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The Great Blue Wave Of Virginia In 2017 Was Mostly Exaggerated

August 11, 2018

Photo: John Shinkle/POLITICO

On November 7, 2017, the Virginia Democrats took 15 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates and fell one seat shy of tying the House 50-50 each.

That same night, Ralph Northam (D-VA) won the Virginia governorship by 9 points, and in New Jersey, Phil Murphy (D-NJ) won the New Jersey governorship back from the Republicans. It was a night of pickups everywhere for the Democrats.

Democrat media and pundits were shouting at the top of their lungs that this was the first true sign of a blue wave. Even many Republican pundits were joining along with them, claiming doom for their own party at an inevitably growing blue wave.

But was it really an anti-Trump backlash?

Was it really even a blue wave at all that night on November 7th?

Upon further review, the ‘great blue wave’ of Virginia that night wasn’t even as much of a wave as it seemed on the surface. Out of all 15 of the districts the Democrats flipped in the House, 14 of the 15 were won by Clinton in 2016. Many of the districts flipped by Democrats were won by Clinton by double-digits as well. The one district that they flipped that was won by Trump, was only won by Trump 47-46, and had also been won by Obama in 2012. Hardly a solid Republican seat, to say the least.

As for the the Virginia governor’s race, Gillespie did underperform, losing by 9 points. However, this was solely on Gillespie. To put this in perspective, Jane Vogel and John Adams, who ran as the Republican candidates for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General both only lost by 5-7 points, by both straddling the line with conservatives and President Trump. For context, Trump lost Virginia by 5 points-so this was in line with him. It was only Gillespie that had no base for himself, and collapsed because of it.

Meanwhile in New Jersey, the Democrats won back the governorship in New Jersey by a 14-point margin. This was also called a ‘wave’. Except, in reality, it was the exact same margin that Clinton carried New Jersey over Trump- by 14 points.

Here’s the main point: every single race the Democrats flipped that night was won by the exact margin that it was won by Clinton in 2016. They gained nothing.

So was this really a blue wave when all the Democrats could win was their own blue Clinton districts?

All of this means, they didn’t gain into Republican territory at all. They only took back their own blue-leaning seats that were already held by Republicans. You can call that a wave if you want, but if this November, all the Democrats do is take back their own blue seats held by Republicans, then this wouldn’t even be enough to take back the House. It’s time to face reality- Virginia is just simply a blue leaning state. It’s no longer a swing state anymore. But it’s also fools gold for Democrats to think they’ve swept a blue wave through there last November.