Historically Conservative Virginia County Goes Blue

“For the first time since 1961, Chesterfield County backed a Democrat for governor — and the driving forces in this Richmond suburb included women who defiantly trumpeted a political label their party has ducked for decades,” the Washington Post reports.

“Until Gov.-elect Ralph Northam (D) won Chesterfield County three weeks ago, the stretch of suburban and rural communities southwest of Richmond had been considered reliably Republican.”

“Yet voters infuriated by Trump, many of them women and Hispanics who have migrated to the county in recent years, are redefining Chesterfield and alarming Virginia Republicans who have depended on the area to make up for the support the party lacks in urban areas.”

Young Voters Propelled Northam to Victory

Andrew Sullivan: “The under-30s turnout in the Virginia governor’s race in 2009 was 17 percent; in 2013, it was 24 percent; this week it was 34 percent. And as young turnout surged, it became progressively more Democratic. In 2013, the under-30s split 45–40 percent for the Democrats; in 2016, in the presidential race, it was 54–36; last week it was 69–30. The third-party vote among the young also collapsed: from 15 percent in 2013 to one percent last Tuesday.”

“I draw a couple of inferences from this: Trump’s extraordinary success among older voters in 2016 has produced a backlash among younger voters in 2017, who are far less complacent than they were last year and ever-more repulsed by Trump’s racist reactionism. And the younger generation has learned one thing from 2016: Voting for your ideal candidate is less important than voting for the candidate that can effectively halt the advance of the far right. Better late than never, I suppose — and Charlottesville may have helped concentrate their minds.”

For members: Young Voters Will Decide the Future for Democrats

Tactics vs. Environment

First Read: “This feels like the most consequential off-year election we’ve seen since 1993, when Republicans Rudy Giuliani (in New York), Christine Todd Whitman (in New Jersey) and George Allen (in Virginia) all won, foreshadowing what would happen in the 1994 midterms the next year.”

“Every political strategist is watching tonight’s Virginia gubernatorial contest, which likely will come down to this question: What’s the more powerful force — the political environment (which looks rough for President Trump and the GOP) or campaign tactics (like Republican Ed Gillespie’s tough TV ads against Democrat Ralph Northam)?”

“Northam has tried to capitalize on the environment, especially given President Trump’s job rating in the 30s in the state… Gillespie, meanwhile, has run the more aggressive campaign – and he’s had to. Borrowing from the Trump playbook, Gillespie has hit Northam with TV ads on crime, illegal immigration and Virginia’s Civil War monuments. He’s even tied Northam to a child pornographer.”

For members: What to Watch in Virginia and New Jersey

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I’ve known Ed Gillespie for a long time. I’ve liked Ed Gillespie for a very long time… Smart guy, has always been an honorable guy. I’ll speak for myself, I’m embarrassed for him, and I’m ashamed for the Republican Party that he’s turned to Confederate monuments to try to win this thing in the end. I don’t know if it works for him or not.”

— Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe, about the Virginia governor’s race.

Two-Point Race for Virginia Governor

A new Monmouth poll in Virginia finds Ralph Northam (D) up a negligible two points against Ed Gillespie (R), 47% to 45%.

“The current results confirm a trend noted in last month’s poll: the race has become an appeal to each party’s base. The two candidates have solidified support in their regional strongholds leaving the Commonwealth’s central region as the kingmaker. At the same time, voters have soured on the tone the campaign has taken in the last six weeks.”

The RealClearPolitics polling average shows Northam with a three-point lead.

Big Stakes for Democrats In Virginia

NBC News: “Democrats have been here before. They’re ahead in the polls, the Republican Party is divided and President Donald Trump’s flaws have been dominating the political landscape. And we all saw how that turned out for the party in 2016.”

“So as Virginia voters choose their next governor on Tuesday — either Democrat Ralph Northam or Republican Ed Gillespie — the central question has become: Unlike in 2016, can Democrats finally win with those advantages? Or will Republicans once again pull off the upset?”

First Read: “Those are the stakes, especially a year away from the all-important midterm elections in 2018, when control of the U.S. House is up for grabs and when Trump’s presence is sure to play another outsize role.”

Northam Maintains Lead Heading Into Final Day

A new Wason Center poll in Virginia finds Ralph Northam (D) leading Ed Gillespie (R) by six points, 51% to 45%.

Allocating the undecided voters according to their historical pattern in Wason Center surveys of Virginia statewide elections indicates a Northam victory on Election Day, 51.3% to 46.8%.

A new Fox News poll finds Northam leading Gillespie, 48% to 43%.

Northam Has Edge In Virginia

A new New York Times/Siena poll in Virginia finds Ralph Northam (D) edging out Ed Gillespie (R) in the race for governor, 43% to 40%.

Said pollster Don Levy: “This is a classic barnburner election that will have both candidates and campaigns working hard until the polls close Tuesday night. Northam and Gillespie are both strong with their bases: Gillespie has the support of 88% of Republicans while Northam is supported by 89% of Democrats.”

The RealClearPolitics polling average shows Northam ahead by just 1.8%.

Democrats Still Toxic In Rural America

“Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Ralph Northam looked like the perfect candidate to help Democrats regain traction with rural voters after a disastrous 2016, with his Southern drawl, upbringing in the state’s rural Eastern Shore and military background,” Politico reports.

“But despite substantial efforts in the far reaches of the commonwealth increasingly ignored by Democrats, Northam appears to be coming up short of a big improvement, according to his own internal polling.”

“Critics point to Northam’s stances on sanctuary cities and natural gas pipelines as possible reasons for the struggles. But the predominant issue may be that no Democrat, no matter their rural credentials, appeals to rural voters who have been turning away from the party for years — a big warning sign for Democrats hoping to compete in dozens of rural-rooted Senate, House and gubernatorial elections around the country next year.”

A Lot Rides on Virginia

Andrew Sullivan: “If Gillespie wins, or the result is close, it means the Trump-transformed GOP is electorally viable in every swing district in 2018. That it could win in the state where actual white supremacists marched this past summer and when the president is 20 points underwater is a sobering reminder of the actual state of play in our politics. I can only hope it’s a wake-up call to the Dems. In 2017, they are either useless or actively counterproductive in the struggle to resist right-authoritarianism.”

“They have learned nothing from 2016. Their intelligentsia seems determined to ensure that no midwestern whites ever vote for the party again. Their public faces are still Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi. They still believe that something other than electoral politics — the courts, the press, the special counsel — will propel them back to power. They can’t seem to grasp the nettle of left-populism. And they remain obsessed with a Russia scandal that most swing voters don’t give a damn about.”

The Trumpification of Ed Gillespie

New York Times: “A Republican victory in Virginia would demonstrate that the president has not become a liability in off-year elections. In addition, given Gillespie’s post-primary strategic shift to Trumpian themes, a Republican win would serve to demonstrate that the issues of immigration, crime and race continue to win elections, even in a state where Democrats have been thought to have the upper hand.”

“If painting Northam as a friend to violent Salvadoran gangs and pedophiles seems like a stretch, that’s American politics in 2017. We used to think that however grotesque they were, there was still a difference between overt declarations and explicit racial politics on one hand and dog whistles and implicit racial politics on the other. That distinction seems to be fading, if it is not gone altogether. Whether the Gillespie-Trump brand of Republicanism sells to the Virginia electorate this year will tell us a lot about where American politics stand a year after the election of President Trump — and the outcome will also offer tantalizing hints about where we are headed in 2018 and 2020.”