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Politics & Policy

The Final Countdown Begins in Virginia

From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

The Final Countdown Begins in Virginia

This morning, Quinnipiac University released a new poll showing Democrat Ralph Northam up by 9 points over Republican Ed Gillespie in the Virginia gubernatorial election. As dire as that sounds for Gillespie, cynical minds will interpret this result as a face-saving correction by the pollster; the school’s previous survey last week showed Northam up by 17 points.

Most other pollsters show a much closer race: Christopher Newport University shows Northam up by 6 points, Emerson has Northam up by 3 points, the New York Times/Siena has the same, Rasmussen shows a tie and the Republican firm The Polling Company has Gillespie up by 3 points.

No one knows what the results will show Tuesday night, but it does feel like the Northam campaign stepped on a bunch of rakes in the closing weeks and days:

How did Democrats, of all people, not realize what a colossal mistake it is to print up any amount of flyers that leave off Justin Fairfax, the African-American candidate for lieutenant governor? Yes, yes, it’s allegedly because a union requested it, because of a disagreement with Fairfax over a pipeline project, but who couldn’t foresee that move becoming controversial? Former Democratic governor Doug Wilder chose to not endorse Northam, implying the flyer was a factor. Wilder has always had an independent streak, but if African-American turnout is lower than Democrats hope, you can expect a lot of finger-pointing about that flyer.

The Latino Victory ad – accepted by the Northam campaign as an in-kind contribution — was so over-the-top and incendiary that Chuck Todd was left asking the Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, “Democrats don’t like it when Republicans stereotype — aren’t you stereotyping? Are you saying that… all pickup truck drivers are racist? Do you understand why some people think the ad implies that?” Perez ignored the question and just accused Gillespie of running a “dog whistle politics” campaign. Now even those inclined to find Gillespie a squish have a reason to vote against the Democrats this year.

The support of the liberal PAC Democracy for America is probably not make-or-break for the Northam campaign. Still, it’s a little unusual to see a liberal group announce in the final week that they’re suspending support for the Democratic nominee and calling him “gutless, politically senseless, and morally debased”… for saying he would sign a bill banning sanctuary cities.

Patrick Ruffini observed that Northam is running ads tying Gillespie to Trump… on Fox News. How do you think most Virginians watching Fox News feel about Trump? This is basically doing the other guy’s get-out-the-vote for him.

Does all of that add up to a Gillespie win? We’ll know in 48 hours.

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