Democracy Was the Real Winner of Tuesday’s Virginia Election
Democracy Was the Real Winner of Tuesday's Virginia Election
It seems the whole country is talking this morning about Virginia’s statewide election and whether the larger-than-expected victory of Democratic Gov.-elect Ralph Northam is a repudiation of President Trump and his brand of bare-knuckled politics.
Northam’s victory certainly cheered Democrats and chilled Republicans, but the biggest winner of the Virginia contest was democracy itself. As a cold rain swept across the state, a record number of people set aside their cynicism about politics and re-affirmed their faith in the system. Consider:
- Virginia voter turnout topped 2.6 million, highest-ever for a non-presidential year and up 256,000 from 2013.
- Northam’s 1.4 million-plus votes are the most ever cast for a gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, but the 1.17 million ballots for losing candidate Ed Gillespie make him the second-highest vote-getter ever in those contests.
- In losing, Gillespie got 103,000 MORE votes than departing Gov. Terry McAuliffe garnered in winning the state’s top office in 2013.
- Lt. Gov.-elect Justin Fairfax is only the second African-American elected to statewide office in Virginia.
- The 100-member Virginia House of Delegates will have at least 25 women, a record, when it convenes in January. They include Del.-elect Danica Roem, who will be the first openly transgender member of the legislature, as well as Del.-elect Kathy Tran, who will be the first Asian-American woman in the House, and Dels.-elect Haya Ayala and Elizabeth Guzman, who will be the first Latinas in the House.
The end result for Virginia will be a statehouse that looks more like the people it serves. That’s no guarantee it will produce better government of course, but it’s an encouraging sign.