Analyst: Va. Gov's race could be referendum on Trump

Two weeks to go, and it appears to be neck-and-neck in the race between Ed Gillespie and Ralph Northam for governor.

NORFOLK, Va,. (WVEC)--  Two weeks to go, and it appears to be neck-and-neck in the race between Ed Gillespie and Ralph Northam for governor.

It'll be the first time Virginians have voted in a general election since President Donald J. Trump lost this state by five percentage points last November, but won the overall contest and took the White House.

Old Dominion University Political Science Assistant Professor Ben Melusky says, this governor's race, being one of only two in the country along with the one in New Jersey, could be viewed as a referendum on the man whose name isn't even on the ballot: Trump.

"You are seeing among Northam voters, I think 80 or 90 percent say yes, Trump is playing into their factor," he said. "There is potential we could see large Democratic turnout which could swing the election very nicely in favor of the Democratic Party. It would be a bad day for Republicans."

Typically in Virginia, in off-year, non-presidential elections, turnout hovers around 40 percent, meaning a small number of people will be making big decisions.

In the last Governor's race in Virginia in 2013,  2.2  million people voted; that represented a 43 percent turnout.

For comparison, in last year's presidential election here, 3.3  million people voted; That represented a 72 percent turnout.

"It is disappointing," said Melusky. "I teach all of my students in state politics class that at the end of the day, state and local elections are where the bulk of the policies that affect you from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed, matters. And, if you are registered to vote, get out, make your voice heard."

As for the central race at hand, it's coming down to the wire for Gillespie and Northam.

The most recent Wason Center poll last week shows Northam with a four point lead, but that lead is within the survey's margin of error, meaning it could be a toss-up.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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