Three Virginia political science professors told Big League Politics Tuesday’s gubernatorial election between Republican Edward W. Gillespie and Democrat Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam, gives them a read on the commonwealth’s shifting electorate and the political fortunes of President Donald J. Trump.
“Everybody wants to know a year into the Trump presidency how the two political parties are doing,” said University of Virginia Professor of Politics John M. Owen IV.
University of Richmond Professor of Political Science Daniel J. Palazzolo said he agreed with Owen.
“The baseline assumption is that people are looking at this race as an indicator of the presidency,” Palazzolo said.
However, using the gubernatorial race as a barometer to measure Trump’s success may be reading too much into the race, he said.
“Gillespie has been pretty good at distancing himself from Trump without losing the base,” he said. “He’s aligned himself with Trump on immigration, but distanced himself from Trump’s personality.”
Palazzolo said Gillespie’s strategy of agreeing with Trump, but not being agreeable with Trump makes is difficult for the vote to a clear reflection of how the president is doing.
It is important to remember, too, that regardless of the candidate, Virginia Republicans have a better record at turning out for this off-cycle election, he said.
The underlying subtext of the race is the shift in voter demographics that Virginia has seen over the past two decades, Owen said.
“The conventional wisdom is that Virginia is moving from the red column to the purple column as people from other places around the country, generally more socially liberal, are moving into the Northern Virginia suburbs,” he said.
“If Gillespie wins, it will fly in the face of how Virginia has recently changed from red to purple to light blue,” said Professor Richard Dagger, the chairman of the Department of Political Science at the University of Richmond.
Dagger said he also sees this shift in the electorate as the large influx of Democrats moving into Northern Virginia.
Palazzolo said the anti-Trump sentiment could be enough to push Northam across the finish line, but that Gillespie is not to be underestimated.
The polls in Virginia will be open Tuesday from 6 a.m. through 7 p.m.
‘WHAT A DISASTER:’ Iowa Caucus Results Delayed in Vote Count Catastrophe
The nation is left with more questions than answers on the night of the Iowa Caucus.
The Iowa Caucus was intended to kick off the Democratic Presidential primary by highlighting candidates with a credible shot of winning the nomination.
Instead, the first-in-the nation caucus seems to be more representative of the Democratic Party’s incompetence, after results for the caucus are delayed for an unforeseen “quality assurance” tabulation process. The development has many election hawks and Democrats howling mad, with many suspecting the DNC is dipping into its bag of old tricks with the hopes of blunting or preventing a Bernie Sanders victory in the caucus.
There are many reports of caucus precinct coordinators being totally ignored when trying to report the results of their local caucuses to the Iowa Democratic Party. At least one caucus organizer was outright hung up on by the party when he called in to report results- while speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer live on air.
This is the moment
— Ryan James Girdusky (@RyanGirdusky) February 4, 2020
The mass of confusion is being traced to the failure of an app designed to report results. Iowa Democrats simply explained the unusual delay as the result of “inconsistencies,” offering little to no in depth explanation for what seems to be third world election practices.
Although we’re inexplicably left without any vote tallies the night of the election, exit polls and crowd sizes suggest that polling frontrunner Sanders has a strong chance to win. Pete Buttigieg also appears set for a strong second place performance. Sanders expressed confidence in a strong performance when addressing his supporters in the state.
— Averi Harper (@AveriHarper) February 4, 2020
Former Vice President Joe Biden appears slated for an embarrassment, outright failing to advance to the “viable” stage in many precinct and regional caucus. It’s not entirely impossible that Biden finishes fourth in the primary, a surprise development that would leave the candidate many assumed to be an easy frontrunner for the Democratic nomination struggling as he lags to New Hampshire and later primary states.
MSNBC talking heads could be overheard referring to the caucus as a “disaster” in a some capacity in leaked audio.
NBC hot mic captures "OMG, what a disaster" as they talk about canditates pic.twitter.com/IWfZsIOHPc
— Wojciech Pawelczyk (@PolishPatriotTM) February 4, 2020
As of late Monday night, the Iowa Democratic Party is yet to report any vote results, let alone declare a winner. Big League Politics is continuing to monitor the situation.
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