If Terry McAuliffe holds on to defeat Glenn Youngkin in the Virginia governor’s race, a large number of Republicans will blame Donald Trump. McAuliffe has assiduously tied Youngkin to Trump. Youngkin has followed a careful strategy of appealing to both Trump cultists and moderates. Should he lose, it would be a proof point that blue-state Republicans can’t keep a foot in both camps. They would have to denounce the former president more forcefully to gain the credibility they need to win statewide office, a step that would erode Trump’s influence over the party.
So a McAuliffe win would be a devastating blow for Trump’s power base within the Republican Party. Yet here is a funny thing. Nobody within the Republican Party, not even the Republicans who complain about his influence, wants this outcome.
What’s the reason for this curious choice? It’s not that mainstream Republicans are morons. They’re perfectly aware of the stakes Trump has in the race. But they have other, normal Republican reasons to prefer a Youngkin victory: They would end Democratic control of Virginia, throw a scare into national Democrats, help their own fundraising, and so on. And faced with a choice between advancing normal Republican politics and prying their party loose from Trump’s grip, they are picking door No. 1 en masse.
I have not followed this race closely, but from what I know, I am one of the people Chait describes, who complains about Trump’s influence but wants Youngkin to win. Why? First and foremost, because McAuliffe is vile. He is a scumbag relic of the Clinton years and he needs to be gone. Second, because I think it’s healthy for Democrats to try to put forth decent candidates and become reasonable on the issues, rather than think they can win elections simply by pointing to Donald Trump. McAuliffe walked out of an interview in the middle, chiding the reporter by saying he should have asked better questions. But the questions he had already been asked were perfectly reasonable:
The questions Minock did have the opportunity to ask McAuliffe were about his declaration that he doesn’t “think parents should be telling schools what to teach,” the Biden administration’s decision to involve the FBI in disputes between parents and school boards, how he would allocate resources to lower the violent crime rate in Virginia, and vaccine mandates.
McAuliffe didn’t like being challenged. He wanted to say “Youngkin=Trump” 100 times and dust off his hands.
Joe Biden will be watching this race closely. And he needs to get his [scatalogical reference deleted] together and realize that he can’t govern like a radical leftist idiot for four years and just expect to sail to re-election because the other guy is Donald Trump.
Maybe the Democrats have their own lessons to learn from this race too, is my point.