Political reporter says lessons to be learned in Virginia's election results
A political reporter recently said on a Chicago radio show that the results of Nov. 8 elections in several states were mostly in line with history — but still contained some lessons for Republicans to learn from.
Selena Zito, a writer for the Washington Examiner as well as a columnist for the New York Post and contributor to CNN, was on the AM 560 show "Chicago's Morning Answer" on Nov. 9, the day after Democrats claimed widespread election wins in several states.
Show co-host Amy Jacobson began the show by listing the states, which included New Jersey, Maine and Washington. But the focus became the results in Virginia, where the state's House of Delegates saw a major swing in party power.
Going into the election, Republicans held 66 of the House's 100 seats, but the night ended with the Democratic Party gaining nearly equal footing. WTOP.com based innWashington, D.C., reported on Nov. 29 that the results of the election gave the Republicans a 51-49 advantage, although two of the closest results were going to a recount and a third tight election was under consideration for it.
In addition, the Democratic Party held onto the governor's seat in Virginia when Ralph Northam beat Republican challenger Ed Gillespie.
Fueling a lot of that change was about 32,000 more voters in this gubernatorial election than the previous one, with one voter in an audio clip of the WIND program saying that her vote was a statement against President Donald Trump.
Zito said Virginia is a Democrat-leaning state – Trump, a Republican, lost the state in last year's presidential election – meaning Virginia's results were not going to reflect of Trump's voter base. Also, midterm elections tend to run counter to the party of a new presidential administration, especially in down-ballot races.
However, what was different with the Nov. 8 elections was just how many local races were lost by Republicans. She said that should mean some soul searching by the GOP on the cause of the losses, if they were rebukes of the president or of Congress or another cause.
“That's sort of the meat of the problem,” Zito said on "Chicago's Morning Answer." “They really need to analyze whats going on with voters that they're turning away form their local Republicans.”
Jacobson said Gillespie did not campaign with Trump or even mention him while campaigning, and she asked Zito if that damaged his chances. Zito said she did not think so, as the Trump voters came out in Virginia, but more Democrats went to the polls.
Zito said one reason for the increase in Democrat voting was Hillary Clinton, whom she described as a presidential candidate who was not beloved by voters with numerous political preferences, was not on the ballot this year.
“This gave the voters that didn't show up last year the ability to voice their concerns about Trump, to voice their displeasure with him, so that's why you saw a higher turnout among Democrats,” Zito said.
Zito said political races are local, and candidates need to do what works at that level.
“If it works in your district to be supportive of the president, do that,” Zito said. “If it works in your distsrict to only be supportive of the (president) on certain issues, do that. If it works in your district to run like heck away from him, do that.”