"People are going to get skittish": White House sweats over McAuliffe

They know what’s at stake. A loss to Republican Glenn Youngkin in the off-cycle governor’s race could set off a domino effect, with Democrats panicking and thinking it’s 2009 all over again — the year they last lost the state’s gubernatorial race, followed by a wipeout in Congress. Democrats fear the party will lose faith in the idea that Biden’s agenda will help boost their electoral prospects; that they’ll fret about his broader handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, and even question the embrace of vaccine mandates as an electoral cudgel after it found favor with a wide swath of Americans.

“There should be concern, it’s a close race. If Terry loses that’s going to scare a lot of Democrats on the Hill. It’s going to make people worry about the midterms and it’s going to make it harder to pass the president’s agenda,” said Josh Schwerin, a Democratic strategist who has worked as a McAuliffe political adviser and former press secretary. “People are going to get skittish if we lose this.”

“It would be the wrong reaction,” Schwerin added, “but it would be the reaction.”