Don’t Look to the History Books to Predict This Year’s General Assembly Elections in Virginia

God, guns and gays — the three issues that have often sparked intense partisan battles in the Virginia General Assembly — haven’t had quite the same punch on the campaign trail in recent years.

That’s probably going to change this year, as groups such as the Human Rights Campaign and Everytown for Gun Safety are bringing their checkbooks and voter target lists to Virginia in an effort to sweep Democrats into control.

Are Virginia Republicans prepared for it?

They’ve generally tried to keep social issues off the front burner in recent years and have attempted to run a no-drama, kitchen-table-issues campaign this year.

It’s been hard for them to stick to that script.

Republicans have engaged in destructive infighting, nominated some troubling general election candidates and are waging a costly write-in campaign for an otherwise safe House seat all while carrying the already heavy burden of President Trump on their collective backs.

And let’s not forget how they smash their own thumbs, as Del. Christopher T. Head (R-Botetourt) recently did when he told a group of GOP activists about the plan to shut down the special session on guns and “neutralize the conversation” by punting the matter to the Virginia Crime Commission.

“We needed to make it go away,” Head said.

It’s own goals like this that almost make one feel sorry for Virginia Republicans.

But before we put the final flourishes on the eulogies to the once-formidable Virginia GOP, it’s important to recall a small bit of election history that indicates Republicans might tarry a while longer on the main stage.

First, let’s address the obvious: Trump is the single greatest get-out-the-vote tool Virginia Democrats have had in a generation.

They hope the president will deliver for them a third time this November, giving Democrats control of the House and Senate for the for the first time this century.

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