All Eyes on Virginia, New Jersey in Political Races

"Several states across the country are in the spotlight this week as local elections are expected to measure the national political climate ahead of the 2018 elections," according to Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. "Arguably the nation's most high-profile election will be in Virginia, where President Trump's lukewarm support towards the Republican gubernatorial candidate has cast doubt over the political value of a presidential endorsement."

"In New Jersey, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy is expected to win with little trouble off the heels of Governor Chris Christie who will leave the office with record-low approval ratings. Ballots will also be cast on Tuesday to settle a debate regarding Medicaid expansion in Maine as well as one of the costliest elections in Washington State’s history.

In the Virginia elections, Democrats across the ballot are positioned to advance the party in the commonwealth. The Republican candidate for governor Ed Gillespie has struggled in the bluer regions of Northern Virginia and has thus been unenthusiastic about publicly seeking Trump’s support. According to Politico, this is the first election since the Nixon years that a president has not helped campaign in a Virginia governor race.

However, Vice President Mike Pence has publicly supported Gillespie, a political lobbyist whose campaign has leveraged social issues like Confederate statues, kneeling NFL athletes and the MS-13 gang. That said, a win by his Democratic opponent Ralph Northam, the current Lt. Gov. of Virginia, would demonstrate the ineffectiveness of this type of rhetoric, according to analysts.

'Three months ago Virginia was the site of a deadly clash between its racial past and attempts to build a more progressive future,' said Dr. Khalilah L. Brown-Dean, associate professor of political science at Quinnipiac University. 'This election is a test of whether those who condemned what happened in Charlottesville are willing to cast their ballots in opposition to, or acceptance of the negative racialized rhetoric that has consumed the public sphere. Beyond the Commonwealth, Virginia’s gubernatorial election serves as a thermometer of the public’s broader mood on issues related to immigration, criminal justice, and the economy. Both national parties are focusing on Virginia to define its strategy for the 2018 midterms.'"

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Publication Date: 11/8/2017

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