Democrats Jittery Over Virginia

“The Democratic National Committee gathered here over the past week with one worry on every activist’s mind: We’d better not lose the Virginia governor’s race,” the Washington Post reports.

“It’s a surprising case of the jitters over a place that hasn’t elected a Republican to statewide office in eight years — and that voted resoundingly against Donald Trump last year. But nationally, Democrats haven’t won a marquee race since losing the presidency. They lag Republicans in fundraising. A loss for Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam against Republican Ed Gillespie on Nov. 7 could stir doubts about message and strategy just as the party is gearing up nationally for next year’s all-important midterm elections.”

Virginia Polling Swings Are Normal

FiveThirtyEight: “The October average of Virginia gubernatorial surveys has Northam leading Gillespie by 7 percentage points, 50% to 43%.”

“With an average Northam lead of about 7 points, sampling error alone1 suggests that some polls should find Gillespie up by a little and some polls should find Northam with double-digit advantages. That’s exactly what we’re getting.”

“The results we’re getting in Virginia are totally normal and fine, and people shouldn’t be demanding that every poll show the exact same thing.”

Democrats Have Nearly Every Advantage In Virginia

First Read lists five reasons why Democrats have a big edge in Virginia’s gubernatorial race:

  1. Trump: The current president’s job-approval rating in the state is in the 30s, and remember that Trump lost this state to Hillary Clinton by 5 points on his best day of the general election.
  2. History: With just one exception (in 2013 when Terry McAuliffe defeated Ken Cuccinelli), the party that controls the White House has lost every gubernatorial election in Virginia going back to the 1970s.
  3. GOP’s poor performance in Virginia: Since 2005, Democrats are 9-1 in major statewide elections in Virginia (for president, Senate, governor).
  4. Cash: Northam is outraising Republican opponent Ed Gillespie, which is stunning given Gillespie’s background as a former RNC chair and lobbyist.
  5. The advertising war: And Northam is also outspending Gillespie on the TV airwaves, while party spending is about even (see below for more on that).

But they note Gillespie does have one important advantage in this race: Democrats in Virginia don’t turn out as well in non-presidential years.

Gillespie Strategist Quits Campaign

“The man who rallied Southwest Virginia to vote for Donald Trump last year quit Republican Ed Gillespie’s gubernatorial campaign this week, offended by a personal snub and exasperated by the campaign’s highly cautious stance toward the president,” the Washington Post reports.

“Jack Morgan’s departure follows a half-empty Gillespie rally headlined by Vice President Pence on Saturday in Southwest Virginia, a coal country region that voted overwhelmingly for Trump in November.”

Northam Up Big In New Virginia Poll

A new Quinnipiac poll in Virginia finds Ralph Northam (D) with a large lead over Ed Gillespie (R) in the race for governor, 53% to 39%.

Said pollster Peter Brown: “One number says it all. Northam’s 14-point lead among independent voters is all you need to know about the race to be Virginia’s next governor. The two major-party candidates do about the same among their respective party bases, but a candidate who carries independent voters by double-digits is almost always a winner.”

A new Fox News poll shows Northam leading by seven points, 49% to 42%.

Race for Virginia Governor Deadlocked

A new Monmouth poll in Virginia finds Ed Gillespie (R) just ahead of Ralph Northam (D) in the race for governor, 48% to 47%.

Said pollster Patrick Murray: “This has never been more than a five point race in Monmouth’s polling, and that means either candidate has a very real shot at winning this thing. We have seen lots of little movement that has either helped or hurt each candidate but with neither one being able to break out.”