Huge Democratic turnout for Virginia governor primary is a bad sign for the GOP

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'You can put those 'questions about Dem enthusiasm' takes to bed,' said a Democratic congressional staffer.

In Tuesday's Democratic gubernatorial primary in Virginia, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe won the nomination for his old job with at least 301,811 votes. A month ago, Republican Glenn Youngkin won his party's nomination with just 10,318.

McAuliffe got about 62% of the more than 485,000 votes cast in the primary. The turnout was not far below the record 2017 Democratic total of 542,858 votes fueled by an anti-Donald Trump wave in the state.

"With some more votes to count, VA Dem turnout last night is edging closer to 500k, which would only be down about 10% from the extraordinary turnout we saw in 2017 (and way up from 2005, 2009, 2013, etc.)," observed Lowell Feld, a Democratic strategist and founder of the Blue Virginia blog, on the blog's Twitter account. "That bodes VERY well for Dems this November!"

"You can put those 'questions about Dem enthusiasm' takes to bed," agreed Aaron Fritschner, communications director for Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA).

The high Democratic turnout for McAuliffe and the Democrats is a stark contrast to last month's Republican nomination process. Rather than hold a primary, the state GOP opted to hold 40 unassembled caucuses across the state on May 8. Though more than 50,000 self-identified GOP voters registered to participate in that process, just 30,524 actually bothered to show up.

"The Republicans used a closed process relying on party insiders to choose their nominee at an in-person convention rather than having voting in a primary, and almost half of the people who registered as delegates for the convention didn't, uh, go," said Fritschner.

Youngkin, a wealthy businessman, was nominated with just 10,318 first-choice votes in the complicated voting process.

Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, tweeted Tuesday night that Democratic results were not what the Republicans had hoped for.

"GOP wanted (1) @TerryMcAuliffe embarrassed with under 50%. In fact he's topping 60%. (2) A low-turnout primary. No exact % yet but turnout is clearly NOT low," he observed.

Youngkin will face an uphill battle against McAuliffe in the Democratic-trending state. Donald Trump lost Virginia to Joe Biden by more than 10 points last November.

After Trump endorsed him last month, Youngkin said he was "honored" to have his backing.

Sabato has predicted that Trump's endorsement will be the kiss of death in the November general election.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.