All across the state Democrats turned out in record numbers to register their anger and outrage at the President. The result of the Governor’s race was not exactly a surprise. For the last 48 years Virginia has elected a Governor that is the opposite party of the President. The only exception was in 2013 (thanks, Bill Bolling).
What WAS shocking, however, was just how complete and utterly devastating the Republican party’s electoral collapse was. November 7th, 2017 will go down in the Virginia history books as one of the worst electoral beatings the Republican party has ever seen. Not only did we get swept in the three statewide races, but we have almost certainly lost control of the House of Delegates, a disaster thought unthinkable on Tuesday morning. As I write this, Democrats have defeated 16 Republican incumbents, with three races decided by less than 100 votes and clearly heading to recounts. It seems the best we will be able to do is force a 50/50 split in the House and come up with some sort of power sharing arrangement. The Democrats have not had a night like this since 1899.
Before all the ruined political careers had hit the floor, the spinning of the results had begun. Ed Gillespie was too establishment. Ed didn’t embrace Trump enough. Even the President tweeted out that if Gillespie had simply “bent the knee” and embraced full Trumpian status he would have sailed to victory.
Other people are blaming the inaction of Congress as a reason that Ed lost, and that the base didn’t vote for him. The RPV spin is all about “changing demographics” and “out-of-state money,” (as if we didn’t have millions of dollars pouring into the state 2 years ago when we won 66 seats in the House and held the Senate).
All of this is hogwash.
This election was a statement about one thing, and one thing only. It wasn’t about Ed Gillespie, and it wasn’t about Ralph Northam, It was about Donald Trump. All of the post election whining about the base not supporting Gillespie because he wasn’t “Trumpian” enough is total crap. The attempts to blame the Congress and their inaction as the reason Ed lost is also way off the mark. These excuses would mean that the base was so fed up with Republicans and their failures, or Ed’s establishment leanings, that they stayed home and didn’t vote. But that’s not what happened.
The base didn’t stay home. In fact, the base showed up in greater numbers for Gillespie than they did for Conservative stalwart, Ken Cuccinelli four years ago. If Ken had received the same number of votes Ed did last night, Ken would have been Governor.
Gillespie even topped Bob McDonnell’s vote count in 2009, when Bob won the Governor’s race with 58% of the vote. So don’t try to claim this race was lost because the base was punishing Ed for not embracing Trump.
Ed lost because Democrats came out in numbers normally only seen in presidential elections. Ralph Northam got nearly 400,000 more votes than Terry McAuliffe in 2013, and he got them in Democrat heavy areas:
- Alexandria City: Northam got 11,000 more votes than McAuliffe got four years ago:
- Arlington County: 20,000 more votes
- Charlottesville City (epicenter of the “statue debacle”): A nearly 50% increase in Democrat votes, from 9,440 in 2013, to 13,909 in 2017
- Chesapeake City: 8,000 more votes
- Fairfax County: A whopping 76,000 more votes for Northam over McAuliffe!
- Richmond City: 16,000 more votes for the Democrats
You even saw more traditional republican areas with more Democrats coming out to vote:
- Chesterfield County: Won by Ken C. in 2013 saw a spike of almost 50% in Democrat turnout from 42,000 to almost 58,000
- Loudoun County: A close county in 2013, won by Ed in 2014, gave Northam 25,000 more votes than McAuliffe
- Prince William County: 21,000 more votes for Northam
- Virginia Beach City: Won by Cucinelli in 2013, saw a 17,000 vote spike for the Democrats, and Northam carried the City
In every way, Ed Gillespie eclipsed Republican performance across the board, but the Democrats turned out numbers almost approaching Presidential election years. Why?
It wasn’t because Ed ran a poor race. The Republican Governor’s race was about as textbook as you can get.
It wasn’t because Northam was simply an awesome, dynamic, inspiring candidate. Northam did everything he could in the last few weeks to lose this race. From air brushing Justin Fairfax (the only black statewide candidate) out of their canvassing literature, to the “Murder Truck” ad that enraged Republicans, to the flip flop on sanctuary cities that had progressive groups running robocall ads against Northam the day before the election. The Democrats looked more like a collection of misfits than a well-oiled political machine at the end of this race.
No, the only thing that brought out so many Democrats (almost Presidential election numbers) is the man sitting in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who does not know how to lead, doesn’t have a Conservative bone in his body, politicizes every single issue under the sun, and must be the top story of the news on every channel…every day.
Democrats were already going to be fired up for this race because of losing the White House, but Trump’s continuous trolling of all things non-Trump just kept the flames fanned and made sure these people would crawl across a field of broken glass to cast a vote against the Republican party that has been enabling his antics. Because of this, good Conservative Delegates like Bob Marshall, Scott Lingamfelter, Randy Minchew, and others will not be returning to Richmond to fight off Medicaid expansion, or stop the Democrats from pushing legislation forcing public schools to let boys use the girls bathroom.
Barack Obama lost 1,000 down ballot seats for the Democrats during his 8 years as President. Donald Trump saw that number and said, “I can do that in 4.”
Different people can spin this anyway they want, but the simple fact of the matter is that this is 100% on Trump, and if we don’t do something about it now, 2018 is going to be even worse.