RICHMOND, Va. — Democrats have an almost delusional case of wishful thinking that relying on far left positions and Trump bashing will guarantee them sweeps in the 2018 midterm elections.


Senior Democrats are citing the decisive victories their candidates won in off-year gubernatorial races in Democratic New Jersey and Virginia as proof that largely running far to the left against President Donald Trump and his policies is a surefire way to win.


They would be wise to remember that politics is like a football: It isn’t round and it will take funny bounces when you least expect it.


First, lets examine the Virginia race.


Liberals and moderates went for Democrat Ralph Northam, helped by the strong support of women, African-Americans, younger voters and those who strongly disapprove of Trump.


However, other factors loomed large there. GOP candidate Ed Gillespie was a weak choice and had some enormous handicaps to overcome. If Gillespie gave a fireside chat, the fire would fall asleep.


Meanwhile, Virginia has turned solidly Democratic in recent decades, largely due to the enormous — and ever growing — number of federal bureaucrats and consultants in the huge parasite economy in Northern Virginia.


They love big government and Democrats happily provide it.


In addition, Gillespie had to overcome fierce and constant opposition from alt-left Washington Post and NBC and its affiliates, which combined have decisive election power in Virginia’s northern suburbs.


Here’s a sample from a typical Post editorial on Gillespie: “His campaign’s thrust has not been just a dog whistle to the intolerant, racially resentful parts of the Republican base; it’s been a mating call.” Much network coverage reflected that viewpoint, a huge problem in the super-heated and super-sensitive politics of 2017.


Meanwhile, let’s consider some election history independent of Trump.


In 2001, a year into President George W. Bush’s first term, Democrats took back the governorships in New Jersey and Virginia. Since 1862, the president’s party has averaged 32-seat losses in the House in the first midterms after his election. In 2010, Republicans gained 63 seats in the House, just two years after a huge Obama presidential victory.


Trump might kill the GOP’s chances for the next decade or longer. However, the GOP loss in Virginia doesn’t prove this scenario. There’s nothing rare or even unusual about cyclical pushbacks in politics.


If every election had the kind of major importance that pundits claim, we would be going through seismic ideological changes every year, which doesn’t happen.


In New Jersey, GOP Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno had little chance because her fortunes were closely tied to the most unpopular governor in America, Chris Christie, who had a voter approval rating of 14 percent.


Christie was wildly popular with his largely blue collar constituents until he developed a severe case of entitlement fever and tried to be American royalty.


What’s more, the state’s changing demographics also increased Democrat Phil Murphy’s chances of winning. In 2007, there were 200,000 more registered Democrats in New Jersey than Republicans. By 2017, there were 800,000 more Democrats, almost impossible odds to overcome.


Whitt Flora, an independent journalist, covered the White House for The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch and was chief congressional correspondent for Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine. Readers may write him at 319 Shagbark Rd., Middle River, Md. 21220.