Let’s get one thing straight. Terry McAuliffe doesn’t care about Donna Brazile’s new book Hacks and its allegations of corruption of the DNC at the hands of Hillary Clinton. McAuliffe says “nobody cares” about it. In fact, McAuliffe cares so little about it that he continuously talks over NBC’s Katy Tur when she attempts to ask questions about it, and tries to shut down the discussion before Tur plays a Brazile soundbite. Because no one cares, and Democrats will win everything today, McAuliffe insists, starting at the 3-minute mark (via RealClearPolitics):
KATY TUR, MSNBC: I want to ask you about Donna Brazile and the allegations that are coming out in her new book. There’s a lot of people on both sides of the issue here saying that the DNC is completely rigged. There are other saying it’s not rigged at all, this is completely just the way politics works and people are making too a big deal over it. The fact of the matter is it’s in the news, it’s casting a negative spotlight on the Democratic party. I mean, you have to have some concern about how that’s going to play out in Virginia. Correct?
GOV. TERRY McAULIFFE (D-VA), FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Nobody cares.
TUR: Nobody cares? Let’s listen to Donna Brazile. One more time on This Week.
McAULIFFE: Nobody cares what’s Donna Brazile has said in a book. Nobody.
TUR: Governor, one second. Let’s listen to Donna Brazile.
DONNA BRAZILE: For those who are telling me to shut up, they told Hillary that a couple months ago, you know what I tell them? Go to hell. I’m going to tell my story.
TUR: You don’t think anybody cares about her story?
McAULIFFE: Nobody cares. You know what they care about? They care about beating Donald Trump tomorrow, they care about beating Ed Gillespie. Not one person in Virginia who is looking for a job, wants to get healthcare, making sure their kids get a quality education. I mean I know everybody in Washington in the little bubble loves to talk about this stuff. I did not get asked. I met thousands of people this weekend canvassing, not one single person asked me. They want a job, they want education. Not someone who wrote a book.
Do voters in Virginia “care” about Brazile’s exposé? It’s currently #4 on Amazon’s overall top sellers list, which probably includes no small number of Virginians among its buyers. Worse, its target market goes right to the heart of Ralph Northam’s strength in northern Virginia — the counties with the most connection to Washington DC. (Voters in redder areas of the state probably don’t have any interest in Brazile’s perspective about the DNC, except for the schadenfreude it delivers.) Voters who do care will concentrate in the very areas where Northam really needs to run up the score.
If the question is whether they care enough for it to change their votes all by itself, the answer is … probably not. As McAuliffe says, voters tend to care most about the policies that will impact them personally, as I reported in my book Going Red. That, however, is also why aiming at Donald Trump is a mistake for Democrats, or at least a distraction from the retail politics McAuliffe references. One cannot use Trump as a GOTV motivator without voters remembering how Democrats lost to him in the first place — and the DNC’s corruption by Hillary Clinton is the best proximate cause to emerge.
The big risk here isn’t that Brazile’s book will change votes from Northam to Gillespie; it’s that soft Northam supporters will simply stay home, especially in NOVA. The more McAuliffe and Virginia Democrats make this a referendum on Trump, the more it will emphasize how they sold out to the Clintons in the first place — and that’s in a cycle where Democratic turnout will not likely be as high as last year anyway.
If Democrats blow it today, don’t say Tur didn’t warn them:
TUR: If Democrats don’t win tomorrow are you going to be concerned about the future of the party? I mean — take yourself out of it a second. If Democrats don’t win, outside observer, Democrats can not win in Virginia tomorrow, a swing state, where Donald Trump did not win. Donald Trump is not popular right now, they can’t win. Are you going to be concerned about the messaging right now and the leadership right now in the Democratic party?
McAULIFFE: Katy, all I’m telling you, we are going to win all three. I feel as confident about this as I have ever felt about any race. I have been out there. I have done over 40 events myself. I mean, Katy, you’ve got to enjoy life a little more. I mean it’s not so bad. Come move to Virginia, things are great here.
Odds on McAuliffe being on tomorrow if Gillespie wins — 7:1 against.