To quote a prominent Democrat, elections have consequences. Vice President Kamala Harris is about to discover election season rhetoric has consequences, too.
Harris, you may recall, was one of the big guns brought in to campaign hard for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe once it became clear he wasn’t going to easily trounce his GOP challenger, businessman Glenn Youngkin.
In fact, the veep made two appearances for McAuliffe, a former Virginia governor and head of the Democratic National Committee. In the first one, on Oct. 21, Harris appeared in Dumfries, which The Associated Press described as “part of fast-growing Northern Virginia, which has been a key driver in turning what was once a red state more reliably blue.”
“This race is tight,” Harris said. “And we got to make it clear, Virginia, that we’re paying attention. We got to make it clear that we’re not taking anything for granted.”
Apparently, the veep wasn’t taking it for granted, because she made a second appearance in support of McAuliffe along with musician Pharrell Williams at a campaign event in Norfolk last week, where she said “the president and I care deeply about Terry McAuliffe, about the commonwealth of Virginia and about the future of our nation.”
Then, Harris upped the ante a bit — and we can only hope she was speaking the truth when she did.
“Now, you all know that every four years, when this election happens for governor of Virginia, it’s a tight election,” Harris claimed.
In actuality, no Republican has won the race since 2009 and only one has been victorious since 2001, which should tell a great deal about the Democrat brand in 2021. What she said next, however, we can only hope was being transmitted directly from her mouth to God’s ears.
“Last time I was standing with Terry, I saw a bunch of signs, and they said, ‘Don’t Texas Virginia,'” Harris said to laughter and applause. “Right? Let’s not Texas Virginia!
“Because, you see, what happens in Virginia will, in large part, determine what happens in 2022, 2024, and on,” she continued.
On Tuesday night, it became official: Voters Texased Virginia.
According to The New York Times, with upwards of 95 percent of the vote counted as of Wednesday morning, Youngkin holds an insurmountable 50.7 percent to 48.6 percent lead. Not only that, Youngkin increased the Republican vote in every Virginia county over the 2020 election.
And, as Vice President Harris predicted, that means conservatives stand a good chance of Texasing Congress in 2022 and the White House in 2024. I never knew a state could be turned into a verb (“Californicate” — another useful election coinage — is more of a portmanteau), but darned if the Democrats didn’t pick the best state you could possibly verb.
Don’t think we didn’t notice, either:
The first truthful statement coming out of this Administration ????
— Olori-Ebi (@DavidOFakayode) November 3, 2021
In hindsight, there are also reasons to believe that Kamala’s words — no matter how she intended them — would turn out to be a reasonable prediction. First, consider the change in sentiment in Virginia between 2020 and 2021, at least when it came to how President Joe Biden performed and how Youngkin did.
“Think of it this way: Because Mr. Biden carried Virginia by 10 percentage points in 2020, a Youngkin victory represents a Republican improvement of more than 10 percentage points in exactly one year,” wrote the Times’ Shane Goldmacher.
“Just as worrisome for the Democrats is that of the 36 governorships up for grabs in 2022, eight are now held by Democrats in states that had a smaller Democratic margin of victory in 2020 than Virginia, according to an election memo for donors from the Republican Governors Association. That list includes three of the most crucial presidential battlegrounds: Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.”
Perhaps Virginia could be written off as an anomaly by the Democrats, particularly given the outsized role parental involvement in education and critical race theory played in the election. That’s contradicted, however, by the fact the other gubernatorial race on Tuesday in New Jersey is still too close to call as of Wednesday morning.
Republican Jack Ciattarelli led for most of Tuesday, though incumbent Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy had inched ahead Wednesday morning as late vote results came in Democratic strongholds, The New York Times reported.
While Virginia wasn’t supposed to be close, it was supposed to be a blowout in the same way that a game between the best and worst NFL teams usually is — say, a Los Angeles Rams-New York Jets matchup where the Jets are starting their third-string quarterback: A bashing, but at least a contest between two professional teams.
The expected blowout in New Jersey, meanwhile, was supposed to be more like a college football Division 1 powerhouse’s homecoming game — usually scheduled against an opponent of the caliber of, say, Northern South Dakota State University at Western Butte, to ensure victory. The fact NSDSU-Western Butte is putting up a fight at all is an augury that this was about the Democrats going too far to the left, not just irate parents at school board meetings.
According to the RealClearPolitics polling average, Murphy held a 7.8 point advantage going into Election Day, which was surprisingly close as it was. When the race was first polled in May, the incumbent governor had a 26-point advantage and no poll until the middle of September showed him with anything less than a double-digit lead.
The postmortem for New Jersey might take a while because no one pictured even doing a postmortem on New Jersey. (The national media didn’t even seem to have settled on a correct pronunciation for “Ciattarelli” until maybe last week.) However, as Philip Klein noted in a piece at National Review early Wednesday morning, one of the takeaways from Virginia is that exit polls showed the president was toxic.
“The president is now underwater in a state that he won by double digits a year ago,” Klein wrote. “According to exit polls, 54 percent of Virginia voters disapprove of Biden, compared with 45 percent who approve. But that understates the intensity of the opposition. Exits showed 46 percent ‘strongly disapprove’ of Biden compared with just 23 percent who ‘strongly approve.’ It is simply hard to win elections when the leader of your party is so unpopular.”
What’s more, Klein noted that Youngkin’s victory proved that it’s possible for a GOP campaign to engage both Republican voters who were turned off by former President Donald Trump’s pugilistic style and those who embraced it.
“The challenge facing Republicans was always how to make inroads among suburbanites without losing the passion from other groups that Trump energized,” Klein wrote.
“But Youngkin, even while making gains in the suburbs, outperformed Trump in rural areas. What should be alarming to Democrats is that next year, they will have to run in a lot of states and congressional districts in which the urban/rural/suburban divide is much more favorable to Republicans than in Virginia.”
As Cook Political Report wonk extraordinaire Dave Wasserman pointed out:
Needless to say, tonight’s results are consistent w/ a political environment in which Republicans would comfortably take back both the House and Senate in 2022.
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) November 3, 2021
Kamala Harris would agree, at least a few days ago.
Virginia was a bellwether race, the vice president said. She was right — just as then-President Obama was right back in when he famously told House Republicans opposed to his agenda that “elections have consequences.”
That statement foretold the kind of radicalism Obama would bring to his two terms in office. The Harris statement foretells the kind of political future Obama’s vice president — and his Democratic successor in the White House — can expect.
Mind you, that rhetoric was supposed to get out the vote — but instead, it was a stark reminder that after 10 months of jumping from failure to failure, the Democrats simply didn’t have the political capital to get out the vote.
Forget about merely Texasing Virginia. Tuesday’s numbers show that if the GOP keeps the momentum up, they can Texas a whole lot more of America, too.
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