Not long ago, Democrats were celebrating control over Virginia – boasting that they had turned this once deep-red state into solid-blue territory.
But Republicans may be about to crash the party.
“This is the week Democrats officially hit the panic button in Virginia,” Politico wrote in response to growing realization among the left that the state is slipping away as GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin pulls into a statistical tie with Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate and former governor of the Old Dominion.
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Even McAuliffe seems to recognize as much.
“Are we blowing this?” He wrote in an email to his supporters, according to Politico.
Fundraising emails are often designed to induce panic to get supporters to open their wallets.
But as Politico noted, “Democrats have been on the wrong end of an enthusiasm gap for their voters and are struggling to keep pace financially with a wealthy, self-funding GOP candidate who has already given his campaign more than $16 million.”
In other words, McAuliffe might indeed be blowing it.
The Washington Post said he’s even trying to distance himself from President Joe Biden, even admitting that he’s “unpopular” in the state (and everywhere else, for that matter, as his approval numbers continue to sink).
That’s a stunning fall for McAuliffe, who held a commanding lead over Youngkin as recently as August, when he had an eight-point edge, according to the FiveThirtyEight average.
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Now, it’s down to less than 3 points.
One poll in September even had Youngkin up by 5 points among likely voters, and the Cook Report – a nonpartisan group – has moved the once-safe race for Democrats into a tossup.
So Democrats have called in their big gun: former President Barack Obama is campaigning in the state in a last-ditch effort to save McAuliffe’s candidacy.
CNN analyst Stephen Collinson wrote that a Youngkin win in Virginia would be a “devastating blow” for the Democratic agenda not just in the state, but in Washington, where the entire Biden agenda could be thrown into doubt if Dems get a taste of what’s about to come at that ballot box in 2022.
“Pundits sometimes over-interpret individual races, trying to extrapolate from them the results of future elections elsewhere while ignoring their idiosyncrasies,” Collinson wrote. “But a Democratic defeat in what has become a reliably blue state over the last decade would be impossible to ignore and would cause political headaches for Democrats that reach beyond the Biden presidency.”
Ironically, Virginia played a similar role exactly four years ago.
In 2017 – the first year of the Trump presidency – fired-up Dems turned out in big numbers for Virginia’s elections, sweeping key races and providing the first indication of the looming “blue wave” election of 2018 that gave Democrats control over the House.
And in 2019, that same anti-Trump enthusiasm drove turnout in Virginia yet again, giving the Democrats a majority in the House of Delegates – and with it, control over both houses of the legislature and the governor’s mansion for the first time in a quarter of a century.
Now, the shoe is on the other foot.
Republicans could take the governorship and possibly other key races in Virginia, and even have the potential to reclaim the House of Delegates and restore some checks and balances in the state.
More importantly for the GOP, it would be a sign that next year’s midterm election could be a “wave” of another kind, giving Republicans control over the House and Senate once again.
And if history repeats, that could lead to an even bigger win for Republicans in 2024.
— Walter W. Murray is a reporter for The Horn News. He is an outspoken conservative and a survival expert.