The race between Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe and Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin is in a legit dead-heat with less than one week to go until Election Day. Unfortunately for McAuliffe, the hits just keep on coming – happening at the worst possible time as his campaign continues to struggle to get back on solid footing after the catastrophic blunder he made last month when he admitted during a debate that “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
When last we left you with the former governor who wants a second non-consecutive term, former Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder – a Democrat and the only black governor in the state’s history – absolutely unloaded on McAuliffe during an interview with a local TV station, hitting him right where it hurts: black voters, who McAuliffe desperately needs to show up on Tuesday. Essentially, Wilder accused McAuliffe of using Gov. Ralph Northam’s embarrassing blackface scandal as a “springboard” to make a political comeback by appealing to black voters, who Wilder claimed in so many words were being shamelessly lied and pandered to by McAuliffe.
On top of Wilder’s blistering attack of McAuliffe yesterday was a surprising report from CBS News this week which highlighted how Youngkin was appealing to independent voters who had previously supported Democrats, another nightmare scenario for McAuliffe should other core Democrat constituencies fail to show up for him in the numbers needed for him to be victorious. Here’s what one of the independent voters who they talked to had to say:
Independent voter Kendra Lee is a prime example of why this race is so close. “I cried when Hillary Clinton lost,” Lee said. “If someone told me I’d ever be not considering voting for a Democrat I would have thought you were crazy, you were out of your mind.”
And yet, the mother of two voted for Republican Glenn Youngkin. After a year of virtual learning and now mask mandates in schools, she said she trusts him more with her kids’ education.
“I don’t think he would have as much governmental restrictions,” Lee said on Youngkin’s appeal. “I think that he would leave it more in terms of local control.”
When asked about the [vaccine and mask] mandates, Lee said, “I just feel like I know what’s best for my family better than a politician does.”
They also talked to a man who said he supported Biden but was leaning towards Youngkin, which he knew would send a message to Biden. That message?
“That there is some tepidness around the president’s agenda. There are a lot of concerns about the choices he’s made,” independent voter Robert Clarke told CBS News.
WOW: CBS Evening News actually had some favorable coverage of Republican Glenn Youngkin in the race for VA governor. Norah O'Donnell spoke with an independent voter who went for Hillary but was now with Youngkin. She also noted that Youngkin was winning with parents/on education pic.twitter.com/YJH4DQHxfk
— Nicholas Fondacaro (@NickFondacaro) October 25, 2021
That a national news outlet just gave the Republican in a race that is viewed as a big bellwether for 2022 favorable coverage is a pretty big deal and another nightmare for McAuliffe. Think about it. I mean, they’re supposed to be on his team, remember?
If there is indeed an eroding of support for McAuliffe among independent voters in Virginia, it would follow a national trend which has seen support for Joe Biden among independents plummet over the last several months as the failures and skewed priorities pile up in his administration.
With the race being as close as it is, and with frustrated black Democrats like Wilder chipping away at McAuliffe’s black support and independent voters who previously supported Democrats wavering – all coupled with McAuliffe continuing to stick his foot in his mouth on public education matters, the perfect storm is forming for a possible political “upset” next week that no one saw coming. Will it happen? I’m not into making predictions, but I will say I’m starting to feel good about things. Cautious optimism and all that.
That said, even if Youngkin loses, you can’t say he and his supporters didn’t put up a hell of a fight against McAuliffe. Even in races where Democrats are “supposed” to win, Republicans should never make it easy for them. Never. Make them work for it. That way, in the event they lose, they can show us who they really are in the weeks and months afterward by whining about it a la Hillary Clinton, whose bitter whineathons about 2016 never get old.