What Last Night Means for Georgia

Ralph Northam(D) won Virginia last night in overwhelming fashion over Ed Gillespie(R). Polls had the race close. Progressive groups like Democracy for America had pulled their support, saying he was too moderate. National pundits were talking about how he couldn’t motivate the voters Democrats need to win.

And yet he won by 10%. It’s a bigger victory than Hillary in 2016, than the sitting Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe had in 2013. It is a huge victory.

And when you look at the breakdown of his votes and of the Georgia elections from last night, you can see a huge Georgia victory in the future.

Ralph Northam, who voted for George W. Bush twice, is a moderate progressive but ran a race focused on local concerns, not pleasing national progressive organizations funded by left wing mega-donors. There was a worry that he couldn’t motivate Democrats, and that he wasn’t talking enough to our base. They said he was from a Trump area of the state, and didn’t represent progressive values. He ran against Tom Periello, who was a darling of the DC establishment, heralded by progressive causes like Our Revolution, plus Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Periello got most of his money from out of state. He talked about progressive ideals, focusing on our base and ignoring the rest.

Northam beat Periello by 12 in the primary.

Here in Georgia we have the same dynamic. Stacey Abrams is a hero of the Washington groups staffed by professional Democratic operatives.  Our Revolution, Emily’s List, and all the rest. Her contributions come from out of state (63% of them!) and she spends more time in DC, NYC, and San Francisco than she does is Statesboro, Athens, and Ellijay.

Contrast that to Stacey Evans and the Northam lesson becomes clear. She’s a Trump Country Democrat who lives in the suburbs. She has local support – not national – and she talks about HOPE, tuition-free technical colleges, and community schools. Those are Georgia ideas, not national talking points. Throw in that she’s got more support from African-American legislators than Abrams does, and the comparison becomes even more striking. Evans doesn’t have the conservative baggage that Northam did, but the victory biography and numbers start looking the same.

Last night, Northam’s coalition looked like the path to victory here. The base Democratic voters showed up big yesterday, especially in the DC suburbs, but Northam also had significant shifts among white voters. 41% of white women voted for Clinton in Virginia, while Northam got 48% of that vote. 29% of white men voted for Clinton, while Northam got 36%.

When you look at the exit polls and see that only 41% of voters said they were Democrats, you can see it was non-Democrats who were a key to powering Northam’s landslide and helping Democratic candidates make big gains in the legislature.

The legislative results here in Georgia tell the rest of the story. Jen Jordan and Jaha Howard, two Democrats, led the field of four Republicans and one other Dem in the special election to replace Hunter Hill. They nearly topped 50% just on their votes and this seat knocked the Republicans out of the supermajority in the state Senate. The district was gerrymandered to consolidate Republican control, but Democrats still managed to flip it.

The two House districts that flipped are even more striking. Though neither had even seen a Democrat attempt to compete since Abrams took over the Caucus after redistricting in 2011, both won their races easily in areas with not a lot of traditional Democratic voters. Oconee County in particular has been a heavily Republican area, and in it, voters decided to send a Democrat to Atlanta.

Deborah Gonzalez won House District 117 with a lead of 53 to 47 percent, flipping the seat from a Republican stronghold.

Together these races show a path to victory for Stacey Evans. Trump is faltering in Georgia, Democrats are winning special elections, and Ossoff (remember him?) outperformed Democratic expectations in that race. You put those together and it shows an Evans victory in 2018.

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augusta52Dave BearseBenevolusAndrew C. Pope Recent comment authors
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Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

Northam (2017) v. Clinton (2016) exit polling:

Single women (Northam +16)
Young voters (18-29) (Northam +15)
White, college-educated women (Northam +8)
White women (Northam +7)

Those numbers should concern Republicans in Virginia, in Georgia, and nationally.

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

Also, it should be noted that Northam’s platform included:
– $15 minimum wage
– Opposition to charter school expansion
– Bringing Virginia into the United States Climate Alliance
– Overturning Virginia’s Right-to-Work law
– Free community college in exchange for a year of public service
– Medicaid expansion
– Driver’s licenses and in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants

Additionally, he’s pro-choice, advocated for the removal of Confederate statues, opposed a right-to-work amendment to the Virginia constitution, believes the scientific consensus on climate change, pro-gun control, pro-DACA, and pro-marijuana decriminalization.

Benevolus
Benevolus

I think you could make the case that people like the idea of Donald Trump, but not the actual Donald Trump.
Kinda ironic in a way because those same people seem to dislike the idea of Obamacare but they do like the actual Obamacare.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

National perspective: “In the end, what we learned on Tuesday evening consists largely of things we already knew. If Democrats can get their base out, they can win. Pandering to white populist sympathies is only a useful strategy for Republicans in solidly red states. And the President is a delusional, gutless sack of lame excuses and Taco Bell Mild Sauce.” Ed Burmila

augusta52
augusta52

As someone in the press mentioned before the Virginia election, the battle is basically NOVA (Northern Virginia) versus ROVA (rest of Virginia). NOVA (basically everything north of Fredericksburg and Culpeper) accounts for about a third of the state’s total votes; Northam won there by about a 2-1 margin. In “ROVA”, it was close, Gillispie winning that part of the state by 2 points, 50-48. A Republican could win statewide in Virginia if he or she holds down their losses, maybe like a 10-12 point loss—but no way can a GOP candidate win statewide with a 2-1 loss in NOVA. A… Read more »

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

Don’t lose sight of Northam’s performance in the Tidewater. Northam was boosted by strong black turnout in Norfolk and SE Virginia. In addition, he won reliably-conservative Virginia Beach by a 6 point margin (it probably helped that Northam is from the area). If Georgia Democrats can boost minority turnout and target the same college-educated white suburbanites that flipped to Northam in NOVA, Richmond, Roanoke, and elsewhere… they might have a shot.

Benevolus
Benevolus

Is there a professional/philosophical explanation of why Dems do well in urban areas and Repubs in rural areas?
Do people who move to an urban area become more liberal?