It wasn’t just that the so-called insiders called it wrong, it is what they focused on: the gossip in the Donna Brazile book, the focus on Northam as too soft-spoken, the so-called battle between liberal-moderate factions in the Democratic Party. Pardon my language, but this was all crap. The Washington insiders failed to read the impact of the health care issue and the importance voters gave to Northam as a doctor. They failed to understand how strong the anti-Trump sentiment was in Virginia and how motivated Democrats were to vote. They failed to gauge the serious cognitive dissonance between Gillespie’s ads and how he was trying to portray himself as a moderate, independent-from-Trump Republican. That made voters very angry.
I went door-to-door in Northern Virginia before the election and on election day. A couple of things surprised me given the talk I heard for weeks from the echo chamber. Not one person bought up Russia, not one person wanted to discuss Hillary Clinton or Donna Brazile’s book or the so-called warring factions within the Democratic Party. Nearly every identified voter was eager to talk about how horrendous they thought Donald Trump was and how much they liked gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam. If anything, they found Ed Gillespie’s ads not believable and over the top. They found the prospect of a Republican who was adopting Trump’s message becoming governor a great motivator to get out and vote. They were energized. No wonder the turnout was about 2.6 million votes compared to 2.2 million four years ago. And no wonder Ralph Northam won by 9 points and got over 300,000 more votes than Gov. Terry McAuliffe received four years earlier.