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Race For Virginia Governor Tightens Significantly In Campaign’s Final Hours

Virginia Flag Map

In less than forty-eight hours, voters in Virginia will begin heading to the polls in what are the only competitive statewide races in the country this year. The other statewide race, for Governor of New Jersey, is basically over and done, with polls showing Democratic candidate Phil Murphy with a massive double-digit lead over Republican candidate Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. In Virginia, though, the most recent polling is showing that Republican candidate Ed Gillespie closing the gap with Democratic Party nominee and current Lt. Governor Ralph Northam to the point where the race appears to be a clear toss-up that will ultimately depend on turnout.

First up, there’s a new poll from The New York Times and Sienna College that puts Northam’s lead at just three points, within the poll’s margin of error:

The campaign for Virginia governor has divided voters along demographic lines highly reminiscent of last November’s presidential election, according to a New York Times Upshot/Siena College poll on Sunday, and the Democrat, Ralph Northam, holds a modest three-point lead over the Republican, Ed Gillespie, 43 percent to 40 percent.

It is the latest poll to show a tight race. The election is Tuesday, and the poll was conducted Oct. 29 to Thursday, a period when Mr. Northam made headlines for saying he would sign a bill to ban so-called sanctuary citiesfrom becoming a possibility in Virginia.

The campaign has been dominated by hot-button racial and cultural issues. Sanctuary cities, confederate monuments and the MS-13 gang have all played a prominent role in Mr. Gillespie’s advertisements. Unsurprisingly, these issues have split voters by race and education.

White voters without a college degree backed Mr. Gillespie by a 40-point margin in the poll, 63 percent to 23 percent, while nonwhite voters backed Mr. Northam by a similar margin, 65 to 17. Mr. Northam holds roughly a 10-point lead among college-educated white voters, enough to give him the edge statewide.

But neither Mr. Northam nor Mr. Gillespie appears to be matching Donald J. Trump or Hillary Clinton’s huge margins among their strongest demographic groups.

The poll asked respondents how they voted in last year’s presidential race, and there was a consistent pattern across demographic groups and geography. The governor’s race, although reminiscent of 2016, hasn’t quite polarized voters to the same extent.

White working-class voters said they backed Mr. Trump by a 48-point margin, 67 percent to 19 percent, somewhat wider than Mr. Gillespie’s 40-point edge.

Mr. Northam holds a 26-point lead among voters from Northern Virginia; voters from that area said they backed Mrs. Clinton by 31 points. It’s a pattern up and down the ballot.

The pattern has also been fairly common beyond Virginia this year. In special congressional elections, Republicans have fallen far short of Mr. Trump’s strong showing in white working-class areas, while Democrats have struggled to exceed Mrs. Clinton’s showing in the areas where she excelled, like Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District.

But the Virginia contest seems to have a distinct dynamic. Mr. Gillespie, with establishment roots as a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, has run a campaign plainly intended to rally Mr. Trump’s supporters, making the question of whether he can approach Mr. Trump’s strong tallies somewhat more interesting.

If Mr. Gillespie prevails or runs well ahead of Mr. Trump, it might be interpreted as a sign that establishment Republicans can excel by embracing Mr. Trump’s message. According to this view, they could lure white working-class Trump supporters with his message on race and immigration, while maintaining greater support among well-educated voters with their establishment-friendly credentials and tone.

Even if Mr. Gillespie loses by a small margin, his campaign could be judged a success, given national political conditions and Virginia’s Democratic lean.

A second poll, from a Republican-leaning polling group, has Gillespie up by three points, also within the margin of error:

Republican Ed Gillespie is now narrowly leading the Virginia gubernatorial race by 3 points, according to a new poll, just three days before Tuesday’s election.

The new poll of likely Virginia voters by Republican firm Optimus/Firehouse Strategies over Wednesday and Thursday shows Gillespie leading his Democratic opponent Ralph Northam by 40.4 percent to 37.4 percent. His lead is just outside the poll’s margin of error.

Recent polls have suggested a late-game comeback for Gillespie, who trailed Northam by a small margin for recent months of the race, with a Friday poll showing the two locked in a dead heat at 47 percent apiece.

However, Northam is predicted to win by a 1.5 point margin if voter turnout mirrors 2016 levels, the poll said, citing “volatile” party composition. The poll used a model based on 2013 voter turnout to predict a Gillespie win.

An average of major polls still shows Northam with a slight lead of 1.2 points, which marks a steep decline over recent weeks from averages favoring the Democrat by over 3 points.

The contentious Virginia election has invited the support of national political figures such as former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, each stumping and fundraising for their party’s nominees.

These two polls mirror other recent poll results that show the race between Gillespie and Northam tightening in the past two weeks. For example, a poll from the Republican-leaning Trafalgar Group has Northam leading by one percentage point while the latest Rasmussen poll of the race has the race tied. Similarly, a Gravis poll has Northam leading by five percentage points while a poll from a Republican-leaning group called The Polling Company shows Gillespie up by three points. Rounding out the new polling that has been conducted within the past week, a Roanoke College poll has the race tied and a Suffolk University poll has Northam ahead by four points. Finally, the most recent Washington Post poll has Northam ahead by five points. The one outlier of the group appears to be a Quinnipiac University poll that put Northam’s lead at eleven points, far above any lead of any other recent poll. All of this puts the RealClearPolitics average giving Northam a very narrow 1.9 point lead over Gillespie, well within any conceivable margin of error. This is in marked contrast to the poll numbers from previous points in the race. Back in June shortly after the Republican and Democratic primary seasons ended, the relatively limited polling at the time showed Northam with what seemed like a strong lead over Gillespie. Just a month ago, the RealClearPolitics gave Northam a lead of more than five points over Gillespie, and it was at roughly the same point two weeks ago. As the RCP chart shows, the race has tightened over the subsequent two weeks:

RCP Virginia 110517

The reasons that the race has tightened appear to be multi-faceted and to reflect the fact that, notwithstanding the recent past, Virginia remains very much a battleground state outside of the Presidential context. Additionally, there have been several miscues during the course of the past month by the Northam campaign, especially relating to joint campaign efforts with Justin Fairfax, the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor who happens to be African-American. These miscues have caused Northam’s campaign to be criticized by many minority groups for what appears on the surface to be an effort to not associate the Gubernatorial campaign with Fairfax in advertising and outreach in the more rural parts of the state. Additionally, Gillespie has stayed largely on message regarding taxes and other issues notwithstanding efforts by Democrats to tie him to Donald Trump and to the far-right campaign that was run by his primary opponent, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Prince William County Corey Stewart, who is now a candidate for the GOP nomination to run against Tim Kaine in 2018.

On paper at least, this race should favor Northam winning, even if it turns out to be a narrow win. After going for Republicans in every Presidential election from 1968 to 2004, Virginia returned to the Democratic fold in 2008 and went for the Democratic nominee again in 2012 and in the race last year. Additionally, both of Virginia’s Senate seats are held by Democrats. On the other hand, those Democratic victories were accompanied by Republican victories as well. Just one year after President Obama won the state for the first time, Virginians elected Republican Bob McDonnell Governor. Four years later, Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli nearly defeated current incumbent Governor Terry McAuliffe in an election that was most notable due to the fact that both candidates were viewed negatively by the voters. Additionally, the GOP has held the majority of the seats the state’s Congressional delegation since the 2010 election and when Gillespie ran against the seemingly unbeatable Mark Warner in 2014 he ended up pulling to within 20,000 votes in what turned out to be a nail-biter of an election. Additionally, Republicans have an overwhelming majority in the House of Delegates, the lower chamber of the Virginia legislature, and control the Virginia Senate by a narrow margin. Neither of these things is likely to be affected by the outcome of Tuesday’s election.

Regardless of all of this, the outcome of the elections in Virginia is likely to have a significant impact on the narrative nationwide. If Northam manages to pull out a win, many will interpret it as a repudiation of Trump even though the President has largely stayed out of the race and refrained from campaigning for Gillespie like he has for other Republicans running this year. If Gillespie wins, it’s like to cause many to question the current Democratic strategy, which clearly seems to be largely based on running against Trump, and contribute to the ongoing disputes within the national party between the various factions of the party about what direction the party should take in 2018 and beyond. In reality, the election is likely to be more about local and state issues than it is national ones, and the outcome will depend in no small part on voter turnout in places such as Northern Virginia and the Tidewater region, which have become increasingly Democratic or at least independent, as opposed to the more Republican rural parts of the state where Gillespie is likely to pile up a substantial majority of the votes. Because of this, it’s likely to be well into the night before we know who won, especially since the results from the key counties in Northern Virginia tend to come in later than those from the rural parts of the state. Either way, we should know the outcome by Wednesday morning.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mikey says:

    I’m at the point where I don’t much care who wins as long as the ads stop.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  2. Hal_10000 says:

    At what point do we admit that the Democrat Party is bad at politics? They’re up against one of the most toxic personalities in American history and they still can’t win anything and are now barely holding onto things they already have. You haven’t blogged on it, but there’s a spat going on between Clinton and Brazile. Regardless of where the truth lies, the Dems need to can *both* of them. And Pelosi. And Schumer. And anybody else in charge of the Democratic Party. The GOP would not put up with this kind of losing. Even Gingrich, who brought them the House for the first time in decades, was canned after a bad electoral showing. The current leadership of the Democrats has led them to disaster after disaster since their big 2008 win and most of them are still around, happily driving them right into another brick wall. Every single one of them should have been forced to hit the road after last year’s fiasco. If this party doesn’t make huge changes, we’ll be seeing a second term of President Donnie, maybe this time with a filibuster-proof Senate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 4

  3. Kylopod says:

    Virginia remains very much a battleground state outside of the Presidential context.

    I would say it remains a battleground even at the presidential level. Clinton did win the state by 5 points, but I think she was helped a lot by Kaine on the ticket. Without Kaine, she’d probably still have won the state, but by a narrower margin. It’s the only purple state that she won by a wider margin than Obama.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. Kylopod says:

    @Hal_10000:

    At what point do we admit that the Democrat Party is bad at politics?

    Oh I definitely think the Democratic Party is bad at politics.

    But the “Democrat Party”? Not so much, since no such animal exists.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  5. Ratufa says:

    @Hal_10000:

    At what point do we admit that the Democrat Party is bad at politics?

    I have have different questions: What does the Democratic Party stand for, and who do those things appeal to? As Mark Blyth puts it, what is the Democratic narrative?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fq_NMyKfNoY

    :

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. Andre Kenji says:

    I’ve never thought that we’d be discussing the f* Virginia Governor race.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. Kari Q says:

    @Hal_10000:

    At what point do we admit that the Democrat Party is bad at politics?

    Aside from the fact that it’s the Democratic Party, when has anyone ever said otherwise? Haven’t we all spent months complaining about just that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  8. Mister Bluster says:

    I’ve never thought that we’d be discussing the f* Virginia Governor race.

    Well, we could be talking about murder in a Texas Baptist Church on a Sunday morning.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Kari Q: Yeah, but in the dark night of his soul Hal is a Rethuglican (at the last moment, I decided to return the slur) and has to get his licks in where he can.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  10. MBunge says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Isn’t Sun Tzu’s wisdom “Know your enemy and know yourself?” Democrats currently suck at both of them. Josh Marshall over at TPM ripped into Brazile, first all but flat out calling her a liar and then, when her statements were confirmed, condemning her for exaggeration and whining that she’s distracting from the Trump threat.

    As amusing as it is to see his transparent hypocrisy on the difference between claims of foreign collusion and the rigging of the Dem primaries, and as interesting as it was to see him refer to Hillary’s public collapse close to the election, something he refused to either comment on or even acknowledge when it happened, the most fascinating thing was that I don’t think he understands why he needs to keep defending Hillary and why Brazile is specifically making this argument BECAUSE of people like him (besides her obviously self-serving motives).

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 16

  11. Mikey says:

    @Mikey: Oh come on, someone didn’t like this? I live in Virginia, we get some commercial breaks with six or eight campaign ads. It’s ludicrous. I’m actually starting to miss tampon commercials.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  12. Mikey says:

    @MBunge:

    the rigging of the Dem primaries

    Since you want to mischaracterize Brazile’s statements as confirming “rigging,” let’s see what she actually says:

    Brazile says she found ‘no evidence’ that Democratic primaries were rigged for Clinton

    Still, asked Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” whether the primaries were rigged in favor of Clinton, Brazile told anchor George Stephanopoulos, “I found no evidence, none whatsoever.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  13. An Interested Party says:

    Poor Bernie…let’s all feel sorry for someone who wasn’t even a Democrat and just happened to jump into the Democratic primary because he needed a vehicle in which to run on because he knew he would get nowhere if he ran as an independent…as for Donna Brazile, she seems full of hot air, as she actually claims that she could have replaced Clinton with Biden…I mean, I realize she’s got books to sell, but give me a break…by the way, while she’s busy criticizing the Clinton campaign, let us not forget that she ran Al Gore’s campaign back in 2000, and that was just so successful…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  14. Kylopod says:

    @An Interested Party: I’ve said it elsewhere in the past few days, but I have a bad feeling Brazile’s talk will turn out to be the “Comey Letter” of the Virginia race.

    Then again, I’m afflicted with what Ed Kilgore recently called PTSD–Post-Trump Stress Disorder.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Mikey says:

    @Kylopod:

    I’ve said it elsewhere in the past few days, but I have a bad feeling Brazile’s talk will turn out to be the “Comey Letter” of the Virginia race.

    Eh, dunno. Tom Perriello, who Ralph Northam defeated in the Democratic primary, has been traveling through Virginia campaigning for Northam and tweeted this yesterday:

    Covered 300 miles of campaign trail in VA today. If I got $1 for every voter who asked about Brazile book, my pockets would still be empty.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  16. Tyrell says:

    This Northam seems like a throwback to the traditional southern Democrat of the past: military experience; a con-centrist in the same league of Johnson, Carter, Ervin, Connally, Nunn, Fulbright, Hollings.
    Maybe the Democrat leadership will learn from this and get the party out of the left field foul area.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  17. Kylopod says:

    @Tyrell: Yes, it does seem smart politics to run a Southerner (even one named Northam…hardy har) in a Southern state. Who woulda thunk?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  18. Hal_10000 says:

    Yes, thank you several people who corrected my typo on the Democratic Party. :)

    Yeah, there’s complaints about it but what is to be done? Whole sections of the country are written off as deplorables. You’ve got conservatives leaving the Republican Party but becoming politically homeless instead of drifting to the Democrats. The Party obsesses over political correctness but few ideas for improving people’s lives. Their hopefuls for the future are either ancient (Clinton, Biden, Sanders, Warren) or abusive prosecutors (Harris) or dopey coastal libs (Cuomo).

    And more importantly, the same leadership are in place. The leadership that drove the Party into a ditch are still there, reveling in moral victories without any real victories.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  19. An Interested Party says:

    Whole sections of the country are written off as deplorables.

    Of course that works both ways, as we hear endless trash talk about New York and California and similar locales from the right…

    Their hopefuls for the future are either ancient (Clinton, Biden, Sanders, Warren) or abusive prosecutors (Harris) or dopey coastal libs (Cuomo).

    Perhaps, but where do Republicans go after Trump? His not-so-hostile takeover of the GOP certainly won’t help Republicans in many parts of the country…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  20. Teve tory says:

    I don’t blame the Democratic party for the fact that a double-digit percentage of Americans are in fact deplorable people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  21. gVOR08 says:

    @Hal_10000: The DemocratIC Party is, I fear, not good at politics. A lot of things have led to this, but there is one underlying cause. Republicans represent big business and establishment money. Since business became heavily involved in politics in the 70s the money backing Republicans has grown and grown. It’s not just the visible money spent on campaigns, but all the dark money, spent supporting candidates and causes, but also spent building a massive infrastructure. Dems also have bundlers and “think” tanks and activist organizations, but nothing like the scale of the Rs. As a result the Rs are dominating politics.

    The Dem’s big problem is that they should be running against big money, but they need big money donors to be able to compete at all.

    I think it’s evolved to where it’s fair to look at it this way – like basketball, the rules pretty much require two teams. Given their backing, the Republicans are the Harlem Globe Trotters and the Ds are playing as the Washington Generals.

    This is a shame, as the Rs have become totally irrational and are destroying the world. At the presidential level I don’t see this changing until the next time the R prez screws the pooch bigly. And then only for a term or two.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  22. wr says:

    @MBunge: If only we had a savior like you to come in and rescue us all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Hal_10000 says:

    @gVOR08:

    There’s a problem with your theory: Democrats are doing just fine on the money side. In fact, Clinton outspent Trump 2-1. Furthermore, the effect of money on politics is vastly overstated, as we found out in the Scott Walker recalls. It has an effect, but it’s a small one.

    Let me give you an example of how I think the Democrats have gotten lost in inside-the-beltway narratives. You remember when Trump announced his candidacy? He made some comments about Mexico sending rapists and murderers here. The Left denounced it as racist and … it was racist, no question. But a huge swath of the country either didn’t see it that way or didn’t care (including the millions of Hispanics who voted for Trump). What they heard was someone saying what the Democrats keep trying not to say: that having millions of people in this country in violation of the law is not OK.

    We can cite statistics all day about how immigrants are less likely to commit crime. But when you read about some awfulness committed by someone who shouldn’t have been in the country in the first place, it’s maddening. I have a personal example. A relative of mine was almost killed when she was T-boned by an illegal immigrant who blew through a red light. Her family then got stuck with the bills because he vanished. Yeah, most don’t do that. But it’s enraging in a unique and awful way.

    Now I’m not saying the Democrats need to go Full Metal Racist on the issue. But, as I’ve been saying on my posts on empathy, simply acknowledging this issue, acknowledging people’s frustration and then trying to redirect it toward more constructive policy (e.g., the very popular DACA combined with tighter border enforcement) would have gone a long way. But it was easier to call Trump racist, call people who oppose immigration racist, call his supporters racist. And then wonder why they lost the Midwest.

    A lot of politics involves finding rational solutions to often irrational fears. The Democrats have gotten too obsessed with trying to prove those fears irrational than finding rational solutions to them. And WAY to obsessed with media firestorms.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  24. Hal_10000 says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Of course that works both ways, as we hear endless trash talk about New York and California and similar locales from the right…

    Definitely. And if the Democrats ever start making headway in the middle of the country, it is going to bite the GOP quick and hard. There are entire states that they’ve written off too. And it’s aggravating to watch them denounce moderate Republicans who are their *only* option in blue states. They’d almost rather be a minority party than have anyone remotely librul around.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Modulo Myself says:

    @Hal_10000:

    I just don’t think there’s any room left to triangulate. You can’t go back to 1992 and do what Clinton did, which was ‘understand’ the right by signing DOMA and being afraid of super-predators.

    Obama deported over two million undocumented immigrants. But in the case of a car accident, he focused on the health care side, rather than being able to grasp how ‘worse’ it would be to be injured by someone not from America. Trump doesn’t care about health care, but because he’s an insecure racist, he gets the grievances. Sure, he will screw you financially and health-wise, but maybe there’s a chance that a dark-skinned person will get it.

    The same goes with guns. Northam owns guns. He voted for Bush twice. And yet he will I think lose–and probably today will be a catalyst in that–because in the end, the right is too insular and out-of-touch to connect with. On guns, it’s now progressive to state that guns are weapons, rather than rights–no different than a book or a car, basically. Some people have libraries, others have arsenals, apparently.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  26. Kylopod says:

    @Hal_10000:

    There’s a problem with your theory: Democrats are doing just fine on the money side. In fact, Clinton outspent Trump 2-1. Furthermore, the effect of money on politics is vastly overstated, as we found out in the Scott Walker recalls. It has an effect, but it’s a small one.

    The biggest problem of money in politics isn’t that it automatically determines who wins elections (it does have an effect, but as you point out, it’s overstated). The biggest problem is the influence it has on the candidates. For instance, you think global warming denial would be much of a thing if not for the generous donations from the oil industry? You think the GOP would be pushing an economic agenda that is wildly unpopular with the public at large if not for the backing of plutocrats? It influences both parties because both parties are, to varying degrees, in the pocket of big business. With the Dems, it is counterbalanced somewhat by the influence of labor, but that just goes to show further how much these things are a distortion of having the parties represent the people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  27. michilines says:

    OT but this is outrageous. I know many of you follow memeorandum.com. Right now they have a picture of a black adult with a black child and the killer’s name under the picture associated with the killings in Texas. It’s not a picture from the story that it links to, so it’s probably intentional. I wish I could include a screen shot, but I can’t.

    This is how ridiculous fake news keeps going. Stupid people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  28. mwh191 says:

    @Kylopod: Thank you! I get so tired of people that let trump and the republicans dumb them down.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. Ben Wolf says:

    @Tyrell: Northam is running the standard Clintonite campaign of a bland centrist who is for things that are “smart” and “moving forward.” It’s impossible to determine what the man stands for or believes in and is predictably getting his brains bashed in by the Republican candidate who is willing to go for the juggular. The race shouldn’t be close but we can always count on the dlc/third way/centrist/corporate/call-them-whatever-you-like-because-we-all-know-who-they-are-wing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  30. KM says:

    @Hal_10000:

    You’ve got conservatives leaving the Republican Party but becoming politically homeless instead of drifting to the Democrats.

    Well that’s because they’re betting Trumpism as a specific infection will burn itself out and they don’t want to burn any bridges with the greater disease that is modern conservatism. In their world, you are either With Them or Against Them and working with Dems is definite on the Against list. They can’t risk that sweet, sweet money train by being put on the RINO list.

    See, most of them *were* the infection of the GOP but they were the opportunistic sort. Don’t want the host dead from an evolutionary standpoint but don’t really care that the host is decaying rapidly. Think Hep B or Lyme disease, something you can get reinfected with when your guard is down. Trump’s like Ebola, a hemorrhagic fever that’s igniting the body to rapidly destroy itself for temporary gain. It’s hoping to jump hosts before death inevitably occurs but it kills too quickly for that to be a viable strategy. These lawmakers aren’t bailing for any great moral reason, they want out of Dodge until the plague is done and they can once again infect the American public with *their* version of politics. Can’t do that as a Dem, dontcha know…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  31. Hal_10000 says:

    @Kylopod:

    The biggest problem of money in politics isn’t that it automatically determines who wins elections (it does have an effect, but as you point out, it’s overstated). The biggest problem is the influence it has on the candidates.

    I don’t disagree but why are the Democrats immune from this? They draw just as much big money and it has just as much influence on their polices. Massive unfunded pension liabilities, obeisance to unions in education policy, Obamacare’s payouts to insurance companies, their compliance with unconditional bank bailouts. Just because Dem special interests align with your political beliefs doesn’t mean they’re not special interests.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  32. @Kylopod:

    With the Dems, it is counterbalanced somewhat by the influence of labor, but that just goes to show further how much these things are a distortion of having the parties represent the people.

    That’s the problem for Democrats. Labor is losing power, and their donor base is composed of wealthy, pro-choice and very pro-environment people, concentrated in the coasts. That makes life very difficult for Democrats in rural areas in the South and the Midwest. It’s very difficult for them to run on local issues, and they can be easily killed in cultural issues. Doug Jones would be having a easier ride against Roy Moore if he could run as a pro-life on abortion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  33. Kylopod says:

    @Hal_10000:

    I don’t disagree but why are the Democrats immune from this? They draw just as much big money and it has just as much influence on their polices.

    Did you even read my last two sentences?

    “It influences both parties because both parties are, to varying degrees, in the pocket of big business. With the Dems, it is counterbalanced somewhat by the influence of labor, but that just goes to show further how much these things are a distortion of having the parties represent the people.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  34. Kylopod says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    Doug Jones would be having a easier ride against Roy Moore if he could run as a pro-life on abortion.

    I disagree with your implication that Jones is somehow being prohibited from running as pro-life. The Dems have run pro-life candidates in deep-red states before–like Joe Donnelly in Indiana or John Bel Edwards in Louisiana. Earlier this year Bernie Sanders actually campaigned for a pro-life mayoral candidate in Omaha (and took a lot of criticism from abortion-rights groups for doing so). At the presidential level, of course, this sort of thing is verboten. Bob Casey Jr. will never appear on a Democratic presidential ticket even though his positions apart from abortion are relatively liberal. At the state and local level, however, being pro-life, pro-gun, and pro-coal are practically staples of the red-state Democrat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  35. the Q says:

    Hal1000 is 100% correct.

    Neo libs take a long look in the mirror for the disaster that is occurring under your watch.

    The GOP for a hundred years has been trying to eliminate the inheritance tax and they are on the verge of doing that while at the same time giving a trillion dollar tax cut to corporations already reaping record profits and to the top 1% which have pilfered all the national income gains of the last 6 years.

    Meanwhile, the Dems are trying to decide what sex they are and which bathroom to piss in and are going to the mattresses with Catholic hospitals over contraceptive coverage.

    And now their seeming self immolation over DACA and immigration.

    The Dems’ current position seems to be that the Dreamer parents who broke the law are near heroes, indistinguishable from the children they brought with them; and their rhetoric is very hard to distinguish, certainly for most swing voters, from a belief in open borders. In fact, the Dems increasingly seem to suggest that any kind of distinction between citizens and non-citizens is somehow racist. You could see this at our last convention, when an entire evening was dedicated to Latinos, illegal and legal, as if the rule of law were largely irrelevant. Hence the euphemism “undocumented” rather than “illegal.” So the stage was built, lit, and set for Trump.

    Since 2010, the GOP has seen a record number of Governor and state legislatures that they jointly control (37 to the Dems 6!!!!!!). They have gained over 1,100 local seats and now control more house and Senate seats in their history.

    And some of you shcite on Bernie for having the temerity to remind Democratic voters what a liberal looks like!!!

    As a lifelong very liberal Dem, why don’t you neolibs google Michael Froman, the USTR who negotiated the disastrous (for working people) TPP. I almost threw up when Obama claimed the TPP would be “family friendly”. Froman was one of the Dem architects in the 90s getting rid of Glass Steagall so he could make a killing going over to Cittbank where he made tens of millions with his equally corrupt boss Robert Rubin.

    Next google the courageous Kamala Harris voting FOR (along with 41 other Dem Senators) an 80 billion dollar increase in DoD spending.

    Next, google, 2016’s “Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act.”

    Opposing this bill would have been the old Democrats version of a dick high fastball. Bad Pharma giants using their influence to pass a bill through Congress written by the pharma companies themselves reducing DEA oversight. The Dems of old would have railed against this totally obscene corporate corruption and self aggrandizement. So what happened?

    The bill was passed by acclimation and Obama signed it. Not one Democrat went on record opposing this bill. After seeing the recent 60 Minutes report, I asked myself what is the point anymore of voting Democrat?

    Two quotes which are relevant. One from St. Ronaldus of Reaganville and one from Charles Barkley.

    “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The Democratic party left me.” Reagan.

    “I used to be a Republican, until they went insane.” Charles Barkley

    While I can never bring myself to vote for wingnuts, the Democratic party is completely useless as it follows the Clinton, Feinstein, Obama centralists into the abyss of electoral meaninglessness.

    The Dems are lucky in this respect. After April and tax season, when the taxpayer sees he/she is paying more under Trumps “cut cut cut” tax bill, even the feckless Dems won’t be able to phuck-up the upcoming midterms.

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  36. Jc says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Northam is running the standard Clintonite campaign of a bland centrist who is for things that are “smart” and “moving forward.” It’s impossible to determine what the man stands for or believes in and is predictably getting his brains bashed in by the Republican candidate who is willing to go for the juggular.

    Virginia is so representative of the United States. A GOP in charge with a solid lock due to gerrymandering, and fear campaigns with no ideas other than tax cuts (when not needed) and Murica rallying cries. Yet the dem candidate is boring and normal (so is the GOP candidate, the normal part up for debate). The problem with most Democrats is they are soft. The GOP base will yell in your face, Dems are too adult to do the same. They need to. The only way to appeal to GOP middle roaders is to show some spine as most of those middle GOP folk will not flip if there is no other strong personality to have their back. I see it all the time. Most rational left leaning folk will cave at confrontation even when the opponent is making the most asinine argument. All for the sake of not making a scene. Until they toughen up all those lost battles lead to losing this war. I will vote for Northam, but worry it may be in vain unless more left leaning folk realize it’s war time.

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  37. @Kylopod:

    I disagree with your implication that Jones is somehow being prohibited from running as pro-life.

    I did not say that. I’ve said that Democrats in the South and in the Midwest have to appeal to the National Democratic Donors in New York and California. It’s much more difficult for Pro-life Democrats to raise money – that’s one of the reasons for the demise of the Blue Dogs.

    If Jones were pro-life it would be far more complicated for him to raise money. National liberals put a lot of money on Wendy Davis campaign in Texas, but precisely what made her so attractive to them made her toxic in Texas.

    If John Bel Edwards decides to run for Senate or to any office that requires a large of funding that can’t be guaranteed from in-state sources he may find trouble funding his campaign.

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  38. Tyrell says:

    @the Q: I would describe the leadership of the Democrat (-ic if you please) as somewhere close to some of the faculty leanings of UC – Berkeley.
    They need new leadership that gets out to the south, Midwest, and working class people: like they used to be.

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  39. Jc says:

    Lovely weather today (not) – This cold rain (at least hear in NVA) will keep some Dems from stopping off after to work to cast a vote – I would not be suprised if GOP wins this…

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  40. Mikey says:

    @Jc: Democrats are a lot more motivated than usual this year. Many I know aren’t letting a little rain stop them.

    I didn’t have to worry about the rain, myself–I voted two weeks ago because I work outside my county of residence and that’s a valid reason for in-person absentee.

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  41. HarvardLaw92 says:

    CNN just prospectively called the race for Northam. 72% reporting and he’s ahead 930,047 to 854,363.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  42. Mister Bluster says:

    Polls have been closed in Virginia for 1.4 hrs if they set their clocks back like I did.
    Clicking around net Virginia Dept. of Elections site is reporting 72.7% of precincts reporting and Dem Northam leading 52.3% vs. 46.5%.
    AP has called it for Democrat Northam as has CNN.

    Fox finally gave up on it’s tight early returns meme and called it for Northam.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  43. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Check out the House of Delegates races. It’s not good news for the GOP.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  44. Mikey says:

    Republican Delegate Bob Marshall, who authored Virginia’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and anti-transgender bathroom bill, has lost his seat to Danica Roem, who will be the first transgender state legislator in American history.

    This belongs in the encyclopedia under “poetic justice.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  45. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Mikey:

    I stayed up way way past my bedtime literally just to see the results of that race.

    Champagne – commence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  46. Jc says:

    @Mikey: I am glad you were right! I helped flip district 50.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  47. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Looks like the Dems will pick up at least 13 seats in the VA House of Delegates, possibly as many as 15.

    Well done, VA. Well done … 😀

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  48. humanoid.panda says:

    So, after tonight, can we retire the Democrats are bad at politics takes, please? Incumbent president party gets beaten up, time after time. The it loses the general. Pundits declare it is dead. And then, phoenix rises from the ashes! It’s almost as though there are cycles to politics..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  49. wr says:

    Maybe all the Democratic pants-wetters can finally STFU for a while. Somehow Democrats have decided it’s their duty to moan and wail and gnash their teeth over how incompetent everyone in the party is, and how only whoever is posting knows what it really takes to win an election, and how we are doomed doomed doomed because we’re such losers.

    Take a cue from the Republicans for once — assume strength, project strength, show strength.

    This past week of “oh my God Northam has blown it Tom Perez must die Hillary sucks only changing everything (although to what I don’t know) will save us” has turned out to be useless.

    Even the whining about how Northam if he won was only going to win by 3 points turned out to be false. A nine-point spread.

    Oh, and a special message to the Q: A trans woman won a legislative seat that had been held for 26 years by a hating homophobe. Our future lies in justice and freedom for all Americans, not just ones you personally approve of.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  50. Mikey says:

    @Hal_10000: I’m thinking this paragraph didn’t hold up very well.

    At what point do we admit that the Democrat Party is bad at politics? They’re up against one of the most toxic personalities in American history and they still can’t win anything and are now barely holding onto things they already have.

    No worries, buddy, we all put out a clunker now and then.

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  51. Ratufa says:

    It was a great night and Democrats have cause for happiness. . But, to be a wet blanket, these were odd-year elections, Virginia is a a state that has been trending blue, , and people shouldn’t get whipsawed by events. The Democratic Party is no worse or better at politics than it was yesterday, and the statement that “Democrats are bad at politics” is as simplistic as it was yesterday. These elections were largely driven by reactions to Donald Trump.

    In Virginia, voters by a 2-1 margin said they were casting their ballot to show opposition to Trump rather than support for him. In New Jersey the margin was 3-1. And Trump’s weak approval rating among voters in Virginia, 40 percent, was weaker still in New Jersey, a dismal 34 percent.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/virginia-jersey-exit-poll-analysis/story?id=50993338

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