Extra: What happened in Virginia?
The poll that matters is held on Election Day
Tonight, Democrat Terry McAuliffe lost to Republican Glenn Youngkin. The result is something of a surprise. That’s a great invitation to try out various “takes” on what happened.
The national Swing matters. All three statewide races had approximately the same partisan swing. Biden won 54% in 2020, and McAuliffe will win 49%. A 5-point swing (aka a 10-point margin swing) is about what should be expected, with Biden’s agenda being both unpopular and unimplemented. If the same swing holds nationally next year, Democrats will lose 4 Senate seats (and many House seats), and Biden will effectively be a lame-duck president.
Scandals matter. Let’s not forget that outgoing governor Ralph Northam had a high-profile scandal in 2019, featuring the surreal situation where his staff confirmed he was in an offensive picture, but was unable to specify whether he was in blackface or wearing a KKK outfit.1
Soon after, the lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, was accused of sexual assault; while he did not resign, his poor performance in this years gubernatorial primary (receiving under 5% of the vote) demonstrates that the voters did not approve. Perhaps, unlike the national press, Virginia voters did not forget.
Trump doesn’t matter. There have been various comments on Twitter of the sort “how can voters reward Republicans after the events of January 6th?”2 Part of the story is anti-Trump Republicans being willing to vote for Republicans who, while perhaps not vocally anti-Trump the way Liz Cheney is, are eager to distance themselves from Trump’s antics. While Twitter personalities may be able to keep up tenuous chains of guilt-by-association forever, the body politic will not.
Failing to govern matters. The months-long stage drama about the bill identified by its cost cannot possibly have helped matters. McAuliffe was vocal that he wanted to see real progress before the election. No matter what your political views, I don’t know how you can “support” what the Democrats in Washington DC have been doing over the past 3 months. Congress has tried little other than to pass “the Biden spending plan”, and has made no progress towards that. The only thing they have successfully done is complain3. This level of incompetence is rarely seen outside of Washington DC.
CRT and QAnon don’t matter. This has been a farce on Twitter. Liberals complain that conservatives who don’t know what CRT means are voting based on opposition to CRT. Then, those same liberals don’t know what QAnon means and are voting based on opposition to QAnon.
Emailing me nine times doesn’t help. In the last seven days before the election, I got no fewer than NINE emails from Terry McAuliffe, who rented Abby Finkenauer’s email list4. NINE. No competent strategist could possibly have thought this would help. Even if you assume that the list use was free (as the emails were “donate money to both of us”) it’s an insult to the intelligence of any voter.
As I’ve said before, if you treat your supporters like scum, they will unsubscribe. And then you can’t reach out to them. And if you assume the only thing supporters who sign up for your mailing list can do is “give money”, the campaign is already half lost.
So what next?
Yes, this is real. “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Friday acknowledged appearing in a “clearly racist and offensive” photograph in his 1984 medical school yearbook that shows a man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe. … Northam, 59, did not say whether he was the man dressed in blackface or the one in a Klan robe and hood.” - Washington Post, Feb. 1 2019
There are plenty of these; here’s one from a blue-check with over 150k followers:
Technically, a few Biden nominees have been confirmed by the Senate, and a “debt ceiling” interim measure passed.
I have said before that Abby Finkenauer’s mailing list management is so bad that I am going to oppose her in the IA-SEN primary based largely on that. Also because her website suggests there isn’t a single issue other than “Supporting Joe Biden” that she is running on.