As many of my friend know while I can be very partisan, I can also go neutral and take a hard look at election data through the lens of my background in politics and history.
The primary election this past Tuesday was utterly fascinating. I have spent a better part of the last 48 hours coming the election results.
I made the statement yesterday in another post that Populism can be both liberal and conservative. That certainly was the case in this election. Tom Perriello ran as the liberal populists against the establishment candidate Ralph Northam. Corey Stewart, ran as the conservative populists against the establishment candidates Ed Gillespie and Frank Wagner. While both the establishment candidates won Northam handily (56% of the vote), Gillespie barely won (44% of the vote). Gillespie’s close call can be attributed to the candidacy of Frank Wagner who won 14% of the vote.
More intriguing was the turnout with the Democratic candidate’s vote total being 177,078 votes greater than the Republican. Primaries have historically been low turnout events, the fact that Democrats got 500K voters to go to the polls is noteworthy.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the election was where Perriello and Stewart ran the strongest. If you drew a line from Washington to Richmond and then angled it towards the Virginia-North Carolina border vicinity the Dismal Swamp everything West and Southwest of that line was the localities where Perriello and Stewart won. As you will see in the following breakdown that is some deviation from this norm but are easily explained.
Perriello and Stewart together won 42 localities in Virginia, either Perriello or Stewart won another 43 localities, and the establishment candidates won 47 localities. Perriello won a total of 59 localities and Stewart won 68. This should be a wakeup call to both parties that while they can win elections with just votes from the Northern Virginia-Richmond-Tidewater Corridor but to govern they need to have wider appeal. Most shocking neither establishment candidate Northum or Gillespie together won any locality in Southwest Virginia; in every locality the vote was split between one or the other establishment candidates and either Perriello or Stewart or was won outright by Perriello and Stewart.
|Eastern Shore||0||0||2||Ralph Northam Territory|
|Northern Va||1||3||6||Corey Stewart carried Prince William, Manassas, and Manassas Park as he is Chair PW Board of Supervisors|
|Tidewater||0||3||14||Need to determine why New Kent, Charles City, and Surry wet for Stewart.|
|Western||18||15||3||Need to determine why Winchester, Wythe went establishment. Buena Vista has a long history of establishment Democrats.|
As it happens I am reading J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy while writing this. Mr. Vance’s story of his upbringing is very insightful. I was particularly struck by this passage:
“The Pew Economic Mobility Project studied how Americans evaluated their chance at economic betterment, and what they found was shocking. There is no group of Americans more pessimistic than working-class whites. Well over half of blacks, Latinos, and college-educated whites expect that their children will fare better economically than they have. Among working-class, only 44 percent share that expectation. Even more surprising, 42 percent of working-class whites—by far the highest number in the survey—report that their lives are less economically successful than those of their parents’.” (Note: emphasis added).
My only comment, regardless of whom you are supporting in the election, the numbers tell me that the two candidates better think long and hard about their platform. People are suffering, the people J. D. Vance talked about are found in Central, Southside, Southwest, and Western Virginia. While you can win elections by getting the most votes in the Washington, Richmond, Tidewater corridor can you effectively govern if you don’t hear the cries of the parts of Virginia that look like what J. D. Vance described in Hillbilly Elegy.