Terry McAuliffe (who will now be referred to as McAwful) lost big in Virginia. Since I live in a swing city in Virginia, I saw very heavy campaigning on both sides the entire election, and the media have missed quite a few important points about why the election went so badly for McAwful.
First, the school board issue goes far beyond Loudon County. Loudon County has made news because a young girl was raped and the rape was covered up, but school board issues were brewing for some time. The Virginia Beach school board passed measures concerning transgender students and masking over the very vocal concerns of parents, and attempted to impose CRT under a different name as well. Chesapeake School district attempted to delay the mask mandate, but when Virginia’s health department saw that, they changed their rules to mandate masks, so Chesapeake and others had to comply.
That state government overreach really torqued people the wrong way. Up until then, Governor Northam had the appearance of a pretty middle of the road governor on COVID-19 response. He wasn’t a Ron Desantis, but he wasn’t murdering senior citizens like Michigan, California and New York. I could go to a Home Depot and purchase pretty much whatever I needed, while my parents in Michigan weren’t allowed to purchase anything but cleaning supplies. In fact, the military treated its service members far worse in terms of restrictions, so Governor Northam really avoided the heat for his COVID-19 response.
That’s why Terry McAwful was polling so well for so long. He was literally coasting to a win. That was compounded by Glenn Youngkin refusing the first debate with him because of a conflict of interest with the moderator, a known Democrat supporter. Most swing voters in Virginia were looking around, seeing their state not suck, and shrugging thinking it wasn’t all bad, up until the school boards were basically told to stuff it on the topics of masking, trans kids and CRT. That’s when the rumblings started.
Now, McAwful could have easily still won by simply punting on the issue of school boards. He could have said “I think we need to listen to parents but also listen to educators,” or some meaningless nonsense like that. Had he done that, it would have been difficult for Youngkin to paint him as an extremist because, again, Virginia hadn’t really been all that bad.
But McAwful opened his mouth and used his inside voice, making his now famous statement that parents shouldn’t be involved in their kids education. Right around the same time, Loudon County broke as a story, and kept breaking despite attempts to shuffle it off into a corner.
At this point, Youngkin did exactly what you’re supposed to do when an opponent falls on their sword: twist.
Compare that to previous debate performances by John McCain, now to be called McFakeRebel. Remember when McFakeRebel would try to stick something on Obama, who would just brush it off, and McFakeRebel had no followup? I remember that. I watched those debates saying “Seriously, grow a spinal cord and pounce!” Contrast that to Youngkin, who pounded McAwful every single chance he got on his statements. He did not let up one bit.
Youngkin’s ad campaign was non-existent until the last three weeks, but when it came, man it came hard. You couldn’t drive in Hampton Roads without seeing big, bold, red “Vote for Youngkin” signs. At least one industrial business flew a giant Youngkin flag that was quite visible from the High Rise Bridge. Even better, my kids saw a plane dragging a “Youngking for Governor” banner every time it was bright and sunny outside.
Youngkin was all over social media, especially on YouTube, which is number 1 in terms of social media use. Facebook is beginning to decline, and Snapchat and Instagram are increasing, so its safe to say that should change in the future, but overall, it was a good move on Youngkin’s part.
The last thing that Youngkin did well was let your opponent be your anti-hero. On abortion, Youngkin was quiet, but after Northam basically said it was ok to dump live babies in a bucket and decide whether to kill them later…do you really think Youngkin could be any worse than that? Or on gun control, while Youngkin didn’t get the NRA’s endorsement, nobody believed that he would be worse than McAwful. Youngkin didn’t bother campaigning on those things because nobody in their right mind had doubts about how he compared to McAwful.
Youngkin’s campaign was knocking on doors, putting up signs, holding rallies and in general getting out there. I’ll discuss things that went poorly in a different post, but Youngkin’s ground game was far above what you normally see. I remember the days of annoying Obama kids that wouldn’t leave me alone in my home. I hated them, but I had to admit that they were out there working the ground game, which is a big reason behind him winning. Youngkin had the same enthusiasm going. No amount of support from Biden, Harris or Obama will make up for people knocking on their neighbors doors.
Thankfully, Virginia will have a House of Delegates and Executive branch next year that just might end our stupid pandemic and get us back to normal.
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