Virginia is not being overemphasized by anybody.
The Democrats had a terrible day. The Democrats were so badly hurt that many liberal pundits said the party needed to reconsider its policies and message. With the prospect of the midterm elections undoubtedly grim,
Glenn Youngkin didn’t win as easily as the Atlanta Braves took the World Series, but his 3-point margin was comfortable in a commonwealth that Trump lost last year by 10 points.
As a longtime member of the all-politics-is-local school, the Virginia race was nationalized early on. The fact that Washington Democrats have spent months squabbling over how many trillions to throw at social problems and haven’t delivered a thing–even the easy infrastructure win–helped boost Youngkin to victory and turned New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s expected reelection into a nail-biter. (AP called it Murphy. President Biden’s underwater approval ratings were a drag on ex-governor Terry McAuliffe as well.
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Now I have to add that most national media types don’t really care about how Youngkin will do in Richmond. His role was pivotal in a proxy war that focused on how a Republican who is not dangerous could balance the Trump base’s interests with the appeal of former President Trump to other party members. Youngkin was able to pull it off partly by keeping Donald Trump from the state. Trump claimed credit in a statement.
McAuliffe spent a whole lot of time trying to depict Youngkin (a businessman who put $20 million of his own money into the race) as a Trump acolyte, which meant he didn’t have much of a positive message.
But what much of the media missed–or deliberately mischaracterized–was the role of the so-called culture wars. There was an effort to paint Youngkin as a book-banner because he backed bills (vetoed by McAuliffe) to let parents opt-out of having their kids read sexually explicit books (even though Toni Morrison’s won a Pulitzer Prize). McAuliffe tried this line on “Meet the Press” and Chuck Todd wasn’t having it.
But parental choice is a winning message, especially with McAuliffe on record as saying they shouldn’t make decisions for the schools. When combined with frustration over past school closures giving way to mask mandates, it’s a potent one.
What the woke wing of the Democratic Party fails to understand is that parents who aren’t happy with what their kids are being taught aren’t automatically racists. These parents have valid grievances. It wasn’t just about critical race theory, which isn’t taught in Virginia schools. While some left-leaning hosts and anchors still complain about the racist dog whistle used by right-wing media outlets, many journalists realize they have misjudged this issue.
Even CNN’s Van Jones, a former Obama White House official, says the Democrats are coming across as “annoying and offensive and seem out of touch.”
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You can see this as Biden losing his personal campaign for McAuliffe along with Kamala and Barack Obama. But it’s more of a reflection of Biden’s inability to break the suicidal stalemate on the Hill and his audacious overreach on the $3.5-trillion bill, now cut in half.
Democrats won the election and are stuck with the keys. They just don’t look like a governing party right now. Biden signed on to most of Bernie’s agenda, and it ain’t selling.
Youngkin, while he was a campaigner who won by 10 points in Trump’s state, was certainly attractive. He outpaced Trump’s margins in key rural and suburban counties and cut into McAuliffe’s margins in urbanized Northern Virginia.
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It has been a long-standing problem for Democrats in rural areas. However, they were defeated in Virginia by McAuliffe, according to exit polls. This is despite McAuliffe being 3-1 in the vote among whites who have not completed a college degree.
Some pundits are even saying it’s good for the GOP that Trump has been banned by Twitter. He told a radio interviewer yesterday, when asked about Fox News calling Virginia half an hour after CNN and MSNBC: “It’s probably because maybe they wanted a Democrat to win.” (It’s probably maybe because Fox didn’t want to be wrong. Didn’t you complain about Fox being first to call Arizona for Biden?)
Youngkin may have found the winning formula in this post-Trump age, something no one knew about a year before. What’s clear is that Democratic dysfunction is making that easier than the journalistic geniuses had expected.