Trump effect looms large over bellweather Virginia race

Trump effect looms large over bellweather Virginia race

For all the turbulence in US politics over the last 12 dramatic months, it appears opinion has barely changed. A hypothetical poll taken last week suggests a rematch between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would more or less produce a tie, with the Washington Post concluding the former would probably win again.

Considering all the troubles Trump has endured in the meantime, that makes grim reading for the Democrats and confirms a painful lesson learnt last November. That, no matter how much Trump alienates a majority of Americans, this President’s historically low approval ratings remain significantly lower than his potential vote share, especially if the Democrats can’t find a popular candidate of their own.

Tightening polls are fraying Democrat nerves

It would be unfair to compare Ralph Northam to the damaged, scandal-ridden Clinton, but the Democrat candidate to be the Next Governor of Virginia is similarly failing to inspire. From earlier estimates of a double-digit lead in a state that appeared to be inevitably shifting towards his party, Northam’s average lead is down to just 3.3%. Given that they have significantly undershot expectations in past Virginia contests, Democrats are right to be worried.

Tonight’s race offers a fascinating insight into the current state of US politics, and will be widely interpreted as a pointer towards future national contests. Nine of the last ten Virginia gubernatorial races here went against the White House incumbent, with Terry McAuliffe breaking the run under Obama last time.

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