Ezra, who posts the bar graph seen above, finds “worrying signs” for Democrats in Virginia’s exit polls:
[T]he exit polls out of Virginia give Republicans some reason to cheer heading into the 2014 midterms. Though Virginia’s GOP chose a candidate who turned off moderate Republicans and motivated Democrats, and though the Democrats had vastly more money, the exit polls still showed the kind of demographic drift that could help Republicans make gains next year. … One cautionary note here is that exit polls, of course, are imprecise, and 2013′s exit poll has a margin of error of four percentage points — so some of these differences might just be noise. But some, like the age gap, aren’t, and all the movement is in the same direction — towards the Republicans. Remember, too, that the cold logic of statistical uncertainty means the Republican tilt could easily be sharper than these results indicate.
Nate Cohn is on the same page:
McAuliffe couldn’t win by a wide margin in all but ideal conditions. Most significantly, McAuliffe made few, if any, inroads into GOP territory. McAuliffe did as bad as President Obama in coal country and western Virginia, the exact sort of places where Democrats need to rebound to retake the House. In comparison, Tim Kaine won significant chunks of Republican-leaning terrain in 2005. That’s exactly what Democrats need to win back the House, and if a perfect storm couldn’t produce those gains, then there’s plenty of cause to question whether Democrats can retake the ground necessary to win the House in twelve months.
Sean Trende reads the Virginia numbers differently:
There was a bounce-back from 2009 lows, as expected, but the demographic shifts were probably about more than a bounce-back. To use racial crosstabs as an example, the 2012 electorate was 70 percent white, while the 2009 electorate was 78 percent white. The 2013 electorate was 72 percent white. Most of that difference came from increasing the African-American share of the electorate vis-à-vis 2009. This is probably the most encouraging data point for the Democrats for the night.
Meanwhile, Waldman resists reading too much into yesterday’s elections:
The point is, unless something truly spectacular occurred, the next year or two of American politics would play out exactly the same way no matter what happened in Virginia and New Jersey. You may have found one or both of them to be interesting races on their own terms. But if you’re going to make an argument about what’s going to happen in the future, you’ll have to do better than citing the explanatory power of these elections.