The current gubernatorial race in Virginia is leading up to be a decisive win for Democrats. The race between Democratic candidate Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie is being divided by trump. According to a new poll, President Trump is creating a rift between voters in Virginia. Nearly 30% of voters said that the president is a major concern for casting their vote.

Trump is eroding GOP votes

President Trump’s approval rating has continued to fall over the past few months, and many pundits believe that the governor race in Virginia will help build the momentum Democrats need to take back Congress in the midterm elections.

Northam is moving into the final weeks with a five-point lead. A poll released by Monmouth University puts Gillespie well below the margin of error in some portions of the state. In Northwestern Virginia, Gillespie’s 17-point lead has dwindled to less than 8 points.

Is moderation key?

A troubling concern for both candidates is whether or not Trump will continue to divide their individual bases. Certainly, for the Democrats, Trump serves as a call to eliminate the GOP and Trump establishment from illegitimate liberal causes. Just as the GOP should be determined to sway the party back to center, and away from the more extremist viewpoints of the Freedom Caucus or Tea Party.

Trump's shadow

Northam is characteristically known to have worked across the aisle in his role as a state senator, which allows for his general appeal as a bipartisan do-gooder.

Gillespie is a well-known establishment politician having worked as counsel to the Bush administration as well as chairman of the National Republican Committee. Both candidates, however, are both cautiously moderate. Which brings the focus to the message that both parties are desperate to reach. How do candidates win elections with Trump casting shadows on all things politics?

Trump and the midterm elections

Both parties are facing concerns over their ability to pull off wins come November. But they both have dramatically different approaches. Democrats are poised to ride the anti-Trump tank into Washington as a vestige of their ideals and party credentials to secure their place after the disgraceful defeat of 2016.

Republicans seem to be on the fence about whether or not to even mention the elephant in the room. In some parts of the country, Trump still brings in large swaths of the electorate with a nationalistic focus on re-positioning America as “America first.” But each of the parties’ attempts to limit or exasperate Trump have had mixed effects. In the moderate Virginia gubernatorial race, where Democrat Northam once toted the idea of switching sides, the distinction between anti-Trump and just not mentioning Trump does not seem to be as stark a difference as it is in other parts of the country.

The middle line and party politics

Democrats have approached Trump with necessary caution. As a platform, being against the President as policy does little to define where the Democrats actually stand in the Trump era.

Conversely, as the GOP pulls away from the more extreme tenants of the Trump base, the question becomes whether or not they will still secure votes, or will the backlash for deserting the President be too severe?