Election results tend to launch a thousand takes, but one take you'll almost never see is that one of the candidates spent too much time talking about the economy.
This is not that take.
Republican Ed Gillespie lost Virginia's gubernatorial election Tuesday to Democrat Ralph Northam. Of course, President Trump quickly jumped into blame-game with everyone else.
Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 8, 2017
To Trump's credit, he did only lose Virginia by 5 percentage points, while Gillespie seems set to lose it by 9 points. And Gillespie, it appears, didn't learn the right lesson from 2016: It's still the economy, stupid.
Many factors combined to put Trump in the White House, but perhaps the biggest was his focus on telling voters what he was going to do for them. Trump's focus, against Hillary Clinton's "I'm-not-Trump" campaign, was enough to score Trump the upset in battleground states. In Trump's words, it was about putting the unemployed back to work, raising wages, fixing bad trade deals, and building the wall to keep the country secure.
Gillespie saw that last bit and ran with it while not focusing enough on the rest of the equation. This was an error, especially with Northam trying way to hard to connect Gillespie with Trump rather than campaigning on what he was going to do for voters.
If one ad or position defined Gillespie, it was an ad where he played up the threat of the MS-13 gang and blamed Ralph Northam for voting in favor of sanctuary cities.
Anyone who lives in northern Virginia can tell you that you couldn't watch TV for more than a few minutes in the last month without seeing that ad. When impressionable voters thought of Gillespie, it was probably the first thing that came to mind.
Of course, no one in Virginia wants MS-13 around. But when the fundamentals are against you, and your opponent isn't focusing on the issues, you can score an upset if you focus on telling voters how you're going to make them economically better off.
Gillespie didn't do that, and now he's an embarrassing 0 for 2 in statewide races.