Despite the size of the red districts, this was a narrow (in the Senate) for the blue team, because of greater population in the blue regions—including immigrants.
It’s official, maybe: Virginia is blue. Republicans lost control of the Old Dominion’s General Assembly on Tuesday, an Election-Day blowout that put Virginia’s government in Democrat hands. Political commentators eagerly blamed the loss on Donald Trump’s alienating white suburbanites. Partly, but this overlooks what the commentariat and the Never Trump GOP ruling class always overlook: demographics. Like many other battleground states, Virginia, and its dying GOP, is the victim of mass immigration—illegal and (let it be noted) legal.
A little history: Democrats haven’t controlled the state top-to-bottom since 1993. That year, they lost the governor’s mansion to George Allen, who won with 58 percent of the vote. Republican Jim Gilmore won in 1997 with 55 percent. Democrat control of the General Assembly dwindled from substantial majorities in the early 90s to razor-thin margins in 1998. Republicans have held the House of Delegates since 2000, and did the same in the Senate for all but four of the 19 years since then. But that changed Tuesday when Democrats won a bare majority in the Senate and a solid majority in the House.
The D.C. suburbs (“NOVA”) didn’t send a single Republican to Richmond. As well, the commonwealth now suffers under the yoke of a Democratic governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and U.S. House and Senate delegations [Democrats flip Virginia Senate and House, taking control of state government for the first time in a generation, by Gregory S. Schneider and Laura Vozzella, The Washington Post, November 5, 2019].
With the help of governor Ralph Northam, who famously justified infanticide and mysteriously got a pass for wearing blackface, the new Democratic majorities in the General Assembly will aggressively pursue a Leftist agenda. Top priorities: gun control, climate change, and LGBT issues.
Commentators fingered Trump for the GOP’s loss. “The fact is what we’ve seen in election after election since Trump has been in office is Democrats outperforming prior performances—and that strength has been rooted in the suburbs. Remember, Republicans lost the House in 2018 because suburban voters turned on Trump and the GOP—and Republicans haven’t fixed that problem,” argued NPR’s Domenico Montanaro [Tuesday’s Elections Show Impeachment Might Not Boost GOP As Much As It Hoped, November 6, 2019].
N.b. no mention of demographic change. Similarly, the Washington Post’s lengthy “what-happened” story above did not include “demographics” once.
Whites account for less than 70 percent of Virginia’s votes now. When Republicans last won the governor’s race in 2009, whites were 78 percent of votes cast. Bob McDonnell won 54 percent of the total vote but 67 percent of white votes.
Statewide exit polls are not available for 2019, but they are for the past three years. Incumbent Sen. Tim Kaine demolished GOP challenger and immigration patriot Corey Stewart in 2018, a 16-point victory helped by timid GOP elites who ran away as the Left and its Cuckservative toadies pilloried Stewart as a “racist” blah blah. Yet Stewart still won 54 percent of the white vote. Whites were 68 percent of the vote in 2018. Stewart only barely lost college-educated whites, 47 percent to Kaine’s 51. In contrast, he won just 14 percent of the non-white vote. Like blacks, immigrants are a solid Democrat constituency.
Even with the demographics of 2009, Stewart still would have lost. But the race would have been closer. Ed Gillespie, the GOP’s pick for governor in 2017, might have won by a thin margin with 2009’s demographics. But Gillespie lost by nearly nine points to Northam despite the full support of the GOP Establishment. He won just 57 percent of the white vote, which in that year composed 67 percent of the total. See Might As Well Have Said “Please Clap”—Ed Gillespie Ran a JEB! Campaign in a Trump World.
The figures certainly do show a marked drop in support among college-educated whites. McDonnell won 61 percent of their vote in 2009; Gillespie and Stewart slightly below 50 percent. So yes, a “Great Awokening” has addled some affluent whites in the Trump era. But this year suburban Republicans, after all, did everything possible to distance themselves from Trump and position themselves as “moderates” [In Virginia Election, Suburban Republicans Sound a Lot Like Democrats, by Reid J. Epstein, New York Times, October 31, 2019]. They still lost. Shifting demographics mean that the suburbs themselves are changing.
Some back-of-the-envelope math shows Gillespie could have won with 65 percent of the white vote, Stewart with 66 percent. In other words, to win in Virginia again, the GOP needs the same level of support from whites, about 67 percent, that McDonnell received in 2009. That should not be impossible.
And consider this: Trump performed far better in 2016 than any statewide Republican has since his election. He only lost Virginia by five points and received 59 percent of the white vote. He also won the college-educated white vote by four points. Republicans won the majority of Virginia’s U.S. House seats in 2016.
If Trump is the source of the Virginia GOP’s woes, then why did he perform better than anyone else? Trump would have won Virginia if he enjoyed the state’s 2009 voting demographics; lest we forget, 78 percent of voters were white in 2009; Just 67 percent were in 2016.
And Virginia is much less white than it was 30 years ago. In 1990, its population was 77.4 percent white. In 2000, 72.3. In 2010, it was 68.6 percent. That number is somewhere below 65 percent now. However, most Hispanics were also included in those figures, so the real figure today is likely below 60 percent—and possibly below 55. (Note, however, that raw population is not the same thing as eligible voters—and eligible voters is not the same thing as voters who actually turn out).
Northern Virginia has sharply turned away from the GOP, but not just because college-educated white liberals and moderates moved in. Loudoun County is now 66 percent “white,” according to the latest figures. But the true figure is likely closer to 55 percent, again, if one subtracts Hispanics. And that doesn’t count Asians, who make up 17 percent of Loudoun County and don’t vote Republican. Seventy-seven percent of Asian-Americans voted for the Democrats in 2018. Asians comprise more than 6 percent of Virginia’s population.
There are other factors. Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe gave more than 173,000 felons the right to vote. A reliable Democratic bloc, they could have swung many competitive races. Leftist activists certainly made them a prime target for organizing [The Democratic Surge in Virginia Was a Long Time Coming, by Tram Nguyen, New York Times, November 6, 2019].
Kritarch-ordered redistricting didn’t help the GOP either. A federal district court recently ordered Virginia to adopt a new redistricting map that up-ended 25 districts. The new map overwhelmingly favored Democrats, and why Slate attributed Tuesday’s results to the court decision [Virginia Democrats’ Victory Proves That Gerrymandering Matters, by Mark Joseph Stern, November 6, 2019].
But immigration-driven racial shift the key to the Democratic victory. The same thing is moving other battleground states to the left. Thus Conservative talker Mike Cernovich claims college-educated whites, not immigrants, are making Texas blue :
White college educated whites are turning Texas blue.
That's why I'm not sympathetic for Fuentes crew always talking about race.
Look at data of college educated WHITES, they vote overwhelming anti-Trump. https://t.co/e2cp21Lmuo
— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) November 6, 2019
GOP Gov. Gregg Abbot won 69 percent of the white vote in 2018, including 61 percent of the college-educated white. Sen. Ted Cruz won 66 percent of the white vote in his much closer race against Beto O’Rourke and he still received the majority of the college-educated vote—55 percent.
But Cruz received just 31 percent of the non-white vote; Abbott netted 36 percent. Whites were only 56 percent of Texas’s voters in 2018. In 2014, whites were 66 percent, which explains Sen. John Cornyn’s 30-point victory. Liberal white transplants aren’t Texas’ problem.
Ditto for Georgia, another state attracting well-educated whites from Blue states. In the very competitive 2018 gubernatorial race, Republican Brian Kemp won 74 percent of the white vote, including 59 percent of college-educated whites. He earned a just 14 percent of the non-white vote. He was elected, narrowly, because white cast just 60 percent of the total vote. In 2014, Sen. David Perdue won his election by eight points when whites cast 64 percent of the votes. Perdue earned the same proportion of white votes as Kemp, but Kemp’s margin of victory was smaller because the non-white vote increased.
If white liberal transplants were the key factor in these states, then Tennessee should be a battleground. Nashville, after all, is one of the top destinations for well-educated whites. But Tennessee remains safely Republican. The 2018 Senate race between Republican Marsha Blackburn and moderate Democrat Phil Bredesen was supposed to be competitive. Yet Blackburn won by more than 10 points and secured 62 percent of the white vote. She did not do all that well among college-educated whites but did take a majority. That didn’t matter given that 82 percent of the vote was white. Williamson County, a suburb of Nashville, a wealthy suburb similar to Virginia’s Loudon County, is 85 percent non-Hispanic white.
An infusion of white liberals might make a state a toss-up, but it won’t turn it blue for a long time.
When or even whether Virginia Republicans will be ever be competitive again is an open question. But how to get there isn’t:
- Virginia GOP must increase its share of the white vote—in other words, some version of the Sailer Strategy. This election showed that me-tooism is not the answer.
- Ultimately, there must be an immigration slow-down, ideally a moratorium, if the GOP is to win—in Virginia, and nationally.
If the Virginia GOP wants to know the future, it should look to California. Opposing immigration restriction is like refusing treatment for cancer.
Both decisions are fatal.
Washington Watcher II [Email him] is an anonymous DC insider.