If anyone comes out of Tuesday’s primaries with the message that it’s the Democrats who are the motivated voters who are ticked off, they’re listening to the media spin of the left trying to set up November and not looking at real data.
Angry voters don’t champion Ralph Northam.
Despite all polling (which was horribly wrong again), Northam cruised to an easy victory (which I predicted in April here and here), Perriello got everything he wanted in huge turnout and an anti-Trump electorate and still lost by 12 points despite polls showing him ahead days ago.
The Democrat LG race was equally nonplussed as the loudest voice, Susan Platt, calling for destruction of public art and impeaching the President, was barely a whisper in the wind. Justin Fairfax cruised to a double-digit win almost capturing a clear majority in a three-way race.
If you stop there, you miss the whole story.
The Republican Primary electorate is, and has been for a few years now, a ticked off bunch. The Dave Brat upset of Eric Cantor has been traditionally excused as “democrats voting for Brat” in GOP circles, but coupling that with the Forbes loss to Scott Taylor and Ed Gillespie needing every bit of a Northern Virginia advantage to hold off Corey Stewart despite Ed’s huge advantage in money, endorsements and polling leads amounts to a trend that’s inescapable.
Did traditional polling get anything right this year either? Polls called easy wins for Cantor, Forbes and Gillespie.
Republicans were pretty motivated themselves this year. Republican primary turnout was 6.6% this year, higher than 2012’s 4.7% and 2005’s 3.9%. Don’t lose that in the shadow of the Democrats 9.8% turnout over their 6.4% in 2009.
Corey Stewart was castigated as a joke and buffoon who ran an unapologetic negative campaign against Ed Gillespie and was outspent $2.4 million to 800K and he came within a percent or two of winning. Polls had Gillespie winning by upwards of 27 points.
On the LG race, Sen. Jill Vogel needed all of her Northern base to hold off Sen. Bryce Reeves, who days before was excoriated for an advertising attack on Vogel’s support for a gay judge. Didn’t matter. Voters almost rewarded Reeves with a win.
If negative campaigning doesn’t win, it at least comes close.
The Wagner and Davis campaigns focused on legislation and policy and found an electorate more interested in confederate statues, illegal immigration, gay judges, and terrorists in your neighbor’s house.
More importantly, the Republican voters, at least a significant plurality if not a majority, is ticked off at our own side and willing to vote to overthrow it.
Anyone expecting Corey Stewart to be introducing Gillespie on the victory flyaround today? Thoughts among pundits going into Tuesday were expecting Gillespie to distance from Stewart’s base, if not outwardly call it out in a “Sister Souljah” moment. That was when Stewart was barely above single digits and rumored to be dropping out. Republican voters almost made him the nominee.
On the LG side, Vogel almost lost to a candidate who has threatened to sue her directly after spending months attempting to depose her under oath. Reeves’ concession didn’t name Vogel, but simply congratulated “those who have won.”
Both Democrats and Republican have a noticeably divided electorate and enough anger to set some primary turnout records for state races.
Democrats are clearly angry at Republicans. It’s also clear that Republicans are, too.