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What They’re Saying: In Virginia ‘The Energy is Very Clearly on Northam’s Side’

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Tuesday’s election results in the Virginia gubernatorial primary leave no doubt: Ed Gillespie heads into the general election a weak candidate with a deeply divided Republican party behind him, while Democrats are enthusiastic and unified behind nominee Ralph Northam.

The headlines and excerpts speak for themselves:

Big Problems for Gillespie

Washington Post: Democrats look unified, Republicans in disarray in wake of Va. gubernatorial primary

“Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam emerged from his unexpectedly tough campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor in good shape for the fall election. But Republican Ed Gillespie, who seemed to coast through the primary, suddenly looks damaged.”

Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin: If Virginia is a preview, the GOP’s in big trouble in the GA-6 and 2018 races

“Gillespie barely scraped by, but in sprinting to his right to beat Stewart, he risks doing much worse in Northern Virginia counties than he did in his surprisingly strong 2014 Senate race against Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). The loss of a chunk of voters in bigger population centers likely won’t be made up by downstate voters who picked Stewart in the primary, not believing that Gillespie was Trumpian enough.”

Politico: What we learned from the Virginia primary

“But Northam won easily and early, and it was Gillespie who barely squeaked out a win, sending fear through the heart of the Republican establishment that had written off Stewart early. The number of ballots cast stunned operatives on both sides: Democratic turnout skyrocketed, reaching nearly 170 percent more than the last time there was a contested primary in 2009. It all sets up a titanic battle for the governorship in November, with Northam now favored over a bruised Gillespie.

Slate: Virginia’s GOP Has Lost It

Gillespie’s weakness doesn’t bode well for November, when he faces an energized Democratic Party eager to strike a blow against President Trump.”

US News and World Report: Ed Gillespie’s Big-League Problem In Virginia

“The exceedingly close finish for the well-funded and better-known Gillespie immediately set off alarm bells among Republicans that the movement Trump unleashed and rode to the White House remains a vibrant force that’s yet to have been tamed. It also means that Gillespie will be compelled to court this rebellious faction, while at the same time attempting to appeal to the independent and swing voters necessary to clinch a statewide win in Virginia. It will not be an easy balancing act; some think it might be impossible.”

The New Republic: In Virginia, Democrats Win and Republicans Lose

And Stewart and Gillespie won’t be holding hands anytime soon. After it became clear he would lose the election, Stewart was defiant. ‘There is one word you will never hear from me, and that’s ‘unity,’’ he told supporters. ‘We’ve been backing down too long. We’ve been backing down too long in defense of our culture and our heritage and our country.’”

New York Times: Ed Gillespie and Ralph Northam Beat Upstarts in Virginia Governor Primaries

The surprisingly close Republican contest foreshadowed Mr. Gillespie’s quandary heading into the general election: how to handle a president who remains broadly popular on the right but is politically toxic among the broader electorate in Virginia, the only Southern state carried by Hillary Clinton.”

Democrats Enthusiastic and Unified Behind Northam

Politico: Maybe Democrats Aren’t Such a Hot Mess After All

Northam now enters the general election with a Democratic wind at his back. Approval for incumbent Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe is nearly double his disapproval. Democratic primary turnout set a Virginia gubernatorial primary turnout record, outpacing Republicans by about 177,000 voters. And the party’s base will be motivated to rebuke Trump.”

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Northam wins, buoyed for November by splintered GOP

“Coasting to a surprisingly easy win for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam heads into the fall election with an unexpected boost: Ed Gillespie’s difficult — and perhaps disputed — Republican victory, one viewed as fresh evidence of candidate-crippling discord within the GOP over President Donald Trump.”

The New Republic: In Virginia, Democrats Win and Republicans Lose

“Most importantly, the energy is very clearly on Northam’s side. Northam received nearly as many votes as were cast in the entire Republican primary, suggesting that Democrats have close to a two-to-one advantage with energized voters heading into the general election.”

Sabato’s Crystal Ball: Democrats Start With Edge in Virginia Gubernatorial Race

As the general election period begins, we’re moving the race from Toss-up to Leans Democratic. This is an election that Democrats should be able to nationalize with President Donald Trump in the White House in a state where Trump’s approval is low. Almost all state-level elected Democrats believed that Northam was a better fit for this statewide race than Perriello.”

US News and World Report: Ed Gillespie’s Big-League Problem In Virginia

Together, Gillespie and Stewart netted only about 12,000 more votes than Northam did alone, a gaping turnout disparity between the parties’ that indicates an enthusiasm gap.”

The Hill: 5 takeaways from the Virginia primaries

“Democrats made up nearly 60 percent of Tuesday’s primary turnout, according to Decision Desk. That’s a significant drop-off from Virginia’s 2016 presidential primary when Republicans made up 57 percent of the turnout. The turnout gap serves as good news for Democrats hoping to keep Republicans out of the governor’s mansion.”