Roanoke, Shenandoah Valley, Southwest, and the 23229 Zip Code Keeping Gillespie in the Race

Graphic credit: Virginia Public Access Project

According to Virginia Public Access Project data, Democratic candidate for governor Ralph Northam has raised 50% more money than Republican Ed Gillespie — and almost 30 times more than Libertarian Cliff Hyra. The map above shows the distribution of in-state dollars by region. (Drill down by region and you can see the contribution count broken down by zip code.) The in-state contributions are a better reflection of Virginia voter sentiment than money totals that include out-of-state dough.

As is readily visible from the map, the east-west divide is pronounced. The Roanoke region, Southwest Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley lean to Gillespie. The rest of the state leans to Northam. Look at the data by zip code, though, and the picture is less uniform. Here’s a map of the Richmond region.

I was surprised to see how dominant Northam is in the Richmond region, which has a reputation — decreasingly deserved with each election — of leaning Republican and conservative. But the map is somewhat deceptive. I checked out my zip code, 23229 (seen in the yellow circle), in western Henrico County. Not only is 23229 one of the biggest-donating zips in the state, it leans to Gillespie by a nine-to-one margin.

Inhabitants of my zip chipped in $1,260,000 to the Gillespie campaign, versus $125,000 for Northam. That’s one-quarter of Gillespie’s entire in-state campaign take — and more than that vast swath of red west of the Blue Ridge. Remarkably, as far as I know, Gillespie has never visited the district (unless he appeared at discrete fund-raisers in private homes). He’d be well advised to come and shake that money tree as hard as he can.

Update: And how many votes will these campaign expenditures buy? Well, it depends on how much the campaigns devote to advertising. And the effect of advertising is just about zero. Literally, zero. From am upcoming publication in the American Political Science Review by Joshua L. Kalla and David E. Broockman. “We argue that the best estimate of the effects of campaign contact and advertising on Americans’ candidates choices in general elections is zero. … A systematic meta-analysis of 40 field experiments estimates an average effect of zero in general elections.”

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5 responses to “Roanoke, Shenandoah Valley, Southwest, and the 23229 Zip Code Keeping Gillespie in the Race

  1. JB, your links to the interactive graphics don’t work; here is the link to the VPAP website where your graphics came from, so that readers can then “drill down” by region and zip code as you describe. https://www.vpap.org/offices/governor/contributions/

  2. Northam, on the surface, is a more attractive candidate. He’s a life long Virginian from the Eastern Shore. He’s a doctor and a former Army officer. He served two terms in the State Senate and is the sitting Lieutenant Governor. He is so well known for bipartisanship State Senate Republicans tried to convince him to switch sides. Northam even appeals to some Libertarians describing himself as “conservative on fiscal issues and liberal on social issues”.

    Gillespie is a transplant from the NorthEast (New Jersey) who migrated to the DC area to attend college at Catholic University (sound familiar?). He is a lifetime lobbyist and political insider. He has never held elected office but has been the chair of the Republican National Committee (again, sound familiar?). In the primaries both candidates faced more extreme opponents. Northam handily beat Perriello while Gillespie squeaked by Stewart (with Frank Wagner confusing the results by drawing 13%).

    Absent some fireworks from the Gillespie campaign Northam is going to win this election going away. Unfortunately for the Republicans, Gillespie seems to lack the temperament to launch the kind of fire and brimstone campaign that might beat Northam. Meanwhile, mild-mannered Northam is unlikely to make the kind of Olympic sized gaffes that could sink a campaign.

    Look for four more years of the Republican legislature passing bills that the Democratic governor will veto.

  3. What’s really revealing to me is that mediocre support Gillespie is receiving from Republicans…. financially and politically…

    He’s got this inane commercial about illegal immigration, crime and MS-13 that is obviously pointed at Trump folks but to this point, I do not see major Trump or Tea Party political supporters in evidence standing “shoulder-to-shoulder with “ED”.

    The other thing is healthcare and Red Virginia – Gillespie’s base. What is he telling the likely voters for him about how he thinks MedicAid and other health insurance should work in Virginia?

    Does he support the latest GOP idea that Medicaid should be turned over to Virginia to fund and operate?

  4. Six weeks is a long time in a statewide election. At this point, the only poll by an organization I trust (Mason Dixon) has it very close and that is also what I am sensing. Very polarized regionally. Ralph has led all along and is in a good place, but the closing arguments will matter, the turnout operations will matter, a big gaffe by one or the other will matter, and then there is the absolutely new and exciting wrinkle – what will President Trump tweet in the final few days? This is the 11th race for governor I’ve watched with professional interest, and that final X-factor is just fascinating.

  5. Jim, you must be neighbors with Tom Farrell and a bunch of Dominion execs!

    Just kidding.

    Well, sort of…..

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