September 30, 2021

Virginia Governor’s Race

“Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin clashed Tuesday evening over vaccinations, tax policy, education and their respective records in the second and final debate in Virginia’s closely watched gubernatorial election.” AP News

As of early Thursday morning, McAuliffe leads by 3.5 percent according to RealClearPolitics and 3.3 percent according to FiveThirtyEight. RealClearPolitics, FiveThirtyEight

See past issues

From the Left

The left criticizes Youngkin for aligning himself with former President Trump and worries about Democratic turnout.

Youngkin’s strategy seems straightforward: Avoid the most bombastic corners of Trump world—particularly the claim that the 2020 election was stolen—while playing footsie with it. Youngkin refused, for instance, to say during the gubernatorial primary whether Biden was a legitimate president and has promised an ‘election security task force’ that would essentially purge voter rolls. At the same time, he ran a campaign attempting to meld older GOP orthodoxy (tax cuts) and its newer varieties (he once uploaded four separate videos criticizing ‘critical race theory’ on the same day)…

“The play is cynical and transparent: Do just enough to convince the MAGA faithful that he is one of them without losing too much suburban support… In this sense, Youngkin represents a test for the political press. He is not a rabid Trumper, but he is willing to exploit unfounded claims of fraud in the 2020 election and has promised sweeping voter suppression efforts if elected. He may look like an older breed of Republican, but he’s making no secret about what his true priorities are.”
Alex Shephard, New Republic

“Youngkin opposes Virginia’s mask requirements in schools and has edged toward the most Trumpy GOP governors in suggesting support for state action to block local officials from implementing such requirements. And it gets worse: At a debate this week, Youngkin struggled mightily to explain why he supports requirements for other types of vaccines but not for covid

“This is a crucial point: Youngkin cannot admit that such stances are designed to pander to the obsessions of the Trump movement, as opposed to being shaped around a genuine public health rationale…

“A big question in our politics is whether Democrats will turn out to vote this year and during the 2022 midterms, now that Donald Trump has been ousted from the White House. What we’re seeing in Virginia suggests GOP radicalization against democracy and against public health measures may not be sufficiently motivating them.”
Greg Sargent, Washington Post

Regarding state legislative races, “Since 2017, [Virginia] Democrats have expanded Medicaid, raised the minimum wage, increased funding for child care, vastly expanded voting rights, including a 45-day early vote period, loosened draconian abortion restrictions, passed pay raises for teachers, state police and firefighters, and ratified the Equal Rights Amendment. Smaller-bore issues are equally impressive: They capped the price of insulin at $50 a month, and expanded workers compensation eligibility for first responders…

“So why all the worry? Some Virginia Democrats say that messaging isn’t coming across. ‘I run into people in my district who don’t know we expanded voting rights, don’t know we increased the minimum wage,’ [local candidate Finale Johnson] Norton says. Most campaigns say they’re having a tougher time finding volunteers… ‘Burnout is real,’ one campaign manager told me…

“Meanwhile, incumbents are having to spend time refuting outright lies. [Fredericksburg’s Joshua] Cole and Virginia Beach’s Alex Askew, both Black, have been hit by mailers claiming that they want to defund the police—when in fact, they voted to give state police an 8.5 percent pay raise.”
Joan Walsh, The Nation

Virginia has proven to be a good barometer of midterm elections. Over the last decade, the outcome in the House of Delegate races as a whole has correlated well with what occurred in the House of Representative races the following year. Democrats' popular vote margin in the House of Delegates in 2017 was nearly the same as it was in House races nationwide in 2018, for example…

“Democrats losing (or even coming close to losing) here in 2021 would suggest that they're doing so poorly nationally that they can't even win a state that has swung to the left. More specifically, a poor performance would indicate that the Democrats' improvements with a group they've been doing much better with recently, White voters with a college degree, isn't enough for them to win next year.”
Harry Enten, CNN

From the Right

The right criticizes McAuliffe for opposing parental choice in school curriculums and is cautiously optimistic about Youngkin.

The right criticizes McAuliffe for opposing parental choice in school curriculums and is cautiously optimistic about Youngkin.

“‘I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,’ McAuliffe said in response to Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin, who argued parents should be more involved in the decisions of local school districts. ‘I’m not going to let parents come into schools, and actually take books out, and make their own decision.’…

“Someone ought to remind McAuliffe that parents are the ones funding the public school system. Their taxpayer dollars pay for teachers’ salaries and school materials. Therefore, families have every right to weigh in on what public schools are doing with their money. The public school system works for the parents — not the other way around.”
Kaylee McGhee White, Washington Examiner

“If he had said that parents shouldn’t have absolute power over what schools teach (e.g., creationism in lieu of evolution), that would be one thing. For those who want total control over their kid’s education, homeschooling is an option. But he went much further than that. And he did so in the context of a sensitive subject, the degree to which sexually explicit material should be available to kids. Is that a gamechanger in Virginia? It wouldn’t take much to shake up a race this tight.”
Allahpundit, Hot Air

“Mr. Youngkin, a businessman, has campaigned for more parental choice in Virginia, one of the nation’s worst states for education competition. Virginia has only seven charter schools, and Mr. Youngkin wants to create 20 ‘innovation schools’ to ‘empower parents with educational choice.’ He’d like some pandemic funds to go for $500 vouchers for public-school families to use for ‘student education recovery.’…

“A report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools last week found that charter enrollment increased 7% nationwide during the pandemic. In Virginia it increased by 49 students—4% of the state’s total charter enrollment. Mr. Youngkin is trying to win back the suburbs for the GOP after the Trump -era losses, and it will be instructive to see if his campaign for parental control and choice pays off.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“McAuliffe has tried to tie Youngkin to former President Donald Trump’s denial of the results of the 2020 presidential election. But McAuliffe has spent nearly two decades claiming the 2000 presidential election was stolen from Democrat Al Gore, arguing the Supreme Court tampered with the results…

“At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, McAuliffe delivered a quote indistinguishable from Trump: ‘We actually won the last presidential election, folks, they stole the last presidential election.’ McAuliffe, as recently as 2017, asserted Gore actually won the 2000 election. Yet, he wants to accuse Youngkin of the very thing he has been guilty of for the better part of the last two decades.”
Zachary Faria, Washington Examiner

“McAuliffe retains a considerable advantage, but there is a reasonable if limited chance of an upset. That’s clear in the most recent useful poll of the race, out Monday from Monmouth University. The survey has McAuliffe up by 5 points—48 percent to 43 percent—with 7 percent undecided. This jibes with the university’s August poll and the rest of the surveys: Youngkin can close the gap, but needs to not only win bigly among the undecideds but also get them to the polls. Remember, the least likely ‘likely voter’ is probably one who can’t make up his or her mind…

“[According to the poll] Youngkin made big strides since August in the I-95 corridor through and around Richmond. Last month, McAuliffe was winning that swath of Central Virginia by a 10-point margin, which was similar to Northam’s actual performance four years ago. Now Youngkin leads there by 9 points. These are small sample sizes and outliers can play havoc, but the signs say that Youngkin has got to be zeroing in on suburbanites…

“McAuliffe knows that depressed Democratic turnout combined with just one nudge to the right in a couple of vote-rich Northern Virginia could turn the race into a squeaker.”
Andrew Egger and Chris Stirewalt, The Dispatch

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