News & Politics

McAuliffe Effort to Tie Youngkin to Trump Ends Up Tying Biden to McAuliffe

AP Photo/Cliff Owen

Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe bet the farm on being able to nationalize the election for governor and tie the presumed millstone of Donald Trump around the neck of his GOP opponent.

It backfired ingloriously. Instead of Trump being a drag on his opponent Glenn Youngkin, McAuliffe is being sunk by his ties to the increasingly obvious failure that is the Joe Biden presidency.

McAuliffe’s efforts to tie Trump to Youngkin culminated in his last-ditch appeal to Virginia voters.

New York Times:

Mr. McAuliffe, crisscrossing the state in another plane, hammered away at the Trump-Youngkin connection, as he has for weeks. During his closing rally, in the parking lot of a Fairfax brewery, Mr. McAuliffe said Mr. Trump’s name 13 times in his 15-minute speech, repeatedly tying him to Mr. Youngkin.

He warned that a victory by Mr. Youngkin would pave the way for Mr. Trump to attempt his own political restoration, and urged Virginians not to let the two of them exploit the state that way.

Virginia voters may or may not care about Trump’s “political restoration.” What they care about is the present — not the past and certainly not who might be running in 2024 on the Republican ballot.

By inviting voters to focus on Trump, McAuliffe missed the road signs pointing to Biden that warned: “Speed Bump Ahead.”

WTOP:

Another name not appearing on Tuesday’s ballot is Biden’s, yet his approval ratings have fallen in recent weeks and his administration will likely get a lot of the blame nationally if its party doesn’t prevail in Virginia. The Democratic-controlled Congress has yet to approve a major public works bill or a sweeping spending package that would dramatically increase government support for the social safety net — providing still more potential political headwinds against McAuliffe.

Still, some Youngkin supporters credited their preferred candidate with keeping the race focused on Virginia, not Washington.

Nationalizing a state race is always hazardous for the candidate who tries it. It’s a good strategy for the party out of power to focus anger on the incumbent president, but McAuliffe tried to frighten women, children, old people, and blacks by raising the haunting specter of Donald Trump controlling his puppet Glenn Youngkin and getting him to do all sorts of very bad things.

Related: McAuliffe Calls for Diversity Hiring Programs for Virginia’s Teachers

Unfortunately for McAuliffe, Trump was nowhere to be found on the ballot in Virginia. All but the most rabid Trump haters in the state apparently just shrugged their shoulders and wondered what McAuliffe was getting so excited about.

Instead, Youngkin was wildly successful in tying current President Joe Biden to McAuliffe. And Biden is proving to be a dead weight, dragging down turnout among key constituencies.

Tom Bonier, the chief executive of TargetSmart, a Democratic data firm, wrote on Sunday that Black turnout in the early vote was down slightly from 2020 levels, while the percentage of young voters was “lagging badly behind previous benchmarks.”

The share of rural voters casting ballots early was up sharply, and Republican voters appeared far more enthusiastic about the election than Democrats did, he said.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. McAuliffe should have been taking a victory lap by now as his less experienced opponent flailed about helplessly.

Instead, McAuliffe’s gigantic gaffe about parents not having the right to choose the curriculum for their children, coupled with the growing realization among all voters that Biden is in over his head, has made this race far more competitive than it appeared just six weeks ago.

Obviously, it’s not in the bag yet. But Democrats — dispirited, depressed, and fearing the worst — can read the writing on the wall. Their “progressive moment” is passing, and America may never fully realize how close we came to an end of the republic.