career and not enough on putting down a framework for what a Deeds administration would do for Virginia.

If true, the irony rivals fantasy — pulling the plug for his obsessive negative ads and hammering Republican Bob McDonnell on "divisive social issues." Looks like it's only dividing the senator from his campaign lifeline. But then again, maybe it's because the DNC saw this and this.

New Public Policy Polling Poll Shows McDonnell Still Leading

Public Policy Polling, a Democrat polling organization, released a new poll this morning (see its news release here) that shows Republican Bob McDonnell maintaining a lead over Democrat Creigh Deeds in Virginia's governor's race by a 48-43 margin. This is smaller than previous polls. However, given the leftward slant of the organization, and the relentless attacks by Deeds on McDonnell for the last three weeks, it appears to be good news for the Republican. See Bruce Drake at his PoliticsDaily.com Poll Watch Blog here for insight on the internal numbers, while the Richmond Times-Dispatch mentions methodology here. Republican consultant Peter Foster looked at the poll's internals and offered us this analysis of how the numbers must play out for each candidate:

The good news is that McDonnell continues to lead by five points heading into the final month. While this is closer than they (PPP) had the race two months ago, that appears to be entirely the result of Democrats waking up and realizing there's an election going on. McDonnell still leads among independents by a margin of 53-37 percent, and he's getting 96 percent of the Republican vote. Deeds is getting 82 percent of the Democrat vote. One potential issue with these poll numbers is that they probably oversampled Democrats overall, as their respondents are 37 percent Democrat, only 29 percent Republican, and 34 percent self-identified independent. I seriously doubt that that will be an accurate reflection of the Election Day turnout, but, for argument's sake, let's play with those numbers.

The reason to expect the race to continue to get closer is that of the nine percent who are undecided, 53 percent are Democrats, while only seven percent are Republicans. The other 40 percent are independents. Currently, McDonnell is getting 98 percent of the Republicans who have made up their minds and 59 percent of independents who have made up their minds, and Creigh Deeds is getting 94 percent of Democrats who have made up their minds. If you follow that formula and give McDonnell 98 percent of the Republican undecideds and 59 percent of the independent undecideds, and give Deeds 94 percent of the Democratic undecideds, then this adds up to a very close race on Election Day, with McDonnell winning with 51.03 percent of the vote.

The bottom line is that McDonnell is in the stronger position headed into the final month, but it's going to be a very close race, and, regardless of what the turnout percentages end up being in terms of Republican, Democrat and independent, if McDonnell maintains his levels of support among Republicans and among independents, he'll win in a close race.

Once last thing to consider are two factors are not fully measured by the polls. One is the lower turnout among specific, traditional Democrat voting blocs, such as black voters, which surely will be affected by former governor, and fellow Democrat, Doug Wilder's refusal to endorse Deeds, as well as some liberal base groups who are turned off by his flip-flops over the years on social issues. The second is under reported story — the registration of thousands of new conservative voters by several organizations, such as pro-life, Second Amendment and Tea Party groups.