Democrats Make Major Gains in Virginia State House
Virginia Democrats have picked up 10 House of Delegates seats and lead in seven more races, putting them within striking distance of taking the majority in the state legislature.
Democrats needed to flip 17 seats heading into Tuesday to retake the majority. And while the gubernatorial contest between Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie has dominated national attention, the 100 seats in the state’s House of Delegates could end up being the true bellwethers to gauge Democratic Party's strength ahead of the 2018 midterms.
Virginia House Democratic Leader David Toscano called the results “unprecedented,” noting that the last time Democrats won more than five seats in a single year was 1975. "This isn't a wave, this is a tsunami,” he told NBC News.
Alex Seitz-Wald contributed reporting from Fairfax, Virginia.
Northam Rebukes Trump Without Naming Him in Victory Speech
Virginia Gov.-Elect Ralph Northam condemned the president and promised unity in his victory speech on Tuesday night.
“Today, Virginia has told us to end the divisiveness, that we will not condone hatred and bigotry, and to end the politics that have torn this country apart,” the Democrat and former military doctor said. “In Virginia, it’s going to take a doctor to heal our differences, to bring unity to our people, and I’m here to let you know that the doctor is in.”
Virginia's gubernatorial race focused on many of the themes that Trump himself ran on, including crime and immigration, with opponent Ed Gillespie running ads that accused Northam of aiding criminal immigrants by casting a tie-breaking vote against a sanctuary city ban while lieutenant governor.
“We live in a very diverse society it is getting more diverse every day, it is that diverse society that makes this country great,” he said. “As governor, I will make sure that we will be inclusive — our doors will be open.”
Virginians Turned Out in Big Numbers Tuesday
Virginians turned out in large numbers Tuesday despite the rainy and cold weather that gripped parts of the state.
More than 2,500,000 votes had been counted as of 10:16 p.m. Tuesday. That total dwarfs turnout for the past two Virginia gubernatorial elections. 2,240,314 voters cast ballots in 2013, and 1,984,934 voted in 2009.
Democrats eagerly worked to mobilize voters in the state in an effort to repudiate President Donald Trump one year after his surprise election victory. Republicans were hopeful Virginia, which Hillary Clinton won in 2016, would deliver another surprise blow to Democrats.
Maine Votes to Expand Medicaid, Flouting GOP
Mainers voted to expand access to Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported, overruling Republican Gov. Paul LePage.
The ballot measure will give an estimated 80,000 low-income Mainers access to health care. It also offers an important test of the health care law's popularity amid efforts of President Donald Trump and other GOP leaders to dismantle it.
Maine is one of 19 states whose Republican leadership declined to expand access to Medicaid under Obamacare. Maine is the first to use a ballot initiative to expand it anyway, after LePage vetoed five attempts by the state’s legislature to expand the program.
Maine's ballot initiative could be the first of many: Advocates have filed paperwork to try and get initiatives on the ballot in Idaho and Utah in 2018.
Sources: Ed Gillespie Has Called Ralph Northam to Concede
Republican Ed Gillespie has called Democrat Ralph Northam to concede, two sources familiar with the call said Tuesday night.
Northam defeated Gillespie in the Virginia governor's race, according to NBC News projections.
Democrats Celebrate Early Local Win in New Hampshire
The Democratic National Committee congratulated Democrat Joyce Craig for winning the Manchester, New Hampshire, mayoral race Tuesday, unseating Republican incumbent Mayor Ted Gatsas, who was running for his fifth term.
She will be the first ever woman to serve as mayor in Manchester.
"It’s time for a new era of economic vibrancy, and Mayor-elect Craig has what it takes to make it happen,” DNC Chair Tom Perez said in a statement emailed to reporters.
A Twitter account that appears to be Gatsas’ campaign tweeted a concession. “Congratulations to Mayor-elect @JoyceCraigNH and her team on a hard fought victory!” he wrote. The pair faced off in the same race in 2015, with Gatsas winning by just 64 votes, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Two More GOP Reps Say They Won't Run For Re-Election Next Year
Voting is still underway in most states in this year’s elections, but two Republican congressmen on Tuesday announced their decisions to not run for re-election next year.
Reps. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) and Ted Poe (R-Texas) both said Tuesday, in separate statements, that they would not run for re-election in 2018.
The pair are the latest GOP lawmakers to announce they won't seek re-election in 2018, following Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas), last week.
Bad Weather in Virginia Could Impact Results
FAIRFAX, Va. — A cold rain has blanketed much of Virginia Tuesday, which is generally seen as a bad sign for Democrats, since their voters tend to be less reliable in non-presidential elections.
“I’d prefer if it wasn’t raining,” Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe quipped at Democrat Ralph Northam’s election night party here. Studies have shown rain can depress turnout by as much as 1 percent, which can be critical in a close race, though other research has found the effect is only significant in non-competitive elections.
The only dry part of the state, McAuliffe noted, was Hampton Roads area, Northam’s home base and a key source of Democratic votes. And rain or not, reports suggest turnout is generally high in the Democratic stronghold of northern Virginia.
The Virginia Ad Wars
The advertisements running in the Virginia’s governor’s race between Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie have been dramatic, controversial, and — for many in the state — overwhelming. Here’s a breakdown from the ad tracking group Advertising Analytics LLC of who saw what.
The most run ad of the election was a Northam spot called “Enron Ed,” painting Gillespie as a Washington lobbyist intent on furthering President Donald Trump’s agenda. The ad ran 4,000 times since Sept. 21.
Gillespie’s most run ad was the infamous ad “Gang Violence,” which warned about the threat posed from the gang MS-13. That ran 1,900 times.
Both parties ramped up negative ad spending in the final two months of the campaign, Advertising Analytics found. And despite the attention given to the Latino Victory Fund ad featuring a pickup truck flying a Confederate flag chasing children, the ad only aired five times.
Virginia NAACP Warns of Effort to Send Voters to Wrong Polling Place
An NAACP chapter in northern Virginia is warning that voters there are receiving fraudulent phone calls attempting to direct people to incorrect polling places.
“It is vital that everyone knows these phone calls are fraudulent and are attempted voter suppression,” the Prince William County NAACP wrote in a Facebook post. The group said voter protection services has been notified.
Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump by more than 41,000 votes in Prince William County in 2016. Voters unsure of their polling place are encouraged to visit the Virginia Department of Elections website.
Poll: In ‘Trump Counties,’ More Say U.S. Is Worse Off Than Better Off
One year after Donald Trump’s shocking election upset, many Americans who live in the key counties that propelled him to victory remain unconvinced that the country is better off now that he’s in the White House, a new poll from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal shows.
The poll, which sampled residents of 438 counties that either flipped from voting Democratic in the 2012 presidential election to Republican in 2016, or saw a significant surge for Trump last year, found that a third — 32 percent — believe the country is better off now than it was before Trump became president.