GOP Wipeout: Ralph Northam Rides Massive Blue Wave In Virginia

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Nov 07, 2017 11:00 PM
GOP Wipeout: Ralph Northam Rides Massive Blue Wave In Virginia

Well, the Virginia elections are over—and Democrats delivered punishment to Republicans. Guy will have a deep-dive on this race later, but here's a very brief roundup with the final results. Democrat Ralph Northam decisively trounced Republican Ed Gillespie 53/45. The Democratic turnout was overwhelming, and that paved way for a blue wave that crashed into the GOP down ticket. Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Justin Fairfax beat Republican Jill Vogel 52/47. Incumbent Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring beat Republican John Adams for another term 53/46. The Democrats are also now on the verge of retaking the House of Delegates, gaining 13 seats in the lower chamber; the GOP held a 66-seat supermajority going into this contest. The lower chamber now leans Democratic, with a 47-46 split. It’s way too early to call who will control the chamber, but David Wasserman of The Cook Political Report wrote on FiveThirtyEight that it's likely the Democrats clinch it:

If I had to put a bet on it, I’d bet Democrats will ultimately win control of Virginia’s House of Delegates. They’ve captured 47 seats, and they’re ahead in four more races, pending absentee and provisional ballots. So far, absentee ballots have broken more Democratic than the Election Day vote, so that’s no comfort to Republicans. But the bottom line is, we probably won’t be able to call control tonight.

It’s not that Gillespie and the Republicans did badly with white rural Virginians. They did—but they got murdered in the suburbs as Nate Cohn noted. University of Virginia's Larry Sabato warned against the narrative about "changing demographics," noting that this was more of a response against Trump. In the end, the Democrats were able to mobilize—big league (via WaPo):

Northam’s victory was propelled by white, college-educated women; voters who are concerned about health care; a robust showing among Democrats; and voters who strongly disapprove of Trump, exit polls indicated.

Though overall returns were incomplete, Northam’s strength showed in a few bellwether counties.

With 95 of 96 precincts reporting in the D.C. suburb of Loudoun County, Northam had a nearly 20-point advantage. In 2013, Democrat Terry McAuliffe won Loudoun by only about four points on his way to a narrow gubernatorial victory.

Similarly, the key Richmond suburb of Chesterfield County, long a Republican stronghold, was showing a one-point edge for Gillespie with 75 of 76 precincts reporting. In 2013, Republican Ken Cuccinelli took the county by nearly eight points in his losing bid against McAuliffe.

Recent statewide polls had shown the race for governor to be neck and neck, but the outcome hinged on two unpredictable factors: turnout and Trump.

Folks, you win some and you lose some; that’s the nature of our elections. So, let’s move on, try and understand what went right and wrong, and prepare for the next battle. We don’t whine. We don’t set things on fire. We don’t riot in the streets like the Left. We regroup, and that what needs to happen. Democrats, you guys had a good night. I mean a really good night. Keep drinking that champagne. You deserve it. This was a contest in which conservatives were beaten badly. Let’s rest up (briefly) and get back to work. This political game is far from over. Again, Guy will go deeper into what happened tomorrow.

I’ll close with this, it doesn’t seem that many were expecting Northam to lead a Democratic wave in Virginia. Alas, politics offers its fair share of surprises, though some things appear to be constant, like the commonwealth’s urban/rural divide:

Northam has led Democrats to a sweep tonight, including possibly picking up the House of Delegates. But in a sign of just how gigantic the urban/rural divide has become, he appears to have lost Virginia’s rural Eastern Shore, his one-time political base.

Wasserman was charting the GOP Walloping last night. Here’s some of the butcher’s bill in the House of Delegates race: