All of the major networks and the Associated Press have declared that Glenn Youngkin will be the next governor of Virginia. According to Politico, Youngkin currently leads by 2.7 percentage points. Terry McAuliffe’s un-concession speech made it all too obvious that he has controversial election attorney Marc Elias working on this even as you read. Will it work? Nope. Youngkin won the election conclusively. Virginia’s election officials will continue to count absentee ballots postmarked by election day, but an influx of Democratic votes sufficiently large to overturn the result is statistically improbable. There is no automatic recount in Virginia, and any loser contesting the election must show that the margin between the recount requester and the winning candidate is less than or equal to one percent of the total votes cast for the two candidates.
What lessons should the Democrats learn from the GOP victory?
In 2020, Biden carried Virginia by 10 points, and McAuliffe began the race with all the advantages associated with his status as former governor. His loss should have a profound impact inside the Beltway. It should cause moderate congressional Democrats to run from the $1.75 trillion “Build Back Better” reconciliation package. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-Wv.) is already balking on that, despite the antics of House progressives. The election of a GOP governor in Virginia will render him even less interested in voting for this irresponsible boondoggle. But will Youngkin’s victory wake up the rest of the congressional Democrats to the very real peril they face in the 2022 midterms? Writing in the Washington Post, Hugh Hewitt says no:
I expect House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to make an appearance, and deliver a We-Will-Press-On speech Wednesday, just as she did in 2010. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) will follow in the footsteps of his predecessor Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and pay no attention to the voters behind the curtains in Virginia and New Jersey. Pelosi and Schumer will drive through another $2 trillion in spending and the politically frail Biden will sign it … Democrats will avert their eyes and cover their ears just as they did in 2010, to the ruin of their fleeting majorities in both chambers.
It appears that the outcome will roughly equal the reluctant forecast of the Harvard Political Review before Election Day: “Our forecast predicts that Glenn Youngkin will win the Virginia Governorship with a two-party vote share of 52.1% … Our simulations predict that his chances of winning the race are 67.9%.” Tuesday morning GOP pollster Frank Luntz also predicted a Youngkin win on CNBC’s “Squawk Box”: “There’s about an 80% chance that the Republican nominee beats Terry McAuliffe … The Democrat is the incumbent and it looks like the incumbent is going to lose.” Usually the incumbent party wins if relatively competent. But the current Virginia governor, Democrat Ralph Northam, is an exception.
Once it was discovered that Northam’s medical school yearbook featured a photograph of him in blackface, it became inevitable that the Democrats would have trouble energizing the black vote in Virginia’s next gubernatorial election. Indeed, McAuliffe’s soft support among voters of color was clearly the reason he insisted that Youngkin’s position that parents should have more control over the curricula taught to their children in public schools was a “racist dog whistle.” McAuliffe was obviously worried about this, but the amount of money he accepted from teachers’ unions made it impossible to admit that parental objections to the indoctrination of their children was not about “dog whistles” but about union control over their children’s education. Fox News reported:
McAuliffe accepted a quarter of a million dollars from the embattled American Federation of Teachers … Additionally, McAuliffe took half a million dollars from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and $400,000 from the National Education Association (NEA) … NEA recently adopted a measure dropping $54,000 to target and “research” opponents of critical race theory — the highly controversial subject that McAuliffe has called a “right-wing conspiracy” that is the subject of a fiery fight in Virginia’s affluent Loudoun County School District.
Last week, during an interview with Sean Hannity, Youngkin predicted he would soundly defeat McAuliffe: “They’re not going to need lawyers because this isn’t going to be close.” He was right.