It is now taken as fact that the American people are unhappy with Donald Trump and the Republican Party. Evidence for this is polling data and two elections—one in Alabama where Roy Moore lost in large part due to accusations by women concerning his behavior thirty plus years ago and the other, the gubernatorial race in Virginia.
Those who tout Virginia’s gubernatorial election result as a sign of a Democrat turn around ought to test the contents of their hookas because the smoke they are exhaling is nothing but thin air.
To understand why the victory for Democrat gubernatorial candidate Northam is not a repudiation of President Trump, take a look at two key data sets: the actual vote numbers and the exit poll data generated by Edison Media Research.
The raw data shows that Northam did slightly better than Hillary Clinton who won Virginia in 2016 by winning 53.9 percent of the vote to her 49.7. Gillespie’s 45.0 percent, however, was virtually identical to Donald Trump’s 44.4 2016 total.
Although Gillespie lost, he did no worse in what must be considered a Democrat majority state than Trump did. Gains by Democrats in the Virginia State House confirm the fact that Virginia is a blue state.
Looking at the exit polls we see additional data that show Trump and Gillespie pulled very similar numbers.
While Trump won 52% of the male vote, Gillespie got 50%. The two won identical percentages of the female vote—39%.
By race, Trump did slightly better with “White” voters—59% to 57% while Gillespie did slightly better with “Blacks” 12% to 9% and Hispanics 32% to 30%.
The bottom line is the Trump presidency did not hurt Gillespie. Democrat candidates for statewide office should win in Virginia unless they run a Hillary type campaign or face an usual candidate, which Gillespie was not. He was a mainstream Republican, unable to give independent and Democrat voters a reason to come out for his candidacy.
Anyone who thinks Virginia’s results provide implications for 2018 or 2020 are fooling themselves as well as anyone who listens to them.