By Dave Andrusko
When I first saw the ad (since pulled), my initial response was to be stunned. However my second response to this gutter-level ad proved to be spot on: a subsequent story by the Washington Post revealed that the ad had been aired to aid the campaign of pro-abortion gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam (D) whose numbers among minority voters in Virginia are lagging.
I will not go into details about the stomach-turning ad produced by the Latino Victory Fund (LVF). Suffice it to say that the message was clear that supporters of pro-life Ed Gillespie (R)are the kinds of rednecks who would aim their pickup trucks at children, specifically “two Latino boys, an African American child and a Muslim girl wearing a headscarf,” according to Post reporters Ed O’Keefe, Gregory S. Schneider, and Fenit Nirappil.
Here’s the operative paragraphs (minus all the lame excuses from LVF President Cristóbal J. Alex):
But before it was removed, it was designed to appeal to Latino voters. Public polling shows Northam easily beating Gillespie among black and Latino voters, but a recent private poll shared widely among minority advocacy groups sparked worry about the Democrat’s appeal. Northam’s campaign urged the groups not to release the poll’s findings, according to multiple people familiar with the matter — a point not disputed by his campaign. …
The private poll that caused worry showed Northam’s support among Latino and black voters lower than expected across the commonwealth, according to multiple people who reviewed the data.
That Post story was dated October 31. Contemporaneously, another Post story–“ A week before Election Day, new poll finds tightening race for Va. Governor,” by Scott Clement and Laura Vozzella–bore out why Northam and his fellow Democrats are searching for new depths to reach. Let me give you the lead paragraphs and then add further quotes that put them into context.
One week from Election Day, Democrat Ralph Northam’s lead has narrowed to five percentage points in the Virginia governor’s race, with Republican Ed Gillespie closing a motivation gap and consolidating support among conservatives and supporters of President Trump, a new Washington Post-Schar School poll finds.
Northam, the state’s lieutenant governor, leads among likely voters 49 percent to Gillespie’s 44 percent, a margin that is not statistically significant. The Democrat was up by 13 points in a Post poll earlier this month. Libertarian Cliff Hyra is at 4 percent, enough to play spoiler if the race remains tight through Tuesday.
#1. Democrats win state-wide in Virginia by cleaning up in Northern Virginia. It is a standing joke that whatever votes they need, the suburbs surrounding Washington, DC will report late enough to provide the margin of victory. “Northam leads Gillespie by a more than 2-to-1 margin in the vote-rich D.C. suburbs,” Scott Clement and Laura Vozzella tell us. But the next ring of suburbs is still up for grabs.
Meanwhile, Gillespie also has shored up support in the swing-voting Northern Virginia exurbs encompassing Loudoun County. Gillespie runs even with Northam at 44 percent after trailing by more than 20 percentage points a month ago.
That’s a big deal.
#2. “Gillespie holds a double-digit advantage in the southwest part of the state, 55 percent to 38 percent.” For issues that are outside our purview, that margin might prove to be much larger next Tuesday. Which brings us to
#3. Solidifying the base
Gillespie has strengthened his advantage among two Republican base groups where his support lagged behind one month ago. Among self-identified conservatives, Gillespie’s lead over Northam grew from 56 points to 69 points. Gillespie’s lead among white voters without college degrees has increased from 25 points to 35 points, although he still has room to grow among a group that favored Trump by 47 points in the state in the 2016 election.
#4. The all-important motivation factor. This is an off-year election. Besides the Commonwealth of Virginia, only New Jersey is holding elections in 2017. Clement and Vozzella write
“Gillespie’s supporters have also caught up to Northam’s in motivation to vote and in attention to the race. Among registered voters, an identical 71 percent of both Northam and Gillespie supporters say they are certain to vote or have already done so, a shift from four weeks ago, when Northam backers had a nearly 10-point edge on this measure.”
As noted at the beginning, the Post poll has Northam up by 5 points. Gillespie has “room to grow,” Northam supporters must run incendiary ads in an attempt to gin up enthusiasm.