“People do not vote their interests, they vote their identities.”
—George Lakoff, “Moral Politics.”
We’ll start with Virginia (motto: Virgin for short but not for long)
With more than 95% of the votes in, all major media outlets project Glenn Youngkin (R-Trump) as the winner, with 51% of the vote to McAuliffe’s 48.3% (and 0.7% for third-party candidate Princess Blanding, which is the name of a prize-winning pig in one of the Jeeves books).
We are going to see a lot of doom and gloom pieces from America’s pundits because for those idiots one data point determines a trend, and yes “idiots” does bring to mind Chris Cillizza:
…and a guest star:
and now, a special guest star:
“It is looking like Terry McAuliffe’s campaign against a certain person named ‘Trump’ has very much helped Glenn Youngkin. All McAuliffe did was talk Trump, Trump, Trump and he lost!”
“I guess people running for office as Democrats won’t be doing that too much longer. I didn’t even have to go rally for Youngkin, because McAuliffe did it for me. Thank you to the MAGA voters for turning out big!”
Our pals over at Electoral-Vote look at potential causes for McAuliffe’s defeat:
- McAuliffe: McAuliffe is the prototype bland, unexciting, establishment candidate. Few people loathe him. Even fewer love him. He is a centrist’s centrist, a compromiser’s compromise candidate, and a ho-hummer’s ho-hum selection. In his successful 2013 campaign, he got 47.8% of the vote, or about 0.5% less than he got this year. It sure looks like approximately 48% is his level, and he wins when a third-party candidate siphons off some votes from the Republican (as happened in 2013, but not this year).
- The Clintons: McAuliffe is intimately associated with the Clintons, who are currently pretty toxic. This angle didn’t get a lot of coverage during this campaign, but surely there must have been some Youngkin voters who are really anti-Clinton voters.
- Virginia Is Not That Blue: Yes, the Old Dominion State has gone for the Democratic candidate in the last several elections, but it did go for George W. Bush twice, it had a Republican U.S. Senator as recently as 2009, a Republican governor as recently as 2014, and Republican control of both chambers of the legislature as recently as 2020.
- An Off-Year Election: We’ve said it a million times, and here is instance #1,000,001: Off-year elections are strange creatures. It is true that the 2022 elections will also be off-year, but elections like the ones last night are really off-year.
- The National Climate: Joe Biden’s approval ratings are poor right now, gas prices are crazy, and the Democrats are in the midst of an ugly sausage-making process in Congress. Was this a huge anchor around McAuliffe’s neck? We doubt it. Was it a medium-sized or small anchor around McAuliffe’s neck? That seems more reasonable. And in an election decided by 2-3%, a medium-to-small anchor is all it takes to sink the ship.
All of these seem reasonable, some more reasonable than others.
I will admit whenever I think of McAuliffe I do think of the Clintons: he was co-chairman of President Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign, chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2005, and chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. I never mentioned it because I assumed it was a blogging thing and normal people don’t think like that. And no, I am not blaming the Clintons.
If we can believe that Hair Füror was an anvil tied around Youngkin’s neck, then surely Republicans believe that the Clintons are tied around McAuliffe’s neck. God only knows, they see the Clintons behind EVERYTHING.
I will add that Critical Race Theory is the Republican’s new and ultimate MacGuffin, and we should all be aware that CRT signals the return of the Southern Strategy in the most Saint Ronnie way. Never underestimate the ability of Republicans to get White People afraid of Black People.
Democrats cunningly rigged yet another election, until it turned out that Glenn Youngkin won. How convenient! Anyway, on to New Jersey!
Tiger Beat on the Potomac (thanks Charlie!) leads with:
THE NAIL BITER — New Jersey’s gubernatorial race is still too close to call as you wake up this morning. With 88% of the expected vote in, incumbent PHIL MURPHY is trailing Republican JACK CIATTARELLI by just over 1,000 votes.
And here’s where maybe we have a second data point and the start of a trend for a Democrats in Danger storyline. Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ) was easily supposed to win reelection over former state assemblyman Republican Jack Ciattarelli. As I write this, their race is a tie: 49.6 v 49.7.
And then here at home in The People’s Republic of Seattle, the birthplace of Defund The Police movement, where the Chamber of Commerce candidate beat the Peoples candidate pretty handily, 65% to 35%. Since moving here nearly a decade now, the Chamber of Commerce candidate always wins, (usually the mayorship ends in scandal and a new Chamber of Commerce candidate is appointed, er, elected). I don’t usually bother to memorize their names, they are interchangeable. As one local activist (well, me) puts it: “This is Seattle, we can do better.”