In Virginia, voters by a 2-1 margin said they were casting their ballot to show opposition to Trump rather than support for him. In New Jersey the margin was 3-1. And Trump’s weak approval rating among voters in Virginia, 40 percent, was weaker still in New Jersey, a dismal 34 percent.
Relatedly, a surge in turnout by politically liberal voters boosted Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, as did a broad advantage on health care, which voters by a wide margin identified as the top issue in the vote.
The gap in the parties’ popularity was even more striking in New Jersey. And again turnout among liberals peaked, at its highest in New Jersey gubernatorial races since 1993. So did turnout among Democrats, who accounted for 44 percent of voters, vs. Republicans’ 28 percent.
VIRGINIA – In the bitterly fought Virginia race, 34 percent of voters in the network exit poll said they were voting to express opposition to Trump, vs. 16 percent who said they were voting to show him support. Gillespie prevailed among those who said the president wasn’t a factor, marking the anti-Trump vote as critical to Northam’s victory.
Northam won a remarkable 60 percent of women in the state – an even larger share than Clinton’s a year ago - vs. 48 percent of men. He won even more voters under age 30, 67 percent, as well as six in 10 of those age 30 to 44.
Gillespie prevailed on at least one issue: Virginia voters by 57-39 percent said Confederate statues in the state should be left in place, and he won by a wide margin among those who held that view. But Northam led in trust to handle race relations overall. And, perhaps above, all, the anti-Trump tide turned his way.
NEW JERSEY – In New Jersey, the unpopularity of not one but two fellow Republicans doomed Kim Guadagno’s bid for governor: Trump and Gov. Chris Christie alike.
Twenty-eight percent of the state’s voters said they were seeking to express opposition to Trump, nearly three times as many as said they were voting to support him, 11 percent. Given an even split among voters who called Trump a non-issue, the president’s unpopularity was central to Democrat Phil Murphy’s support, as it was for Northam in Virginia.
Christie, for his part, received a strikingly dismal 21 percent approval rating from his state’s voters. And 51 percent said they thought worse of Guadagno, his lieutenant governor, because of her association with him. A mere 4 percent said it made them think better of her.
In a striking turn in the Democrats’ direction, independents in New Jersey favored Murphy over Guadagno, 51-44 percent, after backing Christie by a vast 34-point margin four years ago. And while three in 10 voters overall cited property taxes – a frequent Guadagno talking point – as their central issue, even more said corruption in government was the main issue in their vote, and two in 10 picked health care. Both were strong issues for Murphy.