Takeaways for Manufacturers from Last Night’s Virginia Elections

By November 8, 2017Shopfloor Main

For many Americans, yesterday was an election day, and today, we’re all trying to put the results in larger perspective as cable news commentators are quick to make sweeping conclusions. Democrats’ victories in New Jersey didn’t come as a surprise, but the races in Virginia were much more closely watched.

So, I wanted to share some takeaways for manufacturers that aren’t as widely reported.

First, the trend of Democratic voters turning out in far greater numbers than Republicans for statewide elections in Virginia continued. This trend needs to be understood before drawing too many national implications.

Second, races in Virginia were defined largely by many Virginia-specific social and cultural issues. That is to say, it was less driven by national economic issues or trends, which polarized the respective party bases.

Third, the message to elected leaders currently in Congress ahead of the 2018 races is this: get things done. While manufacturers have an optimistic economic outlook, there’s clearly frustration among voters, and the best way to prove you are worthy of their support is to deliver on big legislation that accelerates economic growth, creates jobs and moves this country forward. Tax reform is the prime example.

Fourth, the divisiveness of partisan politics in the Virginia race and many other key contests since the 2016 election may turn off some good candidates for office in 2018 or other upcoming elections. As voters become more frustrated with what’s seen as “process” and “business as usual” from Washington, it allows voices from the extremes to dominate. The business community and manufacturing voters can’t let that happen. We must rally around the candidates who demonstrate a clear commitment to advancing policies that will grow our economy, create jobs and lift everyone up while leaving no one behind.

Finally, candidates looking for a winning message should campaign on the four pillars that NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons has long championed: free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity. Candidates who embrace these principles can appeal across partisan lines, offer a unifying message and stand the best chance for election.

Keith Smith

Keith Smith

Senior Vice President at National Association of Manufacturers
Keith Smith serves as senior vice president of public affairs and mobilization at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). He helps lead the association’s issue advocacy campaigns as well as the NAM’s national grassroots advocacy network.
Keith Smith

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