Election 2019 Virginia

Asher Artis, 3, waits for his grandfather, Keith Smith, to finish filling out his ballot in Norfolk, Virginia, on Nov. 5. — Sarah Holm/The Virginian-Pilot via AP

Last week’s state elections sent a clear message to the Republican Party.

The message: Democrats could beat President Donald Trump next November and make major gains in Congress if voters continue to vote as they did in the Nov. 5 off-year election and in the midterm elections in 2018.

The election was partly a referendumw on Trump’s conduct and GOP policies. The results confirm that the suburban revolt against Trump and the GOP is growing.

Just outsidwe Philadelphia, Democrats took control of Delaware County’s five-member council for the first time since the Civil War and elected a Democrat as district attorney. In Chester County, Democrats beat two Republican incumbents on the board of commissioners to seize the majority for the first time ever.

The GOP also struggled in states where they had a stronghold on power.

In Kentucky, Trump and his allies failed in their attempt to rescue embattled Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. Bevin trails Democrat Andy Beshear in a state Trump won by nearly 30 percentage points in 2016. Beshear leads Bevin by a narrow margin. Bevin has formally requested a recanvass of vote totals.

In Virginia, Republicans lost control of both houses of the legislature for the first time in a generation.

Embattled Republicans ran away from Trump, downplayed their support for his policies and encouraged him to stay away. In the end, it was not enough.

In Virginia, suburban voters turned out in large numbers to back Democratic candidates, continuing a pattern of once Republican-friendly suburbs turning blue. For Democrats, this is the third election in a row in which they made significant gains since Trump was elected.

“I’m here to officially declare today, November 5, 2019, that Virginia is officially blue,” Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam told a crowd of supporters in Richmond.

Virginia was the only one of four states with legislative elections this year where control of the statehouse was up for grabs. Republicans had slim majorities in both the state House and Senate.

Since Trump’s election three years ago, Democrats in Virginia have won every statewide contest, picked up three additional congressional seats and now are set to control both the state House and the Executive Mansion for the first time since 1994.

Republicans appear to be wrong on the issues.

Democrats focused on gun control during the election, saying Republicans should be held accountable for failing to pass new restrictions after a mass shooting in Virginia Beach earlier this year.

Democrats have pledged to pass an agenda that Republicans have blocked for years including stricter gun laws and a higher minimum wage.

While Republicans continue to do well with white rural voters, last Tuesday’s results confirm that GOP support in once reliable suburbs is collapsing.

There is little doubt that last week’s state elections are a warning to Republicans across the nation a year out from the 2020 election: Sticking with Trump could lead to their political peril and a growing number of voters are rejecting their policies.

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