Outlook: Likely Democratic
There's no question that after the tea party revolt at the GOP convention brought in E.W. Jackson, the value of the Democratic nomination soared to incredible levels. A couple of weeks later, Senator Ralph Northam rode older voters to a victory over Aneesh Chopra.
The only way for Northam to lose this election to Jackson would have been for the candidates to be completely unknown to the public. Jackson figured this out after his awful launch and went into hiding over the summer and early fall as best as he could. Northam disappeared as well, and public polling in September showed Jackson running ahead of Ken Cuccinelli. If McAuliffe ran close, could Jackson win with him?
But in the last couple of weeks, Northam seems to have woken up and his voter communication is starting. His numbers have rebounded to match or exceed McAuliffe and he is now in total command of this campaign.
But after his 3 month sleepwalk, will Democrats want to nominate him for Governor in 2017? Northam will win LG, but he may have damaged his chances at the big prize in four years.