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Douglas Andrews / November 1, 2021

A Political Earthquake in Virginia?

A Republican gubernatorial win Tuesday in solidly blue Virginia would foretell disaster for the Democrats.

Could there be any sorrier excuse for a political party than today’s Democrats? Their standard-bearer, Joe Biden, is a pathetic laughingstock, their policies are both ruinous and resoundingly unpopular, and their brand is so deeply damaged that they’re on the verge of losing a gubernatorial election in a state that Biden carried last year by double digits.

Worse yet, they’ve become so panic-stricken about that Virginia election that they endorsed the dirty tricks of the Trump-deranged Lincoln Project, whose cofounder, John Weaver, was outed earlier this year as a child sexual predator, and whose sweaty-palmed leadership team — Steve Schmidt, Rick Wilson, and Reed Galen — is still on the job despite having been made aware in June 2020 of at least 10 specific allegations of sexual predation upon boys and young men by Weaver.

One would think that the Democrats, including their candidate for Virginia’s governorship, Terry McAuliffe, would steer clear of an operation as sleazy and depraved as the Lincoln Project. But one would be wrong.

“It started Friday,” writes the Wall Street Journal editorial board, “when a reporter for a local NBC affiliate tweeted a photo of four men and one woman dressed in white shirts, khakis and sunglasses and holding tiki torches. They were standing in front of Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin’s bus during a campaign stop in Virginia.”

These five false flaggers were disguising themselves as white supremacists in order to smear Youngkin by association. They failed. They were soon identified as Lincoln Project operatives, but not before Team McAuliffe had called the photo “disgusting and disqualifying,” and not before they’d slandered their surging opponent and every Virginian inclined to vote for him: “This is who Glenn Youngkin’s supporters are,” said McAuliffe spokesperson Christina Freundlich.

As dirty tricks go, it was a despicable bit of race baiting, one entirely befitting the party of Saul Alinsky. Ultimately, though, it might not matter. A Fox News poll released late last week had Youngkin ahead of McAuliffe 53% to 45%, just two weeks after the same poll had shown McAuliffe up 51% to 46%. Other polls showed a tighter race, but, as columnist Mollie Hemingway quipped: “More good news for Youngkin. The Washington Post famously claimed during election week last year that its polling showed Biden would win Wisconsin by 17 (!!!) points. (In the end, he won by 0.7 points.) So if they say McAuliffe is up by 1 … is he down by, what, 15 or 16?”

Interestingly, this most recent poll was taken just a day after former President Barack Obama came to Virginia to gaslight the state’s voters about the “phony, trumped-up culture wars, this fake outrage the right-wing media peddles to juice their ratings.”

One wonders whether Barack Obama would reconsider that “fake outrage” comment if it were his daughter who’d been raped by a “transgender” male in a high school bathroom.

But there’s much more at stake here than which party controls a single state’s governor’s mansion. This is Virginia, where Republicans haven’t won a statewide election since 2009. A Youngkin win would be a political earthquake, and it’d be a grim harbinger of Democrat prospects in the 2022 midterms. In the near term, though, it may signal the beginning of the end of the Biden presidency. If he’s having this much difficulty convincing his colleagues to enact his agenda now, just imagine how tough it’ll be when Democrat self-preservationists weigh the pros and cons of siding with a president whose numbers keep getting worse.

Perhaps it might also mark the beginning of the end of the “permanent pandemic” in Virginia, an anti-scientific phobia that McAuliffe and his fellow Democrats have tried to exploit at every turn.

Two more things to consider: First, if Youngkin wins in solidly blue Virginia, it’ll be because the commonwealth’s voters disagreed with McAuliffe when he said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” And if that happens, it’ll cause swing-state Democrats to run away screaming from the pro-teacher, pro-school board, anti-parent messaging that cost this former Clinton bagman a return trip to the governor’s mansion.

And second, a McAuliffe loss will likely cause Democrats to think twice before inviting Joe Biden to campaign on their behalf next year. When he joined McAuliffe onstage last week, he looked both clueless and shameless: clueless when he said, “We’re emerging from this pandemic. We want to expand pre-K for three- and four-year-olds — millions of pre-care students.” And shameless when he ridiculously compared the mild-mannered Youngkin to the January 6 rioters: “Extremism can come in many forms. It can come in the rage of a mob … driven to assault the Capitol. It can come in a smile and a fleece vest.”

He must think Virginia’s voters are idiots.

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