Dr. Larry Sabato said that a major legislative achievement would go a long way for Republican candidates in the midterm elections next year.
On the heels of Republican Ed Gillespie's nine-point defeat to Democrat Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam in the Virginia governor's race, Sabato said Republican candidates in closely-contested areas will need to energize Trump voters without using rhetoric that motivates Democrats.
He said one way to do that would be to go on the campaign trail touting tax reform and/or a bill to replace ObamaCare.
"A positive accomplishment would help. Pick one and then they can talk it about for months and Republicans would say, 'Hey, it's worth showing up to vote for them,'" said Sabato, director of the UVA Center for Politics.
Sabato said in Virginia yesterday, Northam capitalized on voters who were energized to make a statement against Trump.
"Turnout shot up but it was mainly Democratic turnout," he explained on "America's Newsroom."
Dear Pundit Friends, please stop attributing this D landslide in VA to "changing demographics". VA hasn't changed that much since last Nov. 8 (Hillary by 5%). The bigger explanation is a backlash to Trump and Trumpism, pure and simple. #VAGov
— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) November 8, 2017
He wrote on Twitter that the energy among Democrats is "a backlash to Trump and Trumpism, pure and simple."
Sabato said he now considers Virginia a light-blue state, not a purple state after Hillary Clinton defeated Trump by five points last year. In addition to Northam's victory, Democrats made big gains in the Virginia House of Delegates.
Earlier on the show, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said Virginia "is getting bluer and bluer." She said Northam gained traction in rural Virginia by vowing to work with President Trump and moderating his positions on sanctuary cities and Confederate statues.
Watch the analysis above and the interview with McDaniel below.