Trafalgar Shows McAuliffe +2; Youngkin Pilots Virginia's Media Shoals
The media forgets: this election is a referendum on eight failed years of Northam-McAuliffe policies, not Youngkin's smattering of policy papers.
The toplines from Trafalgar Group aren’t precisely illuminative. Of course, Trafalgar isn’t the most reputable firm out there. Their November 2016 map wasn’t just wrong, it was waaaaay off course (five A’s).
Left wing observers fond of the craft have noticed how poorly they do — often in an attempt to snag new clients by selling soft votes that don’t exist (in Virginia’s case — a soft Chase vote that could swing Youngkin’s way).
Virginians aren’t stupid.
Republicans Are Winning (But The Empire Is Striking Back)
Of course, Trafalgar has its serious weaknesses. That’s not to say that blind pigs can’t find acorns in the morning. But it is to say that — for those of us talking politics to others — there’s an energy out there that we really haven’t felt since Gillespie ‘14, McDonnell ‘09 and Allen ‘93.
In fact, going around Virginia, it certainly doesn’t feel as if we are losing. Feels like we are running downhill with the wind at our backs.
Which means the Democrats are going to start getting a little bit more desperate in their haymakers — starting with trying to get Youngkin on record with just about anything they can.
Need proof? At present, there is a bit of a nag going on in media circles that the Youngkin campaign isn’t doing enough to flesh out its policy positions.
Fair play — until one considers that the race isn’t exactly about Youngkin’s policy papers but rather eight long years of Northam-McAuliffe forced errors when it comes to education, health care, and the economy.
No — I will digress. Because the Northam-McAuliffe era really is on trial here.
Toss onto this pile a stalled economic recovery, $2.6 billion in overtaxation — what bureaucrats call a surplus — and an additional $4 billion goodie bag for COVID recovery relief that Northam and the Virginia Democrats are dropping in like Red Santa to give presents to all the good left-wing boys and girls and well — seems as if the media narrative is missing the wider point we all collectively see — the Democrats are in power and will not surrender it lightly.
Except that narrative barely exists other than at places like TRS for one reason alone — the media refuses to talk about any other narrative than the one that helps Democrats.
When It Comes To Information, Verify Then Verify AGAIN
I’ll give you an example.
Youngkin’s media team just rolled out a veterans policy paper designed to support veterans issues. Most notable in the list was a plan to make veterans retirement checks non-taxable — first by making 50% of retirement pay exempt and then exempting the rest in Youngkin’s final year in office.
The only Virginia press outlet to report on it? The Augusta Free Press. This publication was forwarded a copy of the proposal through a third party long after the speech had been delivered.
Now this isn’t to throw rocks at a single soul on Youngkin’s communications team. Far from it — they are crack professionals who know their job.
But it is to say that examples such as these crystalize certain realities.
First and foremost of which is that the liberal media simply isn’t going to give Glenn Youngkin or Virginia Republicans a fair shake on anything. In fact, they are working overtime to help craft a narrative that Virginia is somehow 1st in the nation for business (we’re not) despite holding precisely zero first place holdings in any category other Number of Terry McAuliffe’s Running For Governor.
The second bit — and this is the more difficult game — is that we need to recognize that we live in an era of opinion journalism.
For instance? The left has CNN; the right has FOX.
In Virginia, the left has the Washington Post, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Virginian Pilot, Free Lance-Star, Daily Progress, and countless other weeklies. Nevermind the television stations. I exempt the Roanoke Times because — while center left — they are at the very least liberals in the truest sense of the word and maintain perhaps the last truly open public square in Virginia in the tradition of former FLS editor-in-chief Paul Akers — long since forfeited in my hometown of Fredericksburg.
The right does not have a single newspaper of record. Certainly not with the reach of the WaPo, RTD or the Pilot.
Online, the left has Blue Virginia, Virginia Mercury, Courthouse News Service, Virginia Scope, and Dogwood News Service among others. On the right? Bearing Drift, Bull Elephant — and yours truly here at The Republican Standard — the only publication presently capable of competing with mid-level Virginia print media in terms of social media impressions.
In short, Virginia’s consistent conservative media ecosystem is pretty thin. In fact, you might be reading it right now.
All the more reason to ask two questions:
Why should I believe this?
Who benefits if I believe this?
Answer those two questions and you’ll solve 85% of the disinformation problem in the American media. It worked against the Soviets; it will work for us too.
Watch Your Narratives; They Become Your Actions
Which brings us a bit full circle to the media story that magically got talked about rather than Youngkin’s veterans policy, namely the navel gazing as to whether or not Youngkin is sufficiently pro-life enough to galvanize the right.
Nevermind that the opposition had to squirrel this out of Youngkin in what was thought to be a candid one-on-one exchange. The presupposed “gotcha” moment was anything but — Youngkin candidly responded that until he has a pro-life majority, there is little to do but wait. Fair enough.
The more accurate gambit is that this pro-abortion activist (paid or otherwise) decided to flip this to a media eager to pounce in an in-kind donation to the McAuliffe campaign desperate for traction, attempting to pry out a controversial statement our of Youngkin that McAuliffe in true Dr. Evil manner can use in the suburbs to steal Austin Powers’ mojo.
Except it has to be the dumbest and most dishonest thing I have seen in politics in a long time.
Most of you know that I am pro-life. Not just a little bit pro-life, but the Catholic position that protects the basic right to exist from creation to natural death.
Only 1 in 6 Americans hold this position.
Whether or not Glenn Youngkin holds my position as well is up for grabs. Yet most Americans are instinctively pro-life — 2 out of 3 in fact — even if they believe that abortion should be safe, legal and rare (a hard argument to make when 800,000 babies die every year from abortion — but I digress).
What Republicans should be focused on is where McAuliffe stands on expanding abortion up to and past the moment of birth, expanding taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, and expanding services such as abortion-by-mail in Virginia.
Will Youngkin dip his hands into the pile of blood money Planned Parenthood is offering politicians to turn their backs on human dignity? Absolutely not.
I look forward to the day where our definitions of social justice extend to every human life no matter how small.
Until that day? Stop the bleeding and let’s focus on the work we can do while refusing to become the regulatory arm of the abortion industry with half-measures.
Youngkin — I hope — will listen to the right people.
But notice the game here. Democrats are desperate to cleave off some fraction of the Republican coalition — either among suburban women or Christian pro-lifers.
In fact, Youngkin doesn’t even have to walk the tightrope to do better than Northam and McAuliffe, if for no other reason than Democrats such as Ralph Northam are so comfortable with infanticide as to describe it in such clinical detail on WTOP.
Best of luck moonwalking that one back.
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.