The headline shouldn’t be read to imply that Glenn Youngkin is some sort of Cheney-esque voice of reason about the election and what followed it. He bit his tongue throughout the gubernatorial primary about whether Biden had been legitimately elected, then finally said “of course” when asked again about it once he was the party nominee and had begun pivoting to the center. Last month he told reporters that he would have voted to certify the election if he had been in Congress on January 6 after dodging that question for a long while too. A few weeks ago he called it “weird and wrong” that attendees at a pro-Youngkin rally pledged allegiance to a flag carried at the insurrection after the media spent a day twisting his arm for a condemnation.
Youngkin’s not some profile in courage, since being anti-truther is clearly in his political strategic interest as he tries to lure in centrist suburban voters. But the fact remains that he’s said the responsible things about the election integrity when pressed to do so.
This guy, on the other hand, has not:
This morning, Terry McAuliffe claimed the 2018 election in Georgia was stolen from Stacey Abrams.
"They took the votes away," he said, one day after saying this kind of talk is "running down our democracy." pic.twitter.com/U1CsMimzX7
— Glenn Youngkin (@GlennYoungkin) October 24, 2021
Amazingly, despite McAuliffe’s strategy of trying to make Virginia’s election a referendum on Trump’s influence on the party and the country, that wasn’t the first time during the campaign that he’s questioned the results of an election.
WATCH: Terry McAuliffe refuses to say George W. Bush was legitimately elected president and defends his claims that the 2000 and 2004 elections were stolen. #VAgov #VAGovRoundtable #BigLie pic.twitter.com/4wQe5SOkkF
— Glenn Youngkin (@GlennYoungkin) October 7, 2021
He too has a strategic reason for doing what he’s doing. He’s desperate to get black voters excited to vote when they’re demoralized about how little Biden has delivered for them. His solution is to treat Stacey Abrams as a martyr of voter suppression whose supposedly unjust defeat in 2018 will surely be repeated in Democratic-controlled Virginia this year if African-American voters don’t make it a priority to turn out. But it is what it is: He’s lying about the integrity of an election for selfish political reasons, which I’ve been made to understand is a very bad thing.
He’s not the only well-known member of his party still pushing this crankery either:
.@HillaryClinton and Louise Penny are doing a book event tonight on Zoom about their new political thriller, with Stacey Abrams as moderator.
Clinton just said she feels "strongly" that Stacey Abrams "actually won" her 2018 race, before pivoting quickly back to the book
— Jane C. Timm (@janestreet) October 19, 2021
“Stacey won” is a more useful message for Republicans coming from the left than it is for Democrats because it’s destined to reduce Trump’s election conspiracy theorizing to a matter of mundane partisan politics in the minds of some voters. There’s an obvious difference between the commander-in-chief of the military trying to cling to power with wild claims about uncounted ballots and rigged machines and blocking certification of the electoral college on the one hand and the also-ran in Georgia grousing that voting was too procedurally difficult in her home state on the other, but lots of Americans aren’t sticklers for detail. And even some who are will be happy to exploit the “tu quoque” leverage McAuliffe and Hillary are providing with their “Stacey won” nonsense for Trump’s advantage. If Trump succeeds in getting a bunch of cultists elected to key state election positions and they contrive to overturn his defeat in their home states in 2024 then his apologists will point back to episodes like this one with McAuliffe and Clinton. If Dems can whine about Stacey Abrams forever, why can’t Trump and his acolytes try to undo an “unfair” result before it’s certified?
Meanwhile, back in Virginia, a Republican polling firm has the race dead even at 48 percent:
President Joe Biden is a millstone around the neck of Democratic candidates. For example, he won Virginia female voters in 2020 by 23 points but the generic Republican for General Assembly in 2021 is only losing female voters by 3 points and McAuliffe only leads them by 5 points. Youngkin has a 4 point higher “very favorable” rating while McAuliffe has a 4 point higher “very unfavorable” rating.
“It’s all been turned upside down in Virginia politics this year. Seventy-one percent of Independents view McAuliffe negatively, and more Democrats than Republicans are defecting to support the candidate of the other party,” Buchanan added.
Interestingly, 98% of 2020 Trump voters are sticking with Republicans while only 91% of Biden voters are sticking with Democrats.
A poll conducted by Kellyanne Conway finds Youngkin ahead 43/41 with 11 percent undecided. Healthy skepticism towards partisan polling is always warranted but neither of these surveys is out of line with the recent public polling. The last two of Virginia, from respected firms Trafalgar and Monmouth, each had the race a dead heat as well.
And even if Conway’s right that a big chunk remain undecided, all signs in Virginia lately are that voters are shifting towards Youngkin. It’s not just Biden’s declining support and the palpable sense of panic around McAuliffe, it’s anecdotal stuff like this:
I’m a lifelong resident of Virginia. @GlennYoungkin’s surge in the Old Dominion is real. One key indicator: I’ve seen Youngkin yard signs in Old Town Alexandria & even in the People’s Republic of Arlington! https://t.co/S0l7qiQcvX
— CesarConda (@CesarConda) October 25, 2021
I saw several tweets like that over the weekend about Youngkin signs turning up in heretofore blue suburban districts. No doubt that’s also a matter of strategy by Team Glenn, wanting to signal to suburbanites that it’s “acceptable” to vote Republican again by asking their neighbors who are backing Youngkin to advertise their support. But greater public support for the Republican is what we’d expect to see if polls are tightening. And we’re seeing it, it seems.
I’ll leave you with this, another shining moment from the Terry McAuliffe archives.
— Team Youngkin (@TeamYoungkin) October 22, 2021