I spent a significant portion of my life in Virginia. I never thought that I would see either a socialist or transgender member of the House of Delegates, and both won. That this will cause gnashing of teeth and wailing at Liberty University is an extra bonus. Anyway, some thoughts:
- I was very cautiously optimistic about Northam, but this was a blowout. Didn’t see that coming. Gillespie was annihilated in places like Loudon County, which are establishment Republican areas (though not Trumpist ones).
- When you gerrymander, the gerrymandering works as long as your underlying assumptions about voter turnout hold up. If they don’t, the opposition can rout you.
- To understand the magnitude of the swing in the House of Delegates (it looks like Dems might gain a one-seat majority in VA House), it’s equal to a U.S. House swing from 290-145 to 214-221. That’s a blowout.
- Right now, Republican Congresswoman Barbara Comstock has to be drinking heavily (it’s five o’clock somewhere!). It does not look good today for Republicans in ‘purple’ or blue-ish districts. At all.
- Related to point #2, it just became much harder to Republicans to pass their awful tax bill. There are too many Republicans in competitive districts who are dreading what could happen.
- Bannonism/Trumpism got rocked tonight. Nobody likes that asshole Trump, all the ‘heartland whisperer’ stories notwithstanding. That said, Republicans might conclude that what’s needed is a true believer, full-bore bigot. Please do this Republicans.
- Turnout, turnout, turnout. Looking at the results, especially in the House of Delegates, Democrats showed up in much higher than expected numbers. Danica Roem, the transgender candidate beat her opponent ~55/45. That was the same margin of victory for the Republican in 2015. The difference? In 2015, the Republican received ~7,000 votes and won; in 2017, he received ~9,000 votes and lost.
- Gillespie did well in rural, white areas–his turnout was high. But when Democrat-leaning areas show up, they can deliver the win in all but the most conservative states.
- Democrats now can veto Republican redistricting plans for the first time since 1991. This matters and might even throw a couple of Congressional seats to the Democrats.
- According to exit polls, the most important issue was healthcare (37%) and these voters broke Democratic 78/21.
- Virginia managed to count 2.4 million paper ballots in three hours. Given that there are five too-close-to-call House seats, I’m very glad there’s a paper record.
- Fox News is barely covering this. While it’s tempting to laugh, there will be a huge swath of voters who have no idea how badly they’ve been routed. Pretty much the definition of epistemic closure.
A good night last night.