It’s time to talk about next week’s Virginia Gubernatorial election. Democratic Ralph Northam was running miles ahead Republican candidate Ed Gillespie for weeks until an interesting phenomena happened.
For weeks, indeed even months, the Virginia governor’s race was largely ignored by the national media, or even just liberal or conservative media for that matter. It seemed no one cared about a gubernatorial election in an important swing state — so much so that some Virginians seemed to not care.
Then the Democratic National Committee and its operatives decided that Virginia’s election would be a referendum on Trump. Democratic operatives began talking about how Virginia’s gubernatorial elections are the year right after a presidential election and are a good barometer for the politics in the country.
Democrats have been longing for some election they can win and claim as a referendum on Trump. However, they lost all of the special elections for the House of Representatives, including the Georgia 6th which was seen as the Democrats’ best chance to flip a district in a deep red state.
After losing every single special election, Democrats turned to Virginia for their referendum — of course while Northam was running miles ahead of Gillespie in the polls.Embed from Getty Images
In recent weeks, Northam’s poll numbers have fallen off a cliff, notably after the DNC and its operatives started spinning the race as a referendum on Trump. And Republicans have been energized and began to coalesce around Gillespie.
So what happened? Obviously all politics is local, but there appears to be a correlation between what happened in Georgia, and what has happened in Virginia. Once the the DNC got involved in the race, Northam’s lead fell from 13 points to only 2 points.
Last Friday, former Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon attempted to tap into racial tensions and link Gillespie to white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia:
Then a Latino group, the Latino Victory Fund, painted a dark picture of America in the age of Trump and Gillespie, with an ad showing minority kids running from a big truck with the Confederate battle flag, and the Gadsden flag, and a Gillespie bumper sticker chasing them.
It’s clear the point of this ad was to scare minority voters into voting for Northam — recent private polling shows that Northam is struggling to win over minority voters. But it also energizes the conservative base to rally around Gillespie and beat back the Nancy Pelosi’s of the world.
These tactics easily allow Republicans to paint the Democrats and supporters of Northam as mean spirited political operatives willing to exploit racial tensions to win, and remind conservative voters of all the dirty tricks they’ve read about Democrats using to win elections.
By infusing itself, and its supposed referendum on Trump, the DNC has actually hurt Northam. The same thing happened with the Georgia 6th election.Embed from Getty Images
The DNC spent millions of dollars to help Jon Ossoff and he was running ahead of Karen Handel. But when the DNC started spending so much time and energy to defeat Handel, Republicans started talking about the DNC and linking Ossof to “coastal elites.”
Polling showed Ossoff ahead, but he wound up losing to Handel by several points. Meanwhile, in other districts that the DNC did not talk about, the Democratic candidate over performed — but still lost. The Georgia 6th race was the most expensive race for the House of Representatives with both campaigns spending a combined $50 million.
However, in the race for the Mick Mulvaney’s seat, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Democratic candidate Archie Parnell over performed in South Carolina’s 5th Congressional district. The Georgia 6th election and the South Carolina 5th election occurred on the same night, but there was almost no mention of South Carolina — and the Democratic candidate did a lot better than when the DNC was touting the race as a referendum on Trump.
Once again, the DNC’s intrusion into the race and its implementation of dystopian fear tactics have cut the Democrats lead significantly and might well cost the Democrats the election they’ve been longing to win.
Already liberal analysts have begun to spin a potential Northam loss saying “Virginia is still a pretty red state,” which is true. And Republicans would say “Virginia is trending Democratic,” if Gillespie loses.
Either way, that’s not exactly what you want to hear going into an election that’s supposed to prove the country hates President Trump.
In the end, politics is always local at its core. Voters don’t want a candidate who will be simply resisting Trump, they want a candidate who will work for them and keep their economies growing and their communities safe.
It’s not over till it’s over, but if the DNC wants to actually win referendums on Trump, they should stop making the main issue Trump and start trying to win voters over on the issues.