Old Dominion voters went to the polls yesterday and chose the two favored candidates as respective party nominees, but their victory route was anything but predicted. The Democrats were supposed to be in a tight contest between Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and former US Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Charlottesville), but the race ended differently. Instead of Lt. Gov. Northam winning with a small margin and Perriello performing well in northern Virginia, we saw a 56-44% Northam victory, with the winner dominating not only in northern Virginia, but the Richmond area, and his home Tidewater region, as well. Perriello did far better than expected in the rural regions, however.
Even more surprising was the Republican finish. Former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie was supposed to score a comfortable primary victory, but instead scrambled to hang on for a 4,300-vote (44-43%) margin over under-funded Prince William County Board chairman Corey Stewart with one precinct outstanding. Gillespie must now spend valuable time improving his position within the Republican vote base if he is to have any chance of upending Northam in the fall election.
Turnout also favored the Democrats, though the prevailing wisdom that Gillespie was a lock for the GOP nomination could have tamped down their participation rate. Of the more than 909,000 individuals who cast their vote in yesterday’s primary election, 60% of them chose the Democratic ballot.
Based upon last night’s results and developments, Lt. Gov. Northam must be rated as the early favorite to replace outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) in the November 6th election.
The Rundown Blog
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