Virginia Democrat Ralph Northam on the left and Republican Ed Gillespie on the right. (Photo: RVA Mag)

Virginia Governor’s Race: GovBrain Trend Analysis Has Candidates in Dead Heat

Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie are essentially tied, according to GovBrain’s Trend Meter analysis of the the Virginia gubernatorial contest. The candidates have traded the lead since GovBrain began covering the race on October 14. Northam has spent 11 days in the lead on the Trend Meter, while Gillespie has led for five days. The candidates are neck and neck on the Trend Meter now, but GovBrain gives Northam the edge since he has trended higher for more days. The election will be held on November 7.

GovBrain uses a patent-pending “Trend Meter” inside its machine learning and artificial intelligence system. The GovBrain system searches data from nearly 800 government, regulatory, and legislative sources along with political, financial, and technology news sites from around the world. The GovBrain trend meter is self-contained and does not incorporate analysis of social media, Google and Wikipedia searches, YouTube interactions, or polling data — its predictive signal is unique. To use the trend meter to begin tracking an election, one simply types the name of the candidate, clicks enter, and watches the results over time.

You can see how Gillespie started out ahead on the Trend Meter, but he gave up the lead to Northam on October 21. Northam had his largest lead on October 23, but then Gillespie began chipping away at the deficit and caught up to Northam on October 31.

Northam is Virginia’s lieutenant governor and Gillespie is the former chair of the Republican National Committee. Both are normally low-key personalities in style and substance, but they have engaged in trench warfare on the airwaves. Gillespie has tried to accuse Northam of being too soft on the transnational criminal gang MS-13. A Democrat group supporting Northam released a controversial ad that featured a truck with a confederate flag and Gillespie bumper sticker chasing a group of minority kids.

Money from outside groups has flooded into the state as the race is seen as a testing ground for U.S. Senate elections and other statewide contests around the country that are slated for 2018. Vice President Mike Pence has campaigned for Gillespie and Trump often tweets his support for the Republican ticket. Former President Barack Obama appeared at a Richmond rally for Northam in October.

Support for the candidates depends on geography. Democrats are strong in the densely-populated counties in Northern Virginia that are close to Washington, DC. Gillespie gets his conservative support from the more rural southwestern regions of the commonwealth.

Northam is a soft-spoken, moderate pediatric neurologist who seems like a safe choice in a state that Hillary Clinton won. Gillespie is known for being a tough underdog who finishes well. He barely lost to heavily-favored U.S. Senator Mark Warner in 2014.

Polling results for the race have been scattered. Northam has led by 17 points in some surveys while Gillespie has been up by 8. Average polling data compiled by RealClear Politics as of November 1 has Northam winning by 3.6 percent.

Gillespie has showed resiliency on the GovBrain Trend Meter. Northam has just not been able to put him away. Despite large pockets of conservatives, Virginia is a blue state with a sitting Democrat governor. President Trump has low approval ratings, so this should have been a much easier race for Northam. A close loss would be a heartbreaker for Gillespie, who came within a point of beating Senator Mark Warner. It will all come down to voter turnout which will be lower in this off-year election. That means whoever energizes the base the most and attracts undecided independents in the last 72 hours will win.

The race on the Trend Meter is extremely close, but GovBrain gives the advantage to Ralph Northam, since he has trended higher for more days. But Gillespie is a strong closer and he could still win in an upset that would worry a lot of national Democrats.

GovBrain uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to predict geopolitical events. The Washington, DC firm has predicted elections successfully in Japan, UK, Iran, South Korea, and France.