First, we have learned, once again, that polls are inaccurate. The most recent polls in Virginia showed Ed Gillespie beating Corey Stewart handily, often by more than 20 points, with about 30% undecided. The reality was Gillespie won by a mere 1.57%. On the Democrat side, all the polls showed Tom Perriello and Ralph Northam running neck and neck, within a few points of each other. Ralph Northam won by 11.82% of the vote.
Northam’s big win tells us outside endorsements, like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, don’t impress Virginia Democrat voters. Northam’s support from Virginia Democrats mattered more. He was supported by Governor McAuliffe and every Democrat elected official in Richmond.
Corey Stewart’s constant criticism of Ed Gillespie worked. Stewart claimed on radio and television Gillespie supports late term abortions. Nothing could be further from the truth. Gillespie was endorsed by national pro-life groups. He has always been pro-life but voters wouldn’t know that because Gillespie never responded to Corey’s bombardment of lies about him. Stewart is still claiming Gillespie wants to tear down Confederate monuments. That’s not true either, the Governor has no ability to do that. It’s a state law that monuments to veterans cannot be torn down, including veterans of the Civil War. Gillespie never refuted Stewart’s accusations. Gillespie ended the race with $2 million in campaign funds. He should have spent that money refuting Stewart. He would be in a better position now for November.
Strangely, Northam did well in the more liberal areas of the state, NOVA to Tidewater, and the more liberal Perriello did better in the rural areas which are traditionally the more conservative parts of the state. Maps from WTOP.com
Republican votes were about as we would expect, the more moderate Gillespie did better in NOVA and other populated parts of the state while Corey Stewart did better in more rural areas:
Another factor in the primary races was money. Gillespie spent over $2 million, Stewart $803,611, and Wagner $585,179. On the Democrat side, Northam spent over $5 million and Perriello spent over $3 million.
Democrats know how to get out the vote and they are fired up. Trump is playing a big part in their enthusiasm. Their turnout this year was 170% over their last primary. This year 532,433 Democrats voted compared to 315,747 Republicans. Low Republican turnout helped Stewart, making it such a close election. Republicans need to fire up their base, recruit new members to the party, and get out the vote, for their party to have a hope of winning in November. See more on turnout and its effects here.
Finally, Democrats seem to be uniting with little muss or fuss. Republicans, not so much. Fortunately, Ed Gillespie is just the man to bring everyone together. On to November!