I’m not surprised that Ed Gillespie lost the Virginia governor’s race.
I never trusted or supported Establishment Ed and expected him to lose. The only real surprise was that it wasn’t even close. Gillespie is a former RNC chairman and amnesty lobbyist for Tyson Foods. The idea that he suddenly cared about Confederate monuments and MS-13 violent crime was always laughably implausible. If he had won the election last night, he would have forgotten his campaign rhetoric by this morning and would have gone on to do lots of favors for big business.
The Washington Post exit polls showed that Confederate monuments would have won in a landslide. By 57% to 38%, Virginians thought that Confederate monuments should be left in place. 71% of those voters went for Gillespie while 27% of them went for Northam. Among the 38% of voters who thought Confederate monuments should be removed, 91% went for Northam and 8% went for Gillespie. In other words, voters who supported keeping the Confederate monuments found other reasons to vote for Northam who locked up the anti-Confederate monument vote. The NBC exit polls showed Virginians supported keeping Confederate monuments by a 60% to 36% margin. This included 95% of Republicans, 73% of Independents and 26% of Democrats. Confederate monuments was a losing issue for Ralph Northam who won the election by focusing on other issues.
Of the five issues that mattered most in the Virginia governor’s race, 39% said healthcare, 17% said gun policy, 8% said abortion, 12% said immigration and 15% said taxes. Northam had a 55 point advantage over Gillespie on healthcare. Immigration was a winning issue for Gillespie. He had a 48 point advantage with the 12% of voters who considered immigration their most important issue.
In the end, the 22 point gender gap with women sunk Gillespie. Whites were 67% of voters. Gillespie only won them by 57% to 42%. Non-Whites were 33% of the electorate. Northam won them by an 80% to 19% margin. The non-White vote in Virginia isn’t particularly large and the margin wasn’t remarkable. Instead, it was the suburban, college educated, female White voter living in places like the NOVA suburbs and Hampton Roads who was the decisive voting bloc. In the other Southern states, Republicans dominate statewide races because they win such a larger share of the White vote.
Hispanics and Asians were 6% and 3% of the Virginia electorate. Gillespie won 32% of Hispanics. Just 4% of the electorate were Hispanics who voted for Northam. If he had won the vote of every Hispanic in Virginia, he still would have lost by 5 points. 32% of voters were White women and they only broke 51% to 49% for Gillespie. If he had performed as well with White women as he did with White men (the pro-Gillespie margin was 63% to 36%), he would have won the election easily. Clearly, gender was more important than race and immigration in this election.
The moral of the story: Confederate monuments was a winning issue for Republicans, but White women care more about issues like healthcare than Confederate monuments and voted for Ralph Northam. It was Ed Gillespie’s TrueCons agenda which lost the election.
Note: This was the contrast in message which decided the election.