Glen Youngkin, the Republican candidate in next week’s
Virginia’s gubernatorial election, who is running against
former Democratic Governor, Terry McAuliffe, has closed the polling
gap using an anti-public education message that is galvanizing his
Republican base and gaining support among Independents and some
is piggy-backing White resentment of the country’s direction
and the rapid demographic change that Donald Trump successfully
deployed in his successful 2016 campaign for the presidency. Youngkin
has also aligned himself with the anti-vaccine proponents, school
choice advocates, and those who oppose the teaching of critical race
theory in K-12 public schools (although it is not being taught
issues are being carefully woven together to stoke fear, anger, and
unity among Virginia’s voters. And Youngkin, a Trump acolyte
whom the past President has aggressively endorsed, is skillfully
embracing Trump’s rabid supporters while keeping a discrete
political distance between Trump and himself, moving as niftily as
the Ballerina, Misty Copeland.
core messages being spread by massive TV and radio ad spending have
included the call for banning Beloved,
the Pulitzer prize-winning slavery novel by Toni Morrison, America’s
only African American female Nobel Laureate in literature; attacks on
the corruption and academic failure of K-12 public education; and the
truthful teaching of America’s racial history (critical race
theory) in a way that allegedly makes White children feel bad.
internal Republican poll of suburban battlegrounds has revealed the
following: 78 percent agree that America’s public schools are
failing children, 65 percent oppose biological males, presenting as
females, competing against women in high school and college sports,
and 58 percent agree that critical race theory should not be taught
in schools. This is the national Republican template for political
are swinging heavily toward Youngkin regarding parent control of
public education, and it is resonating across the electorate. His
negative stories about teacher unions are reminiscent of the school
busing wars of the 1970s.
a lively debate, McAuliffe’s provided Youngkin with campaign
fodder when he said, “I’m
not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books
out and make their own decision,”… “I don’t
think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
pounced on these statements and immediately launched TV and radio ads
to rile up his supporters which drove his poll numbers up.
Gov. McAuliffe has not systematically addressed the aforementioned
issues and has not met with parent groups while Youngkin meets with
them regularly in diners and town halls where he feeds them the
political red meat they crave. He has also linked with the
anti-maskers and other Trumpian edicts while posing as a moderate.
has responded by having Democratic political heavyweights, President
Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, former President Barack
Obama, 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, and a host
of others join him on the campaign trail. They have collectively
aimed their political fire at the missteps of Donald Trump, which may
not be enough to propel McAuliffe to victory.
his narrow win of the governorship in 2013, McAuliffe won 48 percent
to 45.5 percent over his Republican opponent Ken Cuccinelli (with a
third-party candidate garnering the rest of the vote). And during the
final weeks of the campaign, he was leading by a large margin, and
the expectation was that he would win by double digits.
released last Wednesday show that McAuliffe and Youngkin are
essentially in a dead heat, 49 percent to 49 percent or 45 percent to
45 percent with 5 percent undecided. The Democratic turnout machine
has not kept pace with its Republican counterpart in the early
voting, but there is still time to recover.
abortion issue is resonating in Virginia’s Washington, D.C.
collar communities (in the aftermath of the recent Texas
anti-abortion legislation) and the state’s metropolitan areas,
districts where Democrats are strongest and have the best prospects
of making their case. They just need to make it!
suggested in last week’s column, the McAuliffe team needs to
reach out to Virginia’s only former African American governor,
Doug Wilder, for assistance in turning out the Black vote. Wilder
helped deliver high Black turnout for Justin Fairfax, Virginia’s
second Black Lt. Governor in 2013, and thus aided Ralph Northam in
securing the governorship as both were running as Democrats.
Democrats won back the House in 2018 by running against Trump, who
was then in the White House. They are pursuing the same strategy in
2021 when Trump is no longer the President. The problem for
Republicans then was that they had no counter-message. This time
around, Youngkin has powerful counter-messages with anti-public
education and anti-vaccine advocacy at the center.
race is now down to the last lap and the Party - Democrat or
Republican - that gets its supporters to early vote and go to the
polls on November 2nd will be victorious.