Democrat Ralph Northam was elected governor of Virginia Tuesday by an unexpectedly large margin of nine percentage points. He won more votes than any previous candidate for Virginia governor.
Republican Ed Gillespie could not escape Trump’s unpopularity, despite his best efforts to thread the needle. Four in 10 Virginia voters yesterday approved of the job that the president is doing, according to preliminary exit polls. Gillespie received over 9 in 10 votes from Trump approvers, but among the larger group of Trump disapprovers, Northam had nearly as large an advantage: 87 percent.
Trump’s impact on the race was also clear from other questions in the exit polling: 34 percent of voters said expressing opposition to Trump was a reason for their vote, with almost all of this group favoring Northam, per our in-house pollster Scott Clement. Half as many (17 percent) sought to express support for the president, while 47 percent said Trump was not a factor in their choice.The GOP also suffered big losses in the VA House of Delegates. But wait, there's more:
- Maine, where Trump won an electoral vote last year, became the first state to expand Medicaid via ballot initiative. Despite active opposition from the Republican governor and an influx of outside money, the measure passed by a nearly 20-point margin. This will mean health-care coverage for an estimated 70,000 low-income residents.
- Democrat Phil Murphy, a former banker and first-time candidate, won the New Jersey governor’s race by 13 points over Chris Christie’s lieutenant governor. That’s on par with Clinton’s margin a year ago, but it’s a remarkable turnabout from four years ago — when Christie got reelected with a 22-point margin of victory. It means that Democrats will have unified control of the Garden State’s government.
- By winning a special election, Democrats took control of the Senate in Washington State.This gives the party full control of all three states on the West Coast: a blue wall of sorts.
- In Georgia, Democrats picked up three seats in the state legislature — replacing Republicans who stepped down to lead the state forestry commission, become a judge and run for governor.
- In New Hampshire’s largest city, Manchester, the incumbent Republican mayor went down. Joyce Craig is the first Democrat elected mayor there in 14 years.
- In the beating heart of Florida’s crucial Interstate 4 corridor, the former Republican mayor of St. Petersburg unexpectedly failed in a comeback bid after his Democratic opponent tied him to Trump and defined him as a denier of climate change.
- In North Carolina, the Republican mayor of Fayetteville lost his bid for a third term. In Charlotte, despite being heavily outspent, Democrat Vi Lyles will become the city’s first African American female mayor.