In the single greatest contest between liberals (Northam) and progressives (Perriello) since he Clinton/Bernie match up, the flame of democratic socialism didn’t just flicker — it was snuffed out by the Democratic establishment.

Meanwhile, Gillespie leaned hard against the basic goodness of the Republican Party in the face of a dishonorable neo-Confederate populist surge — and not only did Gillespie prevail, but did so with $2 million in the bank.

Some folks are going to spin this the other way — Northam and Perriello are in a love fest (they’re not), Gillespie has a Stewart problem (hardly), Democrats turned out and Republicans stayed home (because Dems were in a bloody contest and Republicans in a shrugging contest).

Just to be clear on the numbers, 542,812 people voted in a hotly contested Democratic primary contest, while 366,100 voted in a Republican primary where Gillespie barely lifted a finger in his own defense against one of the scummiest campaigns ever.

That’s 908,912 Virginians.  Just to give that to you in table format:

 Perriello Northam   Gillespie Stewart  Wagner
 239,383  303,429  160,039 155,716 50,345

You can probably see the mental bell curve in all of that.  But how it really ought to look like is this:

 Perriello Northam   Gillespie Stewart  Wagner
 239,383  303,429  160,039 155,716  50,345

…the tables adjusted for the proportion of the vote.  The point of doing this is to highlight two things: (1) that the center held and rejected the extremes, and (2) that Gillespie didn’t switch on the afterburners to beat Stewart.  Corey just couldn’t get around third base.

Now let’s assume for a moment that Gillespie had decided three weeks ago that he needed to slam dunk Stewart — hard.  The wonks get together and decide upon the novel idea of handing out $20 bills to everyone who votes Gillespie that day.

Could Gillespie have found an additional 100,000 Virginians out of his $2 million cash on hand balance?  Probably so.

So let’s be very clear about what happened on Tuesday.  Both parties rejected their extremes. Northam in an emphatic way (because his career was on the line); Gillespie in a less than emphatic way because he didn’t want to tangle with a Citronella Nazi co-conspirator.

Gillespie now enters the general election with twice the cash on hand Northam has, with a direct appeal to independents and working class moderates while Northam effectively was forced to the utmost edge of liberalism in order to split the Democratic base and beat Perriello.

Northam’s problems are now legion.  To review:

  • Gillespie is up 46-45 against Northam in the first round of polling.
  • Gillespie is up 49-37 among independents.
  • Gillespie’s name ID among voters is 85% — which means he is a defined candidate. Alternatively, Northam has yet to introduce himself to voters with only a 64% name ID.
  • Gillespie goes into the general with a 2:1 cash on hand advantage.
  • Northam’s campaign now emerges from a bloody primary win where the most active and vital part of the Democratic Party suffered a catastrophic rejection at the polls.
  • Northam cannot “click his heels” and return to the center-left; Perriello forced him to reject right to work, embrace Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry,

Best of all?  Stewart is refusing to endorse Gillespie, and it is highly unlikely Gillespie would even contemplate accepting the endorsement.  No skin off anyone’s nose, to be sure…

…but it is far easier for Gillespie to unshackle himself from Stewart than it is for Northam to hitch his wagon to a deflated and dejected progressive wing — especially if Gillespie is pounding away stuff the center wants to hear while Northam is still trying to crank up his own base.

Simply put?  Gillespie didn’t have to change who he was to win.  Northam did, and that’s a problem for the Democrats moving towards November.