Dear Pundit Friends, please stop attributing this D landslide in VA to "changing demographics". VA hasn't changed that much since last Nov. 8 (Hillary by 5%). The bigger explanation is a backlash to Trump and Trumpism, pure and simple. #VAGov
— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) November 8, 2017
ex-Bush WH aide Wehner:”If you’re suburban R House member, you’re terrified tonight. first sign of real wave, that Trump may damage not just country but their own prospects”
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) November 8, 2017
Philip Bump, in the Washington Post — “Trump just made a bad night for Republicans much worse for himself”:
Ed Gillespie made a bet. By embracing the political priorities of President Trump, he figured, he could help bolster enthusiasm from Trump-supporting voters who had nearly blocked his nomination to be the Republican nominee for governor in Virginia. Those voters had apparently preferred Corey A. Stewart, a candidate who had internalized Trump’s politics in a way that Gillespie hadn’t. So, as Election Day approached, Gillespie ran ads highlighting immigration, “sanctuary cities” and gang violence, despite the fact that crime is much lower in Virginia than in most of the rest of the country…
On Tuesday night, the bottom fell out. Largely on the strength of an unexpected surge in turnout, Northam won easily. Expected to prevail by a bit over three points, he’ll end up with a victory of at least twice that size. After a close loss in a Senate race in 2014, Gillespie lost again, this time by much more.
Trump wasted no time in distancing himself from Gillespie, enjoying the spaciousness of his now-280-character tweets….
We’ve noted before that Trump has an insurance premium against any calls for his impeachment. His popularity with Republicans has slipped since the beginning of his presidency, but he’s still very popular with them, particularly more conservative members of his party. (Per Gallup, more than 9 in 10 conservative Republicans approve of Trump.) Because Republican Party primaries see an overrepresentation of conservatives, that meant that Republicans eager to win reelection to Congress were less likely to turn on the president.
What happened after those primaries, though, was anyone’s guess. Tuesday night offered some sense of what that might be.
Trump’s tweet distancing himself from Gillespie sugarcoats the election in a way that may make Trump feel better but probably isn’t fooling anyone on Capitol Hill… But it also does something very dangerous for Trump right now. It shows, yet again, that he isn’t loyal to his political partners.…
Think of the message that Trump has sent to Republicans. Stand with him on policy and have him bad-mouth what you passed. Embrace his endorsement and see a loss followed by Trump playing down his support. Embrace his endorsement and his politics, and see a loss followed by actual criticism. These are all one-offs — but politics generally suffers from a small sample size from which to draw conclusions, and no one spends more time trying to draw conclusions than politicians…
It’s unlikely that many Republicans worried about next November will be convinced by Trump’s argument. Instead, they’re likely to take another lesson: Trump can’t deliver a victory for you when you’re trailing, and neither can Trumpism. (In fact, there’s every reason to think that Trump was the liability that his poll numbers would suggest, with Gillespie doing fine in western Virginia but getting beaten badly in more-Democratic Northern Virginia.) Nor will Trump stand with you should things go south.
If, next summer, the question of Trump’s fate as president is raised, how might Republicans in center-right districts be expected to evaluate that decision?…
They'll probably convince themselves voters are angry they havent thrown enough people off healthcare or redistributed enough wealth upwards
— Dan Rosenheck (@DanRosenheck) November 8, 2017
Republicans on election day 2016 vs. election day 2017 pic.twitter.com/nOs02OQoDb
— Sal Gentile (@salgentile) November 8, 2017