The Other McCain

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Gillespie Defeated in Virginia as Huge Democrat Turnout Devastates GOP

Posted on | November 8, 2017 | 1 Comment

Ed Gillespie got more votes (1.18 million) yesterday than any Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia history, but Democrats produced a “tsunami” turnout that elected Ralph Northam and wiped out GOP candidates in down-ticket races. The trend was nationwide:

Democrats roared back on Tuesday a year after suffering perhaps the most demoralizing defeat in modern political history, claiming big victories in races up and down the ballot and across the country.
The breadth of the Democratic wins surprised even the most optimistic party stalwarts, who fretted over their own chances in key races Tuesday. But as the results rolled in, those Democrats said they had energized their core voters and capitalized on President Trump’s unpopularity to reach swing voters.
“This is not a wave. This is a tsunami,” Virginia Del. David Toscano, leader of the Democratic caucus, told The Hill in an interview Tuesday night. “This is a huge, huge sea change here in Virginia.”
Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) won the Virginia governorship by a wider-than-expected margin, even with Democrats fretting about his late campaign strategy. Democrat Justin Fairfax won the lieutenant governor’s office, becoming only the second African American to win a statewide post in Virginia since Reconstruction, while Attorney General Mark Herring (D) won re-election.
In New Jersey, former Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy (D) easily won the right to replace deeply unpopular Gov. Chris Christie (R), cementing Democratic control in the Garden State.
In Washington, Democrat Manka Dhingra (D) appeared headed for victory in a special election to fill an open state Senate seat. Dhingra’s win, in a formerly Republican district, would give Democrats control of all levers of government in the Evergreen State.
Democrats won at least 14 seats in Virginia’s House of Delegates, with another three likely headed to a recount. They picked up at least two seats in New Jersey’s state Senate, with several Senate and Assembly districts yet to count ballots, and a seat in New Hampshire’s state House.
Georgia Democrats celebrated winning two deep red districts in special state House elections. Two Democrats appear likely to face off in a runoff in a suburban Atlanta state Senate district formerly held by a Republican after finishing first and second in the all-party primary — a result that would break the GOP’s supermajority.

Off-year elections typically go against the party of a newly-elected president, and Republicans tempted to over-interpret these results as an omen of  impending doom should calm down and be quiet. What happened Tuesday was not unprecedented; indeed, it was probably predictable. I’m certain that many Republicans will want to blame all these losses on Trump, and Trump supporters will deny this. But blame is not a strategy. If Republicans want to avoid a wipeout in next year’s mid-term elections, they will have to find a way to use the presidency as an electoral asset, no matter how much they may disdain Trump personally.

 

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