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Ralph Northam Defeats Ed Gillespie In Virginia In Strong Democratic Rebuke Of Trump

Ralph Northam

After some signs that the race was tightening, Democratic Party nominee and current Lt. Governor Ralph Northam ended up easily defeating Republican nominee Ed Gillespie in an election that saw big Democratic gains across the state in what clearly seems to be a strong rebuke to President Trump and the Republican Party:

Democrat Ralph Shearer Northam won a hard-fought race to become Virginia’s 73rd governor, beating Republican Ed Gillespie in an election watched around the nation as a judgment on President Trump and the politics of polarization.

Voters choose Northam, the lieutenant governor, 54 percent to 45 percent over Gillespie as part of a stunning Democratic sweep of statewide offices, including the lieutenant governor and attorney general. There also were widespread Democratic victories in the House of Delegates.

In his victory speech, Northam — a 58-year-old pediatrician and Army veteran — said “Virginia has told us to end the divisiveness, that we will not condone hatred and bigotry, and to end the politics that have torn this country apart.”

The vote had national resonance as well. Democrats — and some moderate Republicans — had rallied behind Northam as a message against the anti-immigrant nativism and angry populism stoked by Trump’s surprise victory last year. Gillespie, in turn, had dipped into Trump’s playbook with strong law-and-order messages, but tried to keep his distance from the president in a state that now leans blue.

Social media reaction Wednesday framed the Virginia governor’s contest as a bellwether race of the sentiments across the country as some people predicted it was also a sign that the GOP faced big troubles. Many voters said they were simply relieved that the election and its ads were over.

One voter, Tina Lee , wrote on Twitter “my weeping with relief after checking my phone this AM to find out what happened in my home state.”

Democrats broke into tears as results came in Tuesday evening to the Northam campaign party in Fairfax City, the outcome beyond what most had dared hope. For all the fury unleashed on the Virginia races by Trump and his followers, who lit up social media and tried to define the contests in terms of Confederate statues and Hispanic street gangs, Northam had seemed an unlikely standard-bearer to fight back.

Even some fellow Democrats had criticized Northam for his low-key campaign style. But in the end he won more votes than any previous Virginia governor, and it was a historic night for the party across many fronts.

“In Virginia it’s going to take a doctor to heal our differences, to bring unity to our people, and I’m here to let you know that the doctor is in,” Northam said to ecstatic supporters Tuesday night at George Mason University. “We need to close the wounds that divide, and bring unity to Virginia . . . Whether you voted for me or not, we are all Virginians. I hope to earn your confidence and support.”

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), the ultimate party cheerleader and a patron of Northam’s political career, said he hadn’t expected such a resounding set of victories — especially in the House of Delegates, where the prospect of regaining a majority had seemed out of reach.

“I always say you’re going to get it back because you have to say that politically,” McAuliffe said in an interview, “but in my mind I was thinking six to eight [seats gained] would have been a great night for the Democrats.”

(…)

Gillespie, 56, was gracious in defeat, taking to the stage at a hotel outside Richmond to congratulate Northam and pledging to help the new governor in any way he could.

“I want to thank all those who voted today, on both sides,” Gillespie said, his wife, ticketmates and campaign staffers standing beside him. “These million voters [who supported him] and our friends and family love our commonwealth, they love our fellow Virginians, and they love even those who disagree with them.”

Gillespie never mentioned Trump during his concession speech, just as he almost never mentioned him on the campaign trail. But the president was quick to lash out earlier Tuesday as it became clear that Gillespie was losing.

“Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for,” the president tweeted before the final tally was in, and shortly before addressing the South Korean National Assembly during his trip to Asia.

Only hours earlier, he tweeted support for Gillespie, saying that electing “Ralph Northam will allow crime to be rampant in Virginia.” But if the Republican wins, Trump said, “MS-13 and crime will be gone.” He was referring to the MS-13 street gang, which featured prominently in Gillespie ads raising fears of violence and illegal immigration.

(…)

The success of Northam and his ticket was fueled by unprecedented turnout among Democrats and liberals, who traditionally have sat out Virginia elections in nonpresidential years.

Preliminary exit poll results found 28 percent of voters identifying as liberals, up eight points from the 2013 governor’s race and two points from last year, when Clinton won the state by five points. Democrats composed 41 percent of the electorate, up four points from 2013 and one point from last year.

Republicans were 31 percent of the electorate, a record low in exit polling dating to 1996.

African Americans accounted for 21 percent of voters, according to exit poll results, identical to their share in last year’s presidential election and one point higher than in 2013. In total, nonwhite voters made up 33 percent of the electorate, the same as last year but up from 28 percent in the previous governor’s race.

Black voters favored Northam over Gillespie by a 73-point margin, while Hispanic voters favored Northam by 33 points.

Democrats had worked feverishly in recent weeks to court African American voters, and former president Barack Obama held a rally with the ticket in Richmond last month. Obama also recorded a robo-call that went out Monday and Tuesday to encourage people to vote.

As they had four years earlier, Democrats in Virginia swept all three statewide offices up for election, with Lt. Governor candidate Justin Fairfax and incumbent Attorney General Mark Herring winning their races easily, this time by decisive margins that were much better than what they saw in 2013 when the Attorney General’s race ended up being in limbo until well into November due to a recount. Most surprisingly, the Democratic success also translated into big wins in down-ballot races, with Democrats cutting significantly into the Republican majority in the House of Delegates to the point where they may actually be able to take control of that house of the state legislature depending on the outcome of a handful of races. In one of the most closely watched of those legislative races, long-standing incumbent Republican Bob Marshall, a socially conservative Republican who has been behind such controversial pieces of legislation such as the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, the infamous transvaginal ultrasound bill, and a bill that would have restricted the access of transgender people to bathrooms matching their gender identity in public buildings, was defeated by the first transgender candidate to win a legislative race in Virginia. In another race, the first openly lesbian candidate won in the same county. In another race, Chris Hurst, whose girlfriend was killed by a former co-worker during a live television appearance two years ago, won election over the Republican candidate in a race that focused heavily on gun issues in a part of the state where gun rights are basically a bipartisan issue. Other races saw long-standing Republican incumbents either losing their seats or in races that remain too close to call in districts that they had won easily in previous elections. In fact, Democrats in Virginia won more seats in the state legislature yesterday than they have in any election since the late 19th Century. Regardless of the outcome in the House of Delegates, Republicans will remain in control of the State Senate, which is not up for re-election until 2019. However, even if they only end up reducing the Republican majority in the House of Delegates, Democrats will have gone a long way toward reducing GOP power in Richmond as the state stands at the cusp of a census in 2020 that will determine new lines for Congressional and state legislative districts. In other words, last night was nothing less than a complete sweep for Virginia Democrats and a stunning defeat for Republicans who had hoped that nominating Gillespie, who came close to defeating popular Senator Mark Warner just three years ago, would give them a shot at regaining the Governor’s mansion they had lost four years ago when they pinned their hopes on a strongly conservative ticket led by former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

While the Democratic win in New Jersey’s Gubernatorial race was entirely predictable and doesn’t really tell us very much about national politics as a whole, that isn’t necessarily the case when it comes to Virginia. Inevitably, there will be much examination of these results and what they mean for national politics, for the Republican and Democratic parties, and for the political landscape heading into the 2018 elections. President Trump, who had urged voters to turn out for Gillespie in a series of tweets from Asia, see here, here, and here, sought to distance himself in the face of the widespread Republican losses, saying that Gillespie had not really embraced his agenda when the opposite was actually true. Additionally, whether or not Gillespie fully embraced Trump’s agenda, it’s clear from the exit polls that it was negative reaction to Trump that brought voters to the polls in Virginia yesterday, especially in voter-rich areas such as Northern Virginia, where Gillespie both performed worse than he had in 2014 and worse than Trump did just a year ago. Republican Scott Taylor ,who represents Virginia’s Second Congressional District, called the outcome a referendum on Trump, noting that it was Trump’s divisive rhetoric, much of which Gillespie adopted when he began concentrating on issues such as immigration and Confederate monuments, that led to the massive turnout in favor of Democrats that we saw in Northern Virginia, Richmond, and other areas of the state. Former Congressman Tom Davis, a Republican who represented a district in Northern Virginia for roughly a decade agreed, saying that  “Ed couldn’t escape being a proxy for Trump, which killed him. It’s a huge drag on the ticket. It motivated the Democratic base. Democrats came out en masse in protest. This was their first chance to mobilize the base. The lesson here is that Republicans have to get their act together. Ed did as well as he could do with the hand he was dealt.”

Taylor is right, of course. While Virginia was not among the states that went for Trump a year ago, the fact that Republicans suffered such extensive losses in a state that they at least should have been far more competitive in can only be attributed to the man in the White House and what the voters in Virginia think of him. As Frank Bruni puts it in today’s New York Times, this should have Republicans nationwide worried:

Does it mean that Democrats can wrest one chamber of Congress from Republican control in 2018? Impossible to say. Politically speaking, there are eons between now and then, and the Virginia governor’s race had facets all its own. But there are reasons for Republicans to be very afraid.

One is that Northam outperformed Clinton without being a particularly energetic, forceful candidate. Through Tuesday morning and afternoon, I heard from pessimistic Democrats who were already ruing the fact that he’d been the party’s nominee. Couldn’t they have found someone with more fire? Someone smoother? In the race’s final days, he flip-flopped on sanctuary cities and made other blunders that cast him as unsteady and uncertain. Didn’t matter. He prevailed, handily.

Republicans should also worry that they’ve oversold themselves on the moderate-progressive divide in the Democratic Party and how severely Democrats would be hobbled by it. In the days leading up to Tuesday, a book by Donna Brazile, the former head of the Democratic National Committee, reignited the enmity between Clinton’s backers and supporters of Bernie Sanders, and that became one of several reasons to wonder if progressives would fail to turn out for Northam, a milquetoast moderate. In the end, enough of them did, not just to guarantee his victory but to jeopardize Virginia Republicans’ 66-to-34 majority in the state’s House of Delegates. On Wednesday morning, unofficial returns showed that Democrats would pick up at least 14 seats, and they could, after recounts, even wind up with control of the House.

“If the Virginia results showed anything, it’s that ideological purity isn’t necessary to win in the Age of Trump,” Lis Smith, a Democratic operative who worked for McAuliffe, told me Tuesday night. “Northam came out as a two-time George W. Bush voter, and he failed some key liberal litmus tests. Still he won.”

In rooting for a Gillespie victory, the G.O.P. was looking for something larger: an assurance that a Republican in a swing state or swing district could find the right recipe for energizing Trump supporters without alienating Trump skeptics. Gillespie’s answer was to keep Trump at arm’s length physically but not spiritually. So while he never — not once — had Trump stump for him in Virginia, he parroted the president’s tough talk about criminals and immigrants and denounced professional football players who didn’t stand for the national anthem.

Writing at the well-respected Republican-leaning political blog Bearing Drift, Lynn Mitchell finds another reason for Republicans to worry, namely the fact that Republicans came out to vote against a moderate conservative because of the man in the White House:

The words were spoken forcefully: “I’m voting straight Democrat to teach the Republicans a lesson.”

Why?

Donald Trump.

I heard it over and over. These were lifelong Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents, mostly women but also some men, who had a goal on Election Day: Send a message to the GOP.

Some good Republicans were collateral damage. “But he’s one of the good guys, pragmatic and willing to work across the aisle,” I protested.

“Doesn’t matter. He’s an R,” was the response. The resolve in their voices was unmistakable.

(…)

Will the GOP learn from the stunning losses of Tuesday?

That will be the question going forward. I’m going to guess that, at least in the short-term, the answer will be a resounding no, and that Republicans on Capitol Hill and nationwide will continue to hitch their political fortunes to an increasingly unpopular President. If that’s the case, then they’re likely to suffer even further in future elections.

 

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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. Hal_10000 says:

    The crazy thing is that there was poll out just the other day showing Democrats at record low approval ratings (Republicans are at or near record lows as well). So this wasn’t a stampede to Democrats; it was pure rebuke to the Trumpists.

    I also think it’s a glimpse of how a non-Clinton Democrat would have done last year. Trump’s approval numbers are low but haven’t collapsed. The only reason he won in 2016, to the extent that he did, was because Clinton has been on the political scene for 25 years and is unpopular as well. With a generic Democrat on the ticket, the Trumpists got crushed. And Trump promptly stabbed Gillespie in the back.

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    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  2. Kylopod says:

    Perhaps the biggest shocker of the night was that Dems came close to, and may yet succeed in, capturing the Virginia House of Delegates—an outcome no one, I repeat no one, saw coming.

    So maybe the seemingly impossible goal of capturing the US Senate next year isn’t so impossible?

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  3. Liberal Capitalist says:

    After all this talk of building a wall, I don’t think that he realized that it would be so big… and so BLUE.

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  4. michael reynolds says:

    Governorships in Virginia and New Jersey.

    A transgender woman with no experience beat a senior GOP Virginia delegate in Radford, VA.

    A Liberian refugee was elected mayor of Helena, MT.

    The Washington State Senate flipped.

    The Democrats may flip or come very close to flipping the Virginia House of Delegates.

    An anti-gun candidate won in Roanoke.

    Yeah, that was a very, very good day for Team Blue. And every part of it was influenced by a revulsion for Donald Trump. Better still.

    Paul Ryan is wearing a brown diaper today.

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  5. Mikey says:

    @michael reynolds:

    A transgender woman with no experience beat a senior GOP Virginia delegate in Radford, VA.

    That was in Manassas, actually. Bob Marshall, who once proudly called himself “chief homophobe,” was soundly defeated by Danica Roem, who will be America’s first-ever openly transgender state legislator.

    What happened in Radford was Democrat Chris Hurst, whose girlfriend, TV journalist Alison Parker, was murdered on live TV in 2015, defeated the incumbent Republican.

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  6. michael reynolds says:

    @Mikey:
    I should have caught that. My sister-in-law went to Radford U and my wife’s entire family is split between Richmond and Roanoke.

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  7. CSK says:

    I wonder how much larger a margin Gillespie would have lost by had he “embraced” Trump (to use Trump’s word) and accepted Bannon’s offer to campaign for him?

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  8. gVOR08 says:

    It was a very good night for Dems. I’m a lot more cheerful today. But it was one night, and Rs will also be learning lessons from it. Continue to run scared Dems. From everything I heard last night, it sounds like health care was as much an issue as Trump. And tax reform (sic) has great potential as a Dem issue.

    Whenever and however Trump leaves the picture, GOPs will be claiming it was all on him, that without him GOPs will be reasonable people and safe to elect. Do not let them get away with that lie.

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  9. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    If only the Confederate Statues had been allowed to vote….

    In spite of the drubbing the Trumplicans took, I still think the bigger story is Cheeto-Dick telling the Dems that the tax cut won’t benefit him personally. In doing so he has put his tax returns front and center again, along with the question of what is he hiding by not releasing them. What is it that he doesn’t want us to see? Maybe Bob Mueller will tell us?

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  10. Franklin says:

    A transgender woman with no experience beat perhaps the most anti-LGBTQ politician in America.

    Ha ha ha ha ha, love this story!!!

    Bob Marshall will soon be dead (possibly in hell) and forgotten, like any hateful person should be.

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  11. grumpy realist says:

    Anyone seen this article from the Independent?

    Looks like we’ve got some loopy characters on the anti-Trump side as well….

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  12. Hal_10000 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    A transgender woman with no experience beat a senior GOP Virginia delegate in Radford, VA.

    Not only that: beat a vile proud anti-LGBT bigot who authored Virginia’s bathroom bill.

    “The millstones of the gods grind late, but they grind fine”

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  13. wr says:

    @Hal_10000: “So this wasn’t a stampede to Democrats; it was pure rebuke to the Trumpists.”

    I think a 15-17 swing in the 100-person state legislature is exactly a stampede to Democrats. But you keep telling yourself whatever stories you find comforting.

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  14. Modulo Myself says:

    The last thing the Democrats need to do is to analyze these victories through Frank Bruni’s perspective, with maybe a David Brook’s column about how the Democrats will go too far thrown in.

    Lee Carter beat the Majority Whip of the House, and he’s a member of the DSA. I doubt Virginia is about to go socialist, but the voters who aren’t invested in their tiny media positions might not freak out at socialism in the quite the way that Frank Bruni will, mostly because he made a pass at a young guy and was laughed at.

    There’s a picture of the winners vs the losers in the Virginia House. They should be framing this photo and passing it around. The Democrats look like real humans who can hold it together and deal with the world; the GOP looks like your average Dad who watches Fox and knows everything that’s going on with vast Hillary-Fusion-Obama-Deep State conspiracy.

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  15. Franklin says:
  16. MarkedMan says:

    So this is about what I expected. Fox News shows basically ignored the results last night and today. And this morning on their website the featured election news was essentially a celebration of the 2016 Trump victory. No longer satisfied with attracting the stupidest viewers, they are actively trying to make the viewers they have even more stupid.

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  17. Kari Q says:

    @Hal_10000:

    So this wasn’t a stampede to Democrats; it was pure rebuke to the Trumpists.

    For the last 50 years or so, the group voting “against the other side” has won the midterm election. Even if you’re right, it’s not a bad sign for 2018. Beyond that is too far away to worry about at this point.

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  18. the Q says:

    Excellent news. I hope you neolib Democratic head in the sand Hillary dolts will finally choke on your bullshite support of her last year.

    More than anything, this vote shows just how much she is detested and hated by the average voter and how easily Bernie, a democratic socialist could be President now instead of the abortion currently in office.

    Northam, a boring, non charismatic, middle of the road candidate DOUBLED the Queen’s margin of victory.

    Just goes to empirically show what you Hillary slurpers just couldn’t admit: we ran the worst candidate possible and paid for it up and down the ticket.

    Brazile hopefully is destroying any last shred of Clinton influence on the party. Good riddance to the most corrupt political couple in Democratic history.

    Lets hope Terry McAuliffe is accused of sexual harassment so that grotesque ahole won’t be mentioned as a Dem candidate in 2020. When I worked with Drexel (Milken’s firm) in the 80s, I did business with Gary Winnick another crook and shyster who took McAuliffe under his wing and together they grifted shareholders into $54 billion in losses of Global Crossing shareholder equity.

    However, before the collapse Winnick dumped his shares and made $750 million while Terry cashed in for a cool $20 million.

    If you want that kind of trash as a nominee then I say blow up the Dem party forever.

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  19. Tyrell says:

    This should be a lesson for the Democratic party leadership. That is to get centrist – conservative candidates, preferably with a strong military background: candidates from the south and mid-west instead of from places like Berkeley.

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  20. the Q says:

    Masked Man wrote….”No longer satisfied with attracting the stupidest viewers, they are actively trying to make the viewers they have even more stupid.”

    Is that even possible?

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  21. Yank says:

    <blockquoteExcellent news. I hope you neolib Democratic head in the sand Hillary dolts will finally choke on your bullshite support of her last year.

    More than anything, this vote shows just how much she is detested and hated by the average voter and how easily Bernie, a democratic socialist could be President now instead of the abortion currently in office.

    Northam, a boring, non charismatic, middle of the road candidate DOUBLED the Queen’s margin of victory.

    Lmao at this load of crap.

    You know absolute nothing about Virginia. VA Democrats are establishment friendly, which is the opposite of Bernie and his supporters. There is a reason why Bernie wasn’t asked to campaign here (he is a poor fit).

    This election was not about Clinton, it was all about Trump and backlash to the GOP.

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  22. DrDaveT says:

    Lynn Mitchell finds another reason for Republicans to worry, namely the fact that Republicans came out to vote against a moderate conservative because of the man in the White House:

    Sorry, I call bullsh!t. You cannot plausibly characterize a former chairman of the RNC, widely known as “President Bush’s pit bull”, the man behind the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, as a “moderate conservative”.

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  23. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Yank:

    Ignore him. He just figured out that his hoped for far-left resurgence took a hard turn and crashed headfirst into a bridge pylon.

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  24. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Tyrell:

    candidates from the south and mid-west

    You’re unbelievably adorable, in a Rip Van Winkle staggering out of his cave to squint at the sunshine sort of way. Don’t ever change.

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  25. Kylopod says:

    @the Q:

    Northam, a boring, non charismatic, middle of the road candidate DOUBLED the Queen’s margin of victory.

    Northam, for your information, is a moderate in many ways to the right of Clinton. (He voted for Bush twice.) He beat out a hardcore progressive in the primaries, and Bernie refused to endorse him.

    You won’t get any argument from me that Clinton was a weak candidate. I’ve been saying that for years. But it has nothing to do with her being a “neolib.” Northam is as much a “neolib” as she is, so your attempt to use Northam’s victory as proof of your thesis that Democratic centrism doesn’t sell is bizarre, to say the least.

    If anything, his victory greatly undermines your thesis that the Dems need to nominate hardcore progressives in order to start winning again.

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  26. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Kylopod: Liberals were afraid that Northam would lose precisely because he reminded them of Hillary Clinton.

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  27. Yank says:

    Liberals were afraid that Northam would lose precisely because he reminded them of Hillary Clinton.

    This would make sense if Clinton had lost Virginia.

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  28. Kylopod says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    Liberals were afraid that Northam would lose precisely because he reminded them of Hillary Clinton.

    That was part of it. But also, the polls were all over the map in the final days, ranging from a wide Northam lead to a wide Gillespie lead and everything in between. And in the last VA gubernatorial race, while McAuliffe prevailed, it was by a much narrower margin than the polls had suggested. The Republican Ken Cuccinelli did 3.5% better than his RCP average, yet the RCP average this time showed Northam ahead by only 3.3 points, and the polls had significantly tightened in the previous few weeks. It’s no wonder Dems were scared.

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  29. MarkedMan says:

    Just to set the record straight about Bernie: He resoundingly lost to Clinton in the Democratic Primaries. This bizarre idea that if someone (Donna Brazille?) had overturned the will of Democratic voters and installed Bernie as the Democratic nominee he would have beaten Trump is ridiculous. Bernie had more significant and obvious problems with Russia than Trump, and that’s saying something. Bernie never released his tax returns (OK, right near the end he released his 2015 tax returns, with 2015 being the year he started running for president and knew his returns would be scrutinized, but neither as a Senator or as a Candidate has he never released any other years, despite numerous promises to do so.) Plus, Bernie is an a**hole to his colleagues who never acheived any legislation more significant than naming a post office in Vermont. He has no friends. He’s not even a Democrat and although he has caucused with the Dems he made it obvious that he considered everyone a sellout except himself, who he viewed as too pure to be questioned by riff-raff. None of this was raised during the primary because a) he was losing the whole time and eventually lost, and b) Hillary, O’Malley and the Democratic establishment didn’t want to piss off the hysterical Bernie Bros any more than they had too.

    You might say, but all of this applies to Trump, but that doesn’t matter. The Trump states would still have voted for Trump, because Republicans don’t have any standards. But Democrats do. As the Repubs pounded these things home, and Bernie became more frazzled and outraged, more and more Dems would have been turned off.

    And I would be willing to bet my left nut that Bernie is going to lose the primary again, because he cannot bring himself to make the alliances necessary to win. He is after all, pure, while every other politician is beneath him. And then he’s going to run as an independent and guarantee Trump a 2020 victory.

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  30. wr says:

    @Tyrell: This has never occurred to me before, but do you think it’s possible that Tyrell and the Q are actually the same person? They both post countless messages yearning for a never-existent golden age, they both express themselves through mantras or taglines, neither really ever responds to anything in particular. I’ve got no clue if this is true, but what a performance if it is…

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  31. Jen says:

    @MarkedMan: Bernie would have had his own backside handed to him. Having worked in Republican politics, my hunch is this is how the playbook would have gone:

    – Every single piece of direct mail, TV, and web advertising would have carried the price tag of his ideas (note: everyone loves single payer until they are asked if they’d pay more in taxes for it);

    – There would have been specific lines of attack on his vote to send Vermont’s nuclear waste to a poor area in Texas (Republicans had already labeled this “environmental racism” or something similar); and another on his whole “honeymoon in Moscow” business.

    – They would have tasked third parties/independent PACs to run the ads on Sander’s fiction writing and somewhat out of the mainstream views on cancer and fluoridation.

    The foreign policy Republicans who voted for Clinton would not have voted for Sanders, and it’s likely that the overall women’s vote would have gone down. I am really, really tired of this fantasy that Bernie would have magically won. Democrats need to stop re-litigating the primary and focus on tight messaging and policy–*without* moving too far left.

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  32. Mikey says:

    @Jen: I have no doubt you’re correct.

    Not only would the GOP oppo research have absolutely gutted him, his press coverage would have undergone a shift. Sanders had pretty much zero negative press during the Democratic primary. A recent study of press coverage shows he had the most positive coverage of any candidate.

    That would have changed, and changed significantly, had he somehow won the nomination.

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  33. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jen:

    I have learned to instantly and utterly tune out anybody who tries to suggest that Sanders either had or has a legitimate chance at winning. No debate, no discussion, just complete and total obviation.

    On the spectrum of unreachability, they’re on par with the hard-core Trumpkins, and – to be bluntly honest – neither of them are worth the effort.

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  34. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Mikey:

    Sanders would have been, in a word, flambéed alive. The Republican attack machine would have gone into overdrive, and Sanders being Sanders, he’d have gone on the offensive to defend his crap ideas.

    “Sanders wants to raise your taxes, including the poor and the middle class!!!!”

    “Yes I do, and here’s why”

    He’d have spent the entire campaign on the defensive, digging himself farther into a hole. McGovern would have looked like a minor defeat by comparison.

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  35. MarkedMan says:

    I just hope Bernie’s Dem opponents hit him hard and early and knock him out of the race. If he get’s hit hard enough it may discourage a third party run. It’s better to cauterize the Bernie Bro wound early and understand what damage they can do.

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  36. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I remain convinced that his support – such as it was/is – disproportionately consists of young voters. The ones who have a nasty tendency to make a lot of internet noise, but who fail to actually show up at the polls on election day. That theory was born out by the exit demographics in 2016.

    There is therefore, IMO, no real downside in the party setting Mr. Sanders aflame – viciously and early – should he make the error of deciding to pull this stunt of his a second time. It would allow us to coalesce around a viable candidate earlier on, enable us to distance ourselves from the far-left fringe and negate any damage he otherwise might have been able to effect.

    If we alienate his supporters in the process, WGAD? They mostly don’t bother to show up to vote anyway.

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  37. Andre Kenji says:

    @wr:

    This has never occurred to me before, but do you think it’s possible that Tyrell and the Q are actually the same person?

    Tyrrell is a New Deal Democrat the misses the day of Humphrey and Estes Kefauver(He sounds like he was there). Q sounds like a twenty something Bernieite that sees him/herself as a radical.

    @Kylopod: Northam was the typical bland establishment candidate that lacked charisma. In an alternate reality we are debating about how Hillary almost lost to an orange cheetos and then Northam allowed Gillespie to be elected governor.

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  38. Yank says:

    Northam was the typical bland establishment candidate that lacked charisma.

    Funny thing is I think Northam being boring was actually one of his big selling points. People have Trump fatigue and are tired about hearing about him every single day.

    Northam is breath of fresh air. Just a boring dude, who will likely be a competent governor.

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  39. wr says:

    @Andre Kenji: Q sounds like a twenty something Bernieite that sees him/herself as a radical.”

    Q actually claims to be 70 or 80 (at least) and pining for the days of the New Deal when Roosevelt was doing great things for the nation’s economy but very little of it was aimed at minorities.

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  40. al-Ameda says:

    @the Q:

    Excellent news. I hope you neolib Democratic head in the sand Hillary dolts will finally choke on your bullshite support of her last year.

    Speaking of dolts …
    Bernie got over 2M fewer votes than Hillary did in primary voting.
    I hope you hate-the-Queen purists are happy with Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, and with Trumps roll-it-back Cabinet chiefs.

    No, I was not excited about Hillary either, but Bernie was not happening for me. I could see Trump coming and I certainly did not want Trump making any nominations to the Supreme Court. So, yeah, I voted for Hillary, because Jill Stein and Gary Johnson were not viable options.

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  41. Kylopod says:

    @wr:

    Q actually claims to be 70 or 80 (at least)

    He claims to have been alive when FDR was president, and he gives the impression he remembers the New Deal. That would put him in his 80s at least. He’d have to be in his 90s minimum merely to have been a teen during the Depression.

    But who knows? The author Herman Wouk incredibly is still alive and over 100. A few years ago he released a novel in which he demonstrated an amusing level of ignorance about modern technology (he had his characters composing emails that sounded like formal letters). I must say Q seems impressively tech-savvy for an oldster, including figuring out quicker than I did how to fool the profanity filter on this forum.

    In any case, being alive during a particular period doesn’t necessarily mean anything in terms of being aware of what was going on. I was in my teens when Bill Clinton was elected, but I never learned about the health care debacle until reading about it several years after it occurred. And why not? I had a lot else on my mind.

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