In elections last night the Democrats won governors races in New Jersey and Virginia. They will not trumpet this as presaging major victories in the mid-term elections next year. There were some lessons to be learned last night but it is not the harbinger that Democrats might think.
First, both New Jersey and Virginia are blue states. New Jersey has been a blue state for a long time. The fact that Chris Christie was elected governor there was an outlier in the normal course of elective politics. Virginia has slowly become a blue state with the growing population in Northern Virginia. I lived in Virginia for 41 years and watched the transformation. But a look at Virginia is exactly why I would caution Democrats about being overly optimistic about next year. But make no mistake Donald Trump was on the ballot in races around the nation and Republicans will have to deal with that issue.
A quick look that map above illustrates the problems facing both political parties. It is something that I have written about in the past and it continues today. If you go just by land mass you see Republicans winning comfortably but when you factor in the vote totals they lost big. The reason is that our political divide continues in urban versus rural. In Virginia Democrats won big in the urban areas, especially in Northern Virginia which has become the population center of Virginia. This enabled them to win legislative seats as well as the governor’s race. They pile up large majorities in these urban areas and overcome Republican wins in the less populated rural areas. In statewide races they are building a large advantage in Virginia. The counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudon and Prince William are moving towards becoming Democrat strongholds. These are voters that are tied to government and feel threatened when someone wants to cut government spending.
The hatred of Donald Trump did not help Republicans in Virginia races. I am sure it motivated a lot of people to turn out and despite the President’s foolish claim that Gillespie lost because he did not embrace him the opposite is exactly the truth. Gillespie may well have lost this race but the numbers say that just being associated with Trump dragged him down lower in the vote totals. Trump’s slash and burn style of politics will not help Republicans in the mid-terms and they better realize this quickly and adopt a new strategy.
I will openly speculate that Donald Trump may not run for reelection in 2020. His poll numbers will be abysmal and his ego will not allow him to suffer a defeat. He will conjure up some reason as to why he is not running but in the end it would be a blessing to Republicans if he were to step aside. The interesting thing is that his policies are not as unpopular as the man himself. It is his personality and style that is turning people off. We don’t want an attack dog in the White House. We don’t want someone jumping on Twitter every morning to launch some new offensive. We want someone that will be more Presidential and the honest truth is that does not fit his personality.