POLL: McAuliffe +5 Over Youngkin; Leads 51-30% In Suburbs
With the 2022 Generic Ballot at D+1 and McAuliffe underperforming Biden, Democrats are a lot softer this year than the media is letting on.
Time to get some of the more brutal things out of the way.
Elections Daily just let loose with a blistering critique of the Youngkin campaign over the last two months. You can read it by clicking here if you are so inclined.
Conservatives for Clean Energy released a poll showing Terry McAuliffe with a soft but prevailing five point lead over Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin — with suburban households choosing the former Democratic governor by 19 points.
Overall, most Virginians feel as if the commonwealth is heading in the wrong direction by a 47% to 35% margin. Suburban voters break evenly on this question 40% to 39% whereas rural voters are overwhelmingly convinced that things are heading off the rails — 63% to 25%. Moderates? 40% feel as if we are on the wrong track; 36% think we are on the right track. Good work, Governor Northam… goo-o-o-ood work.
Virginians are evenly split on President Joe Biden’s job approval numbers, with 47% favorable and 46% unfavorable. McAuliffe’s favorables stand at 45%.
Princess Blanding with the Liberation Party ticket stands at just 2% — Democrats continue to be very alarmed at her presence in the race.
The last nationwide Congressional Generic Ballot is D+1 — numbers comparable to 2014. RealClearPolitics keeps a running tally here.
So here’s the good news:
Now one might be looking at Youngkin’s campaign talking points as more directed towards Virginia’s rural base — which is okay for a time. Yet the 19-point gap in the suburbs is going to require some serious attention — quickly.
This doesn’t mean that McAuliffe has been silent all this time either, despite Rubashkin’s quick 280-character analysis of the state of the race.
One could just as easily argue that despite having spent gobs of cash attempting to define Youngkin as the incumbent, McAuliffe’s numbers have moved precisely one point.
Time For The Critical Part, Folks…
While we can quibble on these things, what is starting to become clear to many Virginia Republicans is that Team Youngkin has yet to get out of first gear.
While anticipation and a general contempt for McAuliffe has kept Republicans united for the present, there is growing concern that maybe — just maybe — our hopes have exceeded our operational abilities. What’s more, unforced errors that were forgivable in May are starting to appear downright rude and condescending by August.
Naturally, Youngkin should be given every inch of rope we can afford. But hammocks simply aren’t in the cards anymore, folks.
In short, the honeymoon is winding down and the hard work of September is about to begin. Given that? Youngkin has about 2-3 weeks to answer the all important question of why he wants to be governor:
George Allen: End Parole (BONUS: parental notification!)
Jim Gilmore: No Car Tax! (a promise we still need to fulfill)
Bob McDonnell: Bob’s For Jobs! (he really was)
Ken Cuccinelli: I’m Not McAuliffe (almost worked)
Ed Gillespie: Ease The Squeeze (not quite as catchy)
Page From The Playbook: Create The Contract With Virginia
Here’s a thought — and I am totally spitballing. But crazier things have happened, right?
We should develop a Contract With Virginia with 10 clear and achievable initiatives that a Republican House of Delegates can put to an up-down vote and ask a Republican Governor to sign:
Commit 3% of all Virginia Lottery proceeds to Virginia’s pregnancy resource centers.
Entirely Defund Planned Parenthood
End the “War of 1812” Tax (BPOL)
Allow local education tax dollars to follow the student (opportunity vouchers or Hope Scholarships).
Increase state funding to planning district commissions (PDCs) to explore linking transportation dollars to planning and economic development.
Commit to ending at least 10 unfunded or partially funded mandates to Virginia localities; renew the Virginia Commission on Local Government Mandate Review
Allow coding to be included as a foreign language requirement for Virginia secondary schools (Spanish, French, Latin, HTML, C++).
Create the Virginia A+ Scholarship for workforce development + retraining through our VCCS system. (see: Missouri)
Create a statewide microfinance institution (MFI) grant pool to provide access to resources to be administered by regional MFIs (e.g. Staunton Creative Community Fund)
Restore Virginia’s commitment to free and fair elections with Voter ID.
Tell me that this kind of agenda wouldn’t wake you up in the morning?
The best part is that there are all sorts of conservative goodies in here for suburban families. The Missouri model for community colleges? Creates jobs in trades that help create self-employed and independent business owners. Coding as a second language? Yes please. Attention to the relationship between local government and Richmond? You just got the attention of every local elected official in every corner of Virginia.
Certifying that we actually won the War of 1812? Priceless.
The pro-life stuff is just common sense. We don’t fund the extermination of future taxpayers. I didn’t include any 2A stuff because frankly, I’m a knuckle dragging troglodyte and don’t believe we should tolerate any restriction on our 2A that we would never tolerate on our 1A rights. One book a month? Eight page magazines? Background checks for book purchases?
We should have stopped the Bill of Rights at “Congress should make no law…” — James Madison was right.
As for CRT and other local mandates? Do what Florida does — if you don’t like the imposed mandates, take the Hope Scholarship and send your children to the school of your choice.
The fact of the matter is that the Democrats are attacking what remains of our institutions with remarkable force and from multiple directions. If we do not counter with a vision of free markets, free minds and a free society? Beating something with nothing has never occurred in the long history of Virginia politics.
“Virginians Don’t Win” and “The B-Team”
At present, even with Youngkin on the ticket? We may no longer be in Northam-Gillespie ‘17 territory (Northam +9), but we are in Warner-Gillespie ‘14 territory (Warner +1). That’s just not good news; that’s great news. House Republicans are chomping at the bit and believe firmly that we will retake the House of Delegates. Jason Miyares and Winsome Sears are both within striking distance. If Biden’s numbers dip just 2 points? All of the sudden the distinctions made by tens of millions of dollars in television ads begin to make a tangible difference — because let’s face it; Washington has a lot more to do with victory in Virginia than anything else (and it will matter in October for sure).
But it also means we need every hand at the oars rowing together — just as we had with Gillespie in 2014. Ultimately it boils down to a question of respect.
Which means the “Virginians don’t win” comments from Youngkin campaign staffers followed up by “B-Team” remarks about Virginia thought leaders working in the vineyard for the better part of a decade?
I’m sorry… but those folks who have done the hard work to prepare for just such a moment as this deserve a touch more respect than what we have seen over the last two months.
The sobering truth? 65% of Republicans voted for someone else on the first round in May 2021. Some folks may have forgotten, but there are still a lot of bruises and silent phones out there. Did anyone bother to patch that up? Or did we assume that “Democrats fall in love; Republicans fall in line” was going to perform the heavy lift of relationship building?
That perspective remains a mistake.
Virginia is still about relationships — we don’t take kindly to folks parachuting in from cubicles in Arlington and telling others what to do. Moreover, when folks like their local liaison only to find out some major donor had them summarily fired? That’s going to make the rounds quickly.
The good news is this can all be corrected by people who give a damn.
The Guns of September (Pace Barbara Tuchman)
I earnestly mean this. I want Youngkin to win — I’m tired of losing. I’m equally tired of losing because Democrats play the long game and Republicans pay the consultants.
Show me we are building the infrastructure for a four-year fight and I’m in. Show me that this is another payday in an unwinnable state taking advantage of a well-heeled candidate? I’m sorry — but that’s not fair to Youngkin or Virginia.
Again, there’s an ocean of good news out there. McAuliffe’s numbers are soft, but lacking any compelling vision to set out into the deep blue sea? Suburban Virginians may very well trust the devil they know.
McAuliffe isn’t just bad — McAuliffe is hostile to everything we believe as Virginians. Abortion by mail, firearm confiscations, CRT and transgender theory, correct gender pronouns and the full force of the government on this and many other issues aren’t just assumed — they are promises.
But good campaigns need two things.
First? A reason to fire the incumbent. Second? A reason to hire the challenger.
We aren’t quite there yet. But we can be — and soon.
Shaun Kenney is the editor of The Republican Standard, former chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Fluvanna County, and a former executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia.