Republicans are nervous after last night’s big win by Democrats, and they should be. Republicans didn’t just get beaten. They got routed. Going into election night, the GOP was somewhat optimistic about Ed Gillespie’s chances of winning.
And then the voting started.
Ralph Northam beat Gillespie by 9 points. In areas where Gillespie did well several years ago in his Senate race, he got mashed this time around. He wanted to limit the damage in the northern Virginia suburbs, and instead, he lost bigly.
Republicans lost in New Jersey and New York, but that matters little. Chris Christie was a cancer in New Jersey with his 18 percent job approval and Bill de Blasio managed to polish his Sandinista image enough to win comfortably in New York City.
But Virginia tells the tale of the tape. Not only did Gillespie lose, but Republicans did also poorly down-ticket in Virginia as well, losing some races in the House of Delegates.
So what does this tell us, if anything?
1. It proves once again, Hillary Clinton was a terrible candidate. – It’s easy to ask, “What does she have to do with anything?” Well, she’s so sorry that she was likely the only one who could lose to Donald Trump. Look at the numbers. Hillary won Virginia by a bit over 5 points. Northam won by 9. Ask yourself and answer honestly? Would Joe Biden have lost to Donald Trump? Hillary could not connect with voters on a level the way Biden could do. But the Democratic Party began to lay the groundwork for Hillary’s candidacy they moment Barack Obama won re-election in 2012.
Her candidacy was a coronation, but they were not expecting the upstart campaign of Bernie Sanders. It should have been a warning signal that a relatively unknown socialist from Vermont almost knocked her off. But it didn’t. They went through the general campaign thinking it would be an easy win over the reality show host. People didn’t feel an urgency to get out and vote for her.
2. Trumpism is a flop, and everybody knows it. – There are #MAGA types who will tell you Gillespie lost because he didn’t go #MAGA enough. President Trump, ever the man-baby, threw Gillespie under the bus with such speed, Superman would be jealous:
Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 8, 2017
Gillespie did use a lot of Trump nonsense to try and win, and it failed. People have warned about the damage Trump would do to the Republican Party, and this is the start. Those who are arguing Gillespie didn’t #MAGA enough, or claim demographics were the problem, should look to see what Larry Sabato had to say:
Dear Pundit Friends, please stop attributing this D landslide in VA to "changing demographics". VA hasn't changed that much since last Nov. 8 (Hillary by 5%). The bigger explanation is a backlash to Trump and Trumpism, pure and simple. #VAGov
— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) November 8, 2017
Sabato is not a pundit. Partisan politics is not relevant to him. He looks at results and data.
You cannot explain away the adverse effect Trump had in this race. Exit polls in Virginia showed 57 percent of voters had an unfavorable view of how Trump handles his job. April was the last time Trump cracked 45 percent in a job approval poll. The RealClear Politics average dipped below 39 percent for Trump.
What’s truly remarkable is he’s doing so poorly with low unemployment, 3 percent GDP growth for two quarters in a row and a booming stock market. Any other Republican in office right now would likely be enjoying job approval numbers above 50 percent. Perhaps getting into Twitter fights with gold star widows is not the kind of “winning” people thought it would be.
If you think it’s bad now, wait until 2018.