This small sliver of Virginia is why Ralph Northam crushed his Republican opponent and did better than Hillary Clinton in 2016

Screenshot/New York Times2017 Virginia election map.
  • Southeast Virginia went big for Virginia’s Democratic Governor-elect Ralph Northam.
  • He had a much larger margin of victory than 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

One small — but populous — corner of Virginia helps show exactly where Democratic Governor-elect Ralph Northam was able to cement his victory in crushing Republican nominee Ed Gillespie and outperforming 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

In the state’s southeastern-most region, home to Virginia Beach and Norfolk, Northam performed significantly better than Clinton did in the 2016 presidential election, while Gillespie sunk below the numbers put up by President Donald Trump. It allowed Northam to win the state by roughly nine points, while Clinton won the Old Dominion by slightly more than five points last year.

In an off-year election, turnout does not measure up to that of a presidential contest. Vote percentages help better tell the story of where a party was able to improve or decline. And in the southeastern region, Northam was able to improve on Clinton’s percentages in a way he did not match elsewhere in the state.

For example, in Hampton, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Northam was able to improve on Clinton’s margin of victory by 6.6 points, 5.9 points, 5.4 points, and 5.4 points respectively. In Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, Northam was even able to flip places that went for Trump in 2016 and turn them into substantial victories for himself. In Virginia Beach, where Trump won by 3.6 points last fall, Northam pulled out a five-point victory. In Chesapeake, where Trump won by 1.3 points in 2016, Northam pulled out a 7.4 point win.

In the region as a whole, Northam was able to pull out a victory of more than 72,500 votes. One year prior, Clinton won the area by more than 71,000 votes. However, in 2016, an roughly 170,000 more voters cast ballots, making Northam’s victory more impressive.

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