They didn't win because Republicans ran poorly, either.
Gillespie, a lobbyist and stalwart of the Republican establishment, is a creature of the Washington swamp.
One explanation was conspicuous by its absence, however: money. When liberal or progressive groups contribute to a Democratic candidate, it's proof that the candidate's principled stand on important issues has earned the support of ordinary people who share his values. We're with Trump. We already made that choice.
Obama suffered particularly hard down-ballot.
Still, some observers caution not to look too much into the results - it could be more luck and current political climate than skillful Democratic outmaneuvering of Republicans.
And Republicans seem to be aiding their plan. We shared targeting data and coordinated on the creative and sequencing of our advertising. Second, the Constitution requires that legislative districts within a state be of roughly equal population.
An early string of Republican retirement announcements in competitive districts across Florida, New Jersey and Arizona adds to the GOP's challenge. Ditto North Carolina, which is teetering on the purple-to-blue edge as its once reliably conservative voter rolls are swamped by often government pensioned retirees hailing from New Jersey and New York.
The Democrats deserve the credit they've earned - they finally cracked the code on how to beat the normal off-year election ennui that tends to infect their party.
Another pro-Gillespie ad took aim at National Football League players who kneel in protest during the national anthem - a cohort that happens to be almost exclusively African-American.
Governor-elect Ralph Northam will face a very different situation.
Northam could be well-prepared for such an exigency.
This is America's real immigration problem, and the results have been easy to see. His soothing, mild-mannered personality - the antithesis of the flamboyant, glad-handing McAuliffe - might also help in building coalitions. We'll find out soon enough. "I grew up in the Reagan era".
Shannon Bream, host of "Fox News Tonight", similarly managed to bring up the firm behind the so-called Trump dossier that alleges ties between Trump's campaign and Russia, a document which played no part in Tuesday's elections.
Consider. Of all the delegate seats in the Virginia assembly allocated to Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties, the GOP can today claim only one. "The turnout boost for Democrats, and especially for progressive candidates, showed that dynamic".
Despite the Democratic nominee's pitch to white women, 51 percent went for Gillespie.
And whichever party responds best could shape the future of the country. By contrast, when the presidents approval rating was under 50 percent, the average seat loss was 37 seats.
"We are running against the policies of the Republicans in Congress", said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi yesterday. Chief among them: Medicaid expansion.
Most political observers are explaining the losses as a backlash against President Donald Trump. This is suddenly a live issue in Virginia again. "There is a wave building". "Now, having earned the huge honor of joining the house this year, it's going to be a major push for me, as well as many others". "We have to tie the Republicans to the Trump agenda, and then they will hold the Republican accountable".
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