Image via SwingLeft.org

Virginia's weird off-year elections will be held tomorrow, and the polling remains extremely close between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin. McAuliffe served one term as governor already but couldn't run for reelection, because Virginia doesn't allow consecutive terms, because did we mention Virginia is weird? Youngkin is a first-time candidate and former CEO of the Carlyle Group, who jumped into the campaign by arguing with a straight face that people with business experience are exactly who you want running government, because apparently mass amnesia is a real thing in politics.

Youngkin had been trailing McAuliffe in most polls until roughly the last month, when he started getting boosted by increasing rightwing insanity over schools, with Fox News and other outrage spigots pushing the notion that school boards are forcing critical race theory into face masks and then forcing children to wear the masks while chanting "White People are all evil but you can't hear me because I can't breathe through this mask full of CRT!" We understand that some in the scientific and historian communities believe this to be untrue, but they haven't been able to say so because of the armed militias surrounding their homes.

And then Merrick Garland arrested all the parents as domestic terrorists but let them out in time to vote.


What we are getting at is that there is a lot of fear and paranoia firing Republicans, who love Youngkin's promises that he'll end mask mandates and eliminate the teaching of critical race theory in public schools, which will be pretty easy since it's a college-level discipline that already isn't being taught in schools. Youngkin has been very careful to try to appeal to Trump voters by vaguely supporting all the Trumpy shibboleths, like "election integrity," without getting too close to Trump himself, lest he turn off suburban voters who still can't stand Trump. Virginia went for Joe Biden by 10 points in 2022, but as CNN data reporter Harry Enten notes, Biden's own declining approval ratings in polls seem to be dragging down McAuliffe's numbers.

That said, Enten adds, the polls are almost all in margin of error territory, and the "accuracy of poll averages in past gubernatorial elections is such that a double-digit win by either candidate is actually within the 95% confidence interval of results." A close vote is still the most likely result, and after last year, it's likely that even once all the votes are counted, Republicans will still insist there was massive fraud, even if Youngkin wins. That is because we are all still in hell.

Also too, the same general but not absolute trend in midterm elections tends to apply in Virginia's off-year elections: The party that won the presidential election tends to lose, although that's not an absolute — McAuliffe himself won his election in 2013 after Barack Obama's reelection in 2012. And with COVID, the capture of the GOP by Trumpism, and of course the fact that we're living in a computer simulation programmed at Arkham Asylum, past trends may not mean much of anything now.

McAuliffe's campaign had been hoping that Donald Trump would be unable to resist coming to Virginia to hold a rally for Youngkin, but somehow, people around Trump have either managed to explain why that's a bad idea, or at least to wave enough shiny promises of new 2020 recounts in front of him to keep him distracted. Trump is still expected to hold a "tele-rally" tonight, but Youngkin says he won't be logging in.

"I haven't been involved in that," he said. "But the teams are talking, I'm sure."

The last days of the campaign have focused on culture war issues, with Toni Morrison's novel Beloved somehow becoming a vitally important shorthand for the fight over "critical race theory." You see, back in 2013, an innocent white child in Advanced Placement English had to read a novel by a Nobel Prize winner that suggested slavery was bad, and that's why Virginia needs to elect Glenn Youngkin. We suppose maybe the anguished rightwing mom has a point, since the book messed him up very badly and now he's an attorney with National Republican Congressional Committee, which truly is a terrifying outcome if it was caused by reading the novel.

In conclusion, we still think Youngkin is too close to Trump to win Virginia, but it's all going to depend on getting people to the polls, so for Crom's sake, Virginia Democrats, get your butts out and vote if you haven't already.

And then we can all watch the stupid lawsuits, which will be a permanent feature of all elections from now on. We mentioned the hell thing, right?

[Politico / CNN / NPR / Five Thirty-Eight]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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