This morning, the Cook Political Report moved the Virginia governor’s race to “Toss Up,” from “Lean Democratic” previously. Cue the panic? Maybe, maybe not, but here are a few thoughts, with just 39 days until election day on 11/2.
- First of all, we *should* be concerned that early voting appears to be off to a slow start, including in “blue” parts of the state. Does that mean that Democrats are simply waiting until closer to election day, or maybe election day itself, to vote? Or does it indicate a lack of Democratic enthusiasm and likelihood to vote AT ALL this election? I’m not sure, but it’s definitely concerning, particularly given what a grave threat Trumpism represents to America (and absolutely read Our constitutional crisis is already here if you haven’t already – then vote!)
- Second, note that Sabato’s Crystal Ball still rates the VA governor’s race as “Leans Democratic,” although it also points out warning signs, including some indications that “McAuliffe has an enthusiasm problem,” and that “higher turnout is likely the goal for McAuliffe, whose party performed much better in 2017 and 2018’s higher-turnout statewide elections than they did in lower-turnout 2013 and 2014.” So yeah, this all comes down to turnout, turnout, turnout, in that if Democrats show up, we’ll win, and if not, we’ll lose. End of story.
- Third, with regard to the Cook Political Report, it may be justified of them to move the race from “Leans Dem” to “Toss Up” right now, but…it’s also possible they’re going for “clicks,” and the new Editor-in-Chief of that publication (Amy Walter) has been relentlessly “both sides,” false equivalence, and increasingly parroting right-wing anti-Dem/anti-Biden “framing” (see this piece, for instance). So, honestly, I really don’t trust or respect the Cook Political Report much anymore, as I really used to for many years when it was led by Charlie Cook. Oh well.
- Fourth, for what it’s worth, the betting markets (PredictIt, specifically) still has McAuliffe as a strong favorite (73 cents right now), but that’s down somewhat from 80 cents on 9/21.
- Fifth, the polling so far in this race has had McAuliffe consistently ahead, albeit not by a huge margin and also with a couple exceptions (mainly, the recent UMW poll, which was weird in numerous ways, including that it had McAuliffe up 5 points among registered voters but DOWN 5 points among likely voters).
- Bottom line: Virginia Democrats shouldn’t panic about this, but we SHOULD be worried about this election for a lot of reasons. Of course, worrying isn’t particularly helpful if it isn’t connected to ACTION. Along those lines, what Virginia Democratic voters, activists, etc. need to do right now is to fire up a major sense of urgency, absolutely NOT assume Virginia is a “blue” state and that we’re going to win this election easily, and instead act like the race it tied or Terry McAuliffe’s behind. Also, Virginia Democrats need to realize that Trumpism is a dire threat to America, and also here in Virginia, and that if Youngkin/Sears/Miyares take charge, along with right-wing Republican Todd Gilbert as Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, things are going to get UGLY very fast, on pretty much every front, from a woman’s right to choose to gun violence prevention to LGBT equality to the environment to voting rights and elections to…you name it. Want to prevent that? Then VOTE as if Virginia’s future depends on it, because it absolutely does!