Memo on the 2017 Election Night Victories

November 10, 2017

From: Charlie Kelly, Executive Director for the House Majority PAC

To: Interested Parties

Date: November 10, 2017

Subject: Democrats on Offense

The election results from Tuesday night have House Republicans panicking, and it clearly shows the momentum that House Democrats have going into next year’s midterm elections. Across the country, we saw a surge of participation from voters soundly rejecting Donald Trump and Paul Ryan’s toxic policies that aim to please the ultra-rich at the expense of the middle class.

Republicans in competitive districts are already retiring, including the most recent announcement from Frank LoBiondo who saw the writing on the wall before the election results were even in. These GOP House members know that they will not be able to run and win with the grassroots energy organized against them and the toxic agenda that they’re pushing.  

NJ & VA Governor Races:

Both Governors-Elect Ralph Northam and Phil Murphy won by overwhelming margins. They promoted an economic framework that lifts up the middle class, giving everyone the opportunity to succeed and embracing our shared ideals. This was a stark contrast to their Republican opponents, who doubled down on the extreme and divisive GOP agenda.

VA Victory:

Virginia’s Ralph Northam won by an impressive margin, beating Ed Gillespie by over 231,000 votes. In fact, Northam outperformed Hillary Clinton and Terry McAuliffe. 

It’s clear from the numbers below that Northam benefited from a surge in turnout. In fact, Northam over performed in the Virginia suburbs and exurban areas, and Donald Trump was a big motivating factor with six out of 10 voters disapproving of the job the president is doing.

Northam also outperformed Hillary Clinton among nearly all demographics. He won non-college voters including non-college whites by several points more than Clinton. Northam also outperformed Clinton among independent voters by more than 4 points. Additionally, he received more votes from all income levels. While Clinton lost to Trump among those where family incomes were between $50K – $100K in VA last cycle, Northam won that group by 16 percent.

The numbers don’t lie. The voters in the suburbs and the exurban areas of Virginia are soundly rejecting Donald Trump and Paul Ryan’s horrendous agenda, from healthcare to the economy, to taxes. In fact, healthcare was the leading issue, with 67 percent of voters citing it as the most important or a very important issue, according to a new PPP poll, and Gillespie’s support of the GOP healthcare plan hurt him at the polls.

Statewide Vote Count Comparison:

County Vote Count Comparison

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What it Means for VA Congressional Races:

In numerous VA Congressional Districts, Northam outperformed both Clinton and McAuliffe. In VA-02, Northam won the district by 4 percent while Clinton lost the district by 3.4 percent, equaling a 7.4 percent swing. This district, currently held by Republican Scott Taylor, has a large military presence and is anchored in Virginia’s largest city – Virginia Beach – a locality that generally performs well for Republicans. Making up approximately 70 percent of VA-02, Virginia Beach gave Cuccinelli and Trump victories in 2013 and 2016. In fact, Gillespie beat Senator Warner in Virginia Beach in 2014 by 5 percent. Given the large swing for Northam, Democrats should be very excited about their opportunity in defeating Republican Scott Taylor in 2018. 

In VA-10, a district that stretches from the Fairfax and Prince William suburbs across Loudoun into rural Clarke and Frederick and the city of Winchester, Northam won by a bigger margin than Clinton in 2016. With a surge in turnout for a governor’s race, Northam won the district by nearly 13 percent besting Clinton’s performance who won it by 9.8 percent in 2016.  Not only did Northam outperform 2016, but he beat McAuliffe’s margin in Loudoun County by nearly 10 percent. The results in VA-10 present real challenges for Republican Barbara Comstock – especially the increased performance in fast growing communities like Loudoun where increased diversity and population shifts make this a ripe target for Democrats.

And in VA-07, Eric Cantor’s old seat now represented by Tea Party darling Dave Brat, Northam narrowly lost. Stretching from the Richmond suburbs heading north to Culpepper, this district was created as a completely safe GOP seat for Cantor. However, Northam only narrowly lost the district, showing the true power of the grassroots and the fact that the GOP’s failed agenda is truly toxic even in a very red region of the state.  While Democrats are unlikely to win in VA-07, a strong showing demonstrates the real shift in the environment. 

It’s painfully obvious that Scott Taylor (VA-02) and Barbara Comstock (VA-10) are in trouble. Their constituents sent a clear message when they voted for Ralph Northam for Governor that they wanted elected officials who will stand up for Virginian families, not the wealthy and special interests. These members of Congress don’t stand a chance of outrunning this toxic GOP agenda that Trump and Ryan are pushing. 

VA House of Delegates:

Tuesday night was one of the biggest election night victories in Virginia’s history – netted at least 15 seats. As powerful a message as the statewide races were, down ballot races were equally important with Democrats making substantial gains in the Virginia House of Delegates in districts across the Commonwealth, and there is still a chance that we take back the chamber.

Before Tuesday, Democrats held 34 seats while Republicans held a majority of 66 seats in the House of Delegates. Democrats were able to close this gap by focusing on a big recruitment effort and fielding strong candidates in 54 of the 66 GOP held seats. 

The victories in the House of Delegates show just how real the grassroots enthusiasm is. It also proves that casting a wide net, fielding good candidates and running on a strong middle-class agenda can and will be a winning strategy.

NJ Victory:

In a state where Donald Trump’s surrogate Chris Christie was wildly unpopular, with historically low approval numbers in the teens, voters soundly rejected the GOP candidate, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. In fact, Phil Murphy won by 276,390 votes.

Final vote count:

  • Phil Murphy:  1,154,978 votes
  • Kim Guadagno: 878,588 votes

What it means for NJ Congressional Races:

Governor-Elect Phil Murphy ran a positive, jobs-focused campaign that resonated with New Jersey families and was in stark contrast to Kim Guadagno’s negative message. Voters across New Jersey enthusiastically responded to Murphy’s economic message.

The results should worry Leonard Lance (NJ-07) and Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11), who have aligned themselves with Trump and Paul Ryan’s agenda. It’s clear that Frelinghuysen hasn’t been representing his moderate constituents with his votes in favor of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), and the budget resolution where he went on record supporting a tax increase for the middle class. These votes will be problematic come next November when he runs for re-election in a seat that partially includes Essex County, a place where Murphy bested Clinton by 3 pointson Tuesday night. Lance will also face a tough re-election, attempting to outrun the horrendous agenda that his party is pushing, as this is a district that Clinton won. Both of these seats are good pick up opportunities, particularly with the strong Democratic candidates that are running.

Additionally, Frank LoBiondo’s retirement leaves NJ-02 as an open seat that is a ripe Democratic pick up, a fact that’s highlighted in the election results. Both Gloucester and Atlantic Counties, which are partially and fully contained in NJ-02 respectively, saw significant swings towards Democrats from 2016—Gloucester by 13 points and Atlantic by 3 points. Tuesday’s results certainly bode well for Democrats in New Jersey and show that a strong and positive jobs message truly resonates with voters.

ME Medicaid Expansion:

The House GOP voted for a horrendous healthcare plan that increased costs, stripped coverage from millions, made deep cuts to Medicaid and gutted protections for people with pre-existing conditions. This attempt to sabotage our healthcare system, drew grassroots opposition all over the country, including in Maine.

At the polls on Tuesday, Mainers made their voices heard loud and clear, as they voted resoundingly for a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid. Statewide the initiative won by 18 percent, and towns like Bangor and Lewiston, which are in Bruce Poliquin’s Congressional District, voted for the expansion as well.

What it Means for ME-02:

This doesn’t bode well for Bruce Poliquin. In May, he took the unforgivable AHCA vote, despite the protests his constituents held. His constituents care deeply about having access to affordable, quality healthcare, and they showed that with their votes for Medicaid expansion. You can bet that they’ll hold him accountable for his horrendous vote next November.  

Long Island, NY:

Democrats pulled off an upset in Nassau County, traditionally a GOP stronghold. Democrat Laura Curran, the first woman, became a Nassau County executive and Laura Gillen became Hempstead Town supervisor, a seat Democrats haven’t won in a century. The Democrats were propelled to victory because of several factors including the Nassau County Republican Party being plagued with corruption, a divisive national GOP agenda as well as a surge of Democratic participation and grassroots energy that the county hasn’t seen before.


Democrats won from coast to coast on Tuesday night. There was a surge in participation that is rarely seen in off year elections. 

Republicans are and should be panicking. They’re pushing a failed agenda that hurts hardworking Americans while the Democrats are offering up an important alternative—an agenda with a strong appeal that’s focuses on lifting up the middle class.