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Is Virginia the Last Stand for Desperate Democrats?

If Dems can’t hold a blue state where Biden romped one year ago, the party is over.

by | Oct 24, 2021 | Articles, Good Reads, Opinion, Politics

Ordinarily, political analysts desperate to, well, analyze, will overstate the significance of the thin lineup of races of national interest in the year following a presidential election. The prognosticators tend to take a thin gruel of results and try to turn them into something closer to a full meal of meaning. But after the extraordinary tumult of the 2020 elections and the subsequent sinking fortunes of the party that came out on top, this year’s single race with potential national ramifications figures to present an honest-to-goodness accurate reading of the national political barometer.

GettyImages-1236050875 Terry McAuliffe

Terry McAuliffe (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Of course, as the pandemic cruelly taught us, events over the next year could render present trends meaningless. Some kind – at this point, almost any kind – of social welfare legislation might recover some of the political capital forfeited by Democrats in their embarrassing internal battles. But as it stands now, there is every reason to believe the Dems should plan to avert their eyes from the outcome of the race pitting Democrat career politician Terry McAuliffe against Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin for governor of Virginia.

Consider the myriad built-in advantages McAuliffe enjoys in the Old Dominion, on top of his previous experience as the state’s top official. Biden won there by ten points a year ago. Trump was particularly unpopular; twice losing the state badly. The top three state officials, both U.S. senators, and seven of those who represent Virginia’s eleven congressional districts are Democrats. Thus, even a narrow victory by McAuliffe in this red-turned-blue state would portend serious trouble for Democrats in the midterms. And an outright loss could not be explained away as anything less than an ominous sign for the party’s chances in 2022, and would likely trigger a new day in national politics.

The magnitude of it might not resemble the fate facing the Confederates at Appomattox or Napoleon at Waterloo, but it figures to be downright ugly for Democrats if present trends continue. McAuliffe, a Clinton-era relic seeking a second non-consecutive term, has seen a high single-digit lead evaporate over the last month, with the latest poll by Monmouth calling the race a dead heat just ten days out from the election. McAuliffe has certainly contributed to his own decline by siding with teachers’ unions over parents, with his inexplicable declaration that “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” and his equally inexplicable walkout on an interview with friendly TV. But McAuliffe’s collapsing fortunes are largely a reflection of the incredible shrinking presidency of Joe Biden. And the party’s Keystone Kops act in Congress, their inability to talk amongst themselves, has only made their brand even more unappealing.

New banner Memo - From the Desk of Senior Political Analyst Tim Donner 1The leading indicator of McAuliffe’s and Democrats’ troubles is that the former governor was forced to call in every big leftist gun from Barack Obama to Stacy Abrams to campaign around Virginia – with the notable exception of the president who McAuliffe admitted is not popular in his state, though the first lady made an appearance. It reminds one of the assemblage of celebrities who gathered on the eve of the 2016 election in an ultimately futile effort to push Hillary Clinton across the finish line. Kamala Harris even embroiled herself in yet another controversy by cutting a pro-McAuliffe commercial run in dozens of churches, which are bound by law not to engage in partisan political activity.

The facts on the ground for this president and his party are nothing short of gruesome. Biden’s dream of a massive social spending spree has been obliterated. He has failed to get moderates and progressives together on a deal. The border crisis of his own making is metastasizing. Outrage over his surrender in Afghanistan is still festering. Consumer confidence is tanking. Economic growth is all but stalled. Inflation is rising to disturbing levels. His approval has sunk below even that of Donald Trump post-Charlottesville, hitting the 30s in two recent polls.

Indeed, with Democrats teetering on the edge of a disaster of untold proportions in next year’s midterms, the gubernatorial race in Virginia is now seen as a golden opportunity – for both parties. For Republicans, it’s their chance to prove that Biden and his party are every bit as unpopular as they appear and reverse the momentum of last November. For Democrats, it’s an opportunity to at least hold serve on their home turf and turn down the volume on the growing chorus of harsh critics of the 46th president and his fellow travelers on the left.

But rest assured, leftists are girding their loins for a long dark political winter if the prevailing political currents in Virginia hold. Republican resistance will continue to intensify, independent voters will default to the GOP, and dispirited Democrats will stay home in sufficient numbers to convey a clear message: We won’t get fooled again.

~ Read more from Tim Donner.

Read More From Tim Donner

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