While winning in conservative areas of the South has been difficult for Democrats in recent decades, the movement of droves of highly educated suburban voters away from Donald Trump-era Republicans is a shift significant enough to set the stage for potentially competitive races.
Count Republicans as highly skeptical. They’re quick to note how often they hear Democrats talk about a return to the region, and how seldom it works. They note that for all of Northam’s advantages, he still lost by large margins in Virginia’s rural areas that look more like the rest of the South than the suburban enclaves.
“I hope they spend $100 million trying to win the South,” said Haley Barbour, the former Mississippi governor and Republican National Committee chairman.