November 7th wasn’t a pretty day for conservatives in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
In the gubernatorial race between Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie, the polls were showing a tight race. Northam, however, pulled off a massive victory. Not only did the governor’s mansion in Virginia flip blue, so did the Virginia House.
In other parts of the nation, Democrats were able to pick up seats in the Washington State Senate, claim the governor’s mansion in New Jersey, and pick up two seats in the Georgia House.
While these victories may seem small on a national scale, and they’re certainly not on the same level as the shellacking that Dems took in the Presidential and Congressional races last year, there still may be cause for concern. These victories could be nothing but a blip on the radar that is in no way predictive of what will happen in the 2018 midterms, or they could be a sign that the wave of conservatism and Trumpism that swept the nation is starting to weaken.
Before we get too concerned about what happened in Virginia, though, it’s important to take into consideration a few important facts. For one, Virginia has been shifting blue for some time now. As more and more people move into northern Virginia from Washington DC, the state has been gaining a lot of blue voters. Remember that Virginia was actually one of the few states that Clinton carried in 2016. It’s easy to make an argument that the Commonwealth was primed to flip blue no matter what the national sentiment was.
Second, it’s hard to blame the gubernatorial loss on Trump. In fact, Trump is actually the fifth President in a row to have his party lose the gubernatorial races in both Virginia and New Jersey during his first year in office, so the loss certainly isn’t unprecedented.
With that said, the legislative losses in Virginia definitely don’t bode well for the Republican Party. Democrats managed to flip 14 seats in the Virginia House – which is the biggest pickup by Democrats in a state legislature since 1899.
So, how were Democrats able to pull off such a massive victory?
First of all, their supporters showed up to vote — something they failed to do in the 2016 election. If Democrats learned one thing from the 2016 elections, it’s that complacency is dangerous. Hillary Clinton was supposed to be a shoo-in, and many Democratic voters stayed home, confident that their candidate was going to win whether they voted or not. Meanwhile, Republican voters were horrified by the likelihood of a Clinton victory and they turned out in droves. If the results in Virginia are any indication, it looks like Dems won’t be sleepwalking through any more elections anytime soon.
For one example of how massive Democratic turnout in Virginia was, consider this: in 2014, Gillespie won Loudon County in Virginia by 456 votes. This time around, he lost it by a staggering 23,432 votes. In fact, 10% more Democrats turned out in Virginia than Republicans. In regards to voter turnout, that’s a massive difference, and if it continues it could spell trouble for Republicans in 2018.
Once again, though, it’s important to put all of this into perspective. For the past year, conservatives have been dealing one major blow after another to their Democratic rivals. Not only have Republicans been winning across the country, true conservative Republicans have been defeating their more moderate opponents left and right. The losses in Virginia sting, but they’re nowhere near the significance of the victories we’ve been seeing.
On the campaign trail, Trump said repeatedly that there was going to be so much winning that people would grow tired of it. At least in regards to elections, he’s been right so far. Perhaps we’ve become so accustomed to victories in the past year that even a relatively minor loss feels like a tragedy.
Then again, the upcoming midterms represent one of the most important elections in modern times. If Trump is already having difficulty getting his legislation passed, imagine how much more difficult it will be if the Democrats are able to pick up a large number of seats in Congress.
While the results in Virginia are certainly not cause for panic, they should be considered a wakeup call for Republicans similar to wakeup call the Democrats got in 2016 – if you don’t show up to vote and the other party does, bad things happen.
~ Liberty Planet