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■ Cover Story: POLITICAL ROUNDTABLE


Panelists participating in the political roundtable included: (from left) Stephen Farnsworth, Jeff Schapiro, Ben Dendy, Whitt Clement and Chris Saxman.


The day after H


ow did Donald Trump win the White House? On the day after the


election, five Virginia politi-


cal observers offered their perspectives on the Republican billionaire’s stunning victory. Most polls leading up to the elec- tion had predicted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would win. “The mechanics of polling are really


changing rapidly” because of the wide- spread use of cell phones, said panelist Stephen Farnsworth, a professor of political science and director of the Cen- ter for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington. The university’s poll showed a much closer race in Virginia than many other surveys did.


In assessing Trump’s victory, another


panelist, Whitt Clement, cited the candidate’s skillful use of trade issues. Clement, head of the state government


30 JANUARY 2017


Virginia political pundits unearth trends in Trump’s victory


relations practice group at Hunton & Williams LLP in Richmond, said the big jump in Obamacare premiums announced late in the campaign also had an effect on the outcome. “My gosh, what better issue do you need to seal the deal for Donald Trump,” he said. Panelists also believe that the FBI


investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server and the release of Demo- cratic Party emails through WikiLeaks also had an influence on the election. “There was just a constant flow of this information that overall had a huge impact,” said Ben Dendy, president of the Richmond-based government relations firm Vectre Corp. The panelists also looked at effects


the national election could have on U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, who was Clinton’s running mate, and the 2017 gubernatorial election. “Kaine, having been elected to the


Senate under ideal conditions, in a presi- dential year in which he ran ahead of Barack Obama in Virginia, is now look- ing at the most perilous conditions under which he’ll have to defend that Senate seat,” said Jeff Schapiro, the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s political columnist. The panel’s outlook for the upcom-


ing General Assembly session was succinct. In a legislative election year, lawmakers’ priority will be “passing the budget and going home. That’s it,” said Chris Saxman, the executive director of Virginia FREE (Virginia Foundation for Research and Economic Education). “They’re going to be in and out.” The Virginia Business moderators


were Managing Editor Paula Squires and Senior Editor Jessica Sabbath. The discussion took place at a luncheon attended by about 60 people at the Omni Richmond Hotel. The following is an edited transcript.


Photo by Rick DeBerry


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