Voters head to the polls tomorrow to decide who will be the next Governor of the swing-state of Virginia. A closely fought battle between Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie. The pre-vote polls are very tight with each side claiming the lead, but there is one person who cannot possibly lose in this race – President Donald Trump.
Northam has run what most consider to be a poor campaign, focusing on anti-Trump, anti-Gillespie rhetoric and an extremely questionable ad paid for by the Latino Victory Fund. He has been short on policy and long on talk. Yet the hopes (and a couple of careers) of the DNC are with him.
The controversial political ad, featured a truck flying a confederate flag chasing down minority children, including a young Muslim girl. The ad was pulled after a Muslim man, with an ISIS flag in his truck, ran down and killed people in a bike lane in New York.
DNC Chair, Tom Perez, has already staked his reputation on a win to placate nervous party donors saying, “Wait until Virginia,” almost as a mantra. If Northam fails to win the vote, it will not just be himself out of a job.
One thing that the media is not grasping is that the President will win one way or the other. Ed Gillespie’s campaign has chosen not to utilize the President’s “Star Power,” feeling that it would be more likely to motivate the “liberal north Virginians” to get out and vote. According to Politico:
“The bottom line is that a Trump appearance for either Republican candidate [in Virginia or New Jersey] would be a death knell for their political fortunes,” said John Weaver, a veteran GOP strategist who has been sharply critical of the President. “He has hard-core support from 25 percent of the electorate. That’s not going to help you in blue states like New Jersey or swing states like Virginia.”
He might be right, but if Gillespie loses, then President Trump can rightly claim that it was through a series of poor decisions (of the Gillespie’s campaign) that led to him not being involved. It will solidify his 25% hardcore voter base in Virginia and bring the GOP more firmly under his control.
If, on the other hand, Gillespie should win, President Trump can rightly claim that since his election, the Democrats and their ideology have been rejected again and again by the voters. It is difficult to see a scenario that could look bad for the President.
At present, it is a tight run race with some polls showing Northam two points ahead, and others showing Gillespie in the same position. What this election will come down to is turnout. Who can get their voters up and to the polls in large enough numbers?
Mark is a political writer and journalist who has worked on campaigns for Brexit.