With just 36 days until early voting begins in the crucial elections for all 140 Virginia General Assembly seats, plus a bunch of important local offices (County Board, School Board, etc.), check out this interview with Sam Shirazi (audio and transcript below), as I think he lays out the stakes very well, and also the biggest challenge (turnout in a historically VERY low-turnout off/odd-year election)…as well as what might drive Democratic turnout this election (hint: it’s not a big mystery in a post-Dobbs world!).
By the way, my one quibble with this overall excellent interview is that I don’t believe the VA GOP has truly recalibrated its stances or positioning, other than trying to pull the wool over voters’ eyes, as Glenn Youngkin did in 2021 (and the media fell for hook/line/sinker). I mean, just look at their candidates’ hard-right views on women’s reproductive freedom, as well as what they admit their actual views are when they’re “saying the quiet part out loud.” And note that their extreme views on women’s reproductive freedom aren’t an exception; they’re the rule, as Virginia Republican candidates this year are almost unanimously extreme on guns, the environment, voting rights, public education, you name the issue. Plus, of course, Youngkin himself is very conservative, just not as overtly crazy/extreme as a Marjorie Taylor Greene or Bob Good or whatever, so the pundits are like, “wow, he’s so…’moderate’!” LOL
P.S. And if all that’s not enough to convince you that Virginia Republicans are as extreme as – or more extreme than – ever, check out their off-the-deep end candidates for U.S. Senate next year. And remember, they’ve got Winsome Sears as LG (and probably their leading candidate for governor in 2025) and Jason Miyares as AG…both of whom are very, very far right.
“I think people don’t realize how important this election in Virginia is this year – because either they’re thinking about the 2024 election or it’s an off-year. But this election will really determine whether Virginia at a state level becomes a red state –
maybe not quite as close to Florida but maybe something like North Carolina – or does it still stay in that slightly blue area. And it’s hard for me to know exactly what’s going to happen because the turnout is so unpredictable because it’s an off-off year election…there’s a few crucial toss-up seats that it’s so hard to predict who’s gonna win. And so I don’t know, we could see
everything from the Democrats winning both the State Senate and the House of Delegates because every single seat in the legislature is up for election, or we could see the Republicans winning both the State Senate and the House of Delegates.
And Glenn Youngkin is really betting on the State Senate and House of Delegates flipping red, because that means he can pass whatever he wants – he can pass an abortion ban, he can pass voting rights restrictions, he can basically make Virginia a red state. And I’m hoping that people start to realize the stakes and especially Democrats understand that this isn’t just some random election in a random year. With the overturning of Roe like this is really an election that will decide a lot. And I wish I knew who was going to win but it’s just one of those things I don’t know who’s going to show up on these off-off-year elections. It’s not like there’s even a governor’s race…the highest seat that’s going to be elected is the State Senate in each district…it’s hard to know who’s going to turn up for those types of elections.”
“…we’re all assuming it’s going to be super competitive in November. I think there is a possibility that there could be this little mini-‘blue wave’ in Virginia mainly fueled by the abortion issue. And there’s a few factors involved. So in in these off-year elections, typically you see more college-educated voters turning out, and…they care about the abortion issue, particularly women. And as you mentioned…maybe more Republican-leaning women or at least independent women in the past might have voted for Republicans, but weill be more open for voting for the Democrats this year because of the choice issue.
I think the hesitation among Virginia Democrats is, prior to Trump, these off-off-year elections were pretty brutal for Democrats because just no one would turn up. If you looked at the 2015 election for example, I think the Democrats out of 100 seats…got about a third of them in the House of Delegates…because it was just an off-off year election and young people weren’t showing up and a lot of these factors. And this is the first of these off-off-year elections post-Trump. So we had one in 2019, Democrats won, we had Trump in the White House. The question becomes, are they going to turn out either because of Trump – I don’t think Trump is going to be a big factor, I think it’s really going to be the abortion issue driving Democrats to come out – and we’ll see. I mean, Youngkin has a lot of money, he’s putting it into the races, he wants the big win, so I don’t think you can discount the Republicans’ chances. But…I tend to agree with you, all else being equal, I think Democrats will probably win. It’s just for whatever reason, is there some quirk that happens, Youngkin has money, or or just Democrats don’t show up for whatever reason, can the Republicans pull off a win?”