Featured Image
Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) and Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin (R)Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

(LifeSiteNews) — Just one month ago, the political world was abuzz with predictions for the California recall, arguably the first major election since the still-smoking dumpster fire that was 2020 to captivate a considerable quantity of spectators from across the country. In hindsight, however, the rationale for that buzz may have been hyperbolized.

While conservative radio host Larry Elder swept the expansive field of replacement candidates with nearly half of all votes cast, incumbent Democrat Gavin Newsom still managed to survive the actual recall vote, itself, by more than 20 points. An admittedly disappointing result, yes, but one that seems more and more retrospectively predestined when considering (1) California’s status as one of the deepest, most consistently blue states in America today, and (2) its full-on embrace of mail-in voting, which saw ballots sent to every registered voter in the state (and beyond, according to some claims) prior to Election Day, regardless of whether they requested one and inevitably exposing the final results to a heightened prospect for both human error and, worse, deliberate manipulation.

And yet, with the tarnishing gold dust of the recall finally settled (good luck with that, California), the public’s political focus seems to have shifted almost exclusively to the 2022 midterm elections. And, to a certain extent, this is understandable: Fresh off the fresh hell that was Joe Biden’s disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal, his controversial rollout of federal vaccination mandates, and continued party infighting over an infrastructure bill that actually has next to nothing to do with roads and bridges, Democrats appear more poised than ever to lose not just one, but both of their congressional majorities next year, quite possibly without a single major legislative achievement under their belt – an altogether fascinating development considering they entered this year with a legislative trifecta in place for the first time since 2011.

Likewise, a recent survey from the left-leaning Quinnipiac University shows both Republicans leading the generic congressional ballot 47-44% and Joe Biden’s approval rating tanking to an all-time low of 38%.

As I said, this preoccupation with 2022 is not unusual as is often the case in midterms, Republicans (the out-party) are enthused, Democrats (the in-party) are freaked, and pretty much everyone’s wondering why Joe Manchin doesn’t just switch parties already.

Oh, and almost nobody is talking about Virginia.

Like California, Virginia will hold an election for governor this year. But unlike California, Virginia will, no matter the outcome, elect a new governor, and with a much swingier landscape for candidates to navigate than that of the Golden State (Virginia’s partisan voting index score, which measures how an individual state or district’s voting behaviors compare to the nation’s as a whole, is +2 for Democrats compared to California’s, which stands at +14), the Old Dominion, even for its lack of allure, remains most likely to prove the off-year bellwether for those exceedingly consequential, oh-so-enticing midterms.


Virginia is one of only five states to hold their gubernatorial elections in an “off-year,” or, an electoral cycle that does not coincide with either an annually scheduled presidential election or any other individual federal elections.

Because of this, Virginia (along with New Jersey) tends to get an unbalanced share of media coverage, out-of-state money, and national attention when compared to a state like Pennsylvania, which will, by contrast, host its gubernatorial race next year against a backdrop of 36 other states, and that’s without accounting for U.S. Senate seats (34), House seats (all 435), and state legislative seats (too many to count) that will be up for election across the nation, as well.

That said, Virginia has had far more stimuli to share the spotlight with this cycle than in cycles past, from the spectacle of the second California recall in less than 20 years to the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East thanks to Joe Biden’s incompetence here at home, and even the ongoing budget negotiations in Washington, D.C., that threaten to nudge the United States closer and closer to the edge of the fiscal cliff a phenomenon that became synonymous with the Obama years all over again.

Regardless, Virginia is, without question, the more competitive election of the two (three, if you count California) in 2021, in large part due to (1) the commonwealth’s peculiar rule that bars a sitting governor from running for a second consecutive term immediately following the first, making every race every four years an open one, and (2) Virginia’s general status as a swing state a declaration that, not very long ago, would’ve come as a shock to both the political class and merely the politically-inclined alike.

In 2008, John McCain became the first Republican presidential nominee to lose the Commonwealth of Virginia since Barry Goldwater in 1964, and neither Mitt Romney (2012) nor President Trump (2016 and 2020) managed to flip the state back in the three elections since. Likewise, the GOP has seen little success in statewide elections since Bob McDonnell won his first and only race for governor back in 2009.

This lurch leftward for the Old Dominion can mostly be attributed to exigent demographic changes in the state’s northern territory, most specifically the suburbs surrounding Washington, D.C., which has become, for all intents and purposes, an extension of the city itself. This steady influx of white collar, highly educated bureaucrats, lobbyists, and think tank operatives into northern Virginia has managed, since the turn of the century, to not only strike a balance with the political proclivities of rural Virginia but to effectively overtake them altogether since the 2010s.

In other words, as more elites move into neighborhoods that, while far from inexpensive, remain significantly more affordable for young upstarts and growing families than DC itself, the more likely it becomes that those areas’ voting patterns will reflect the priorities of a crowd which not only personally favors but professionally relies upon a strong, even bloated federal government in order to keep their heads above water, and, in turn, their interests in line.

The result has been something of a renaissance for Virginia Democrats, and now, the party is looking to build upon the successes of the last decade or so by extending their hold on power with strong showings in 2021. And, with only New Jersey an uncompetitive snooze-fest of a race competing for the attention and resources of the national Democrat machine, you’d think the wind would be entirely at their back.

There’s just one thing standing in their way, and you can find him at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Because with a president as unpopular as Joe Biden is at this moment in time (both across the country and in Virginia specifically), Republicans have identified a unique opportunity to turn back the tide in the Old Dominion, and, with less than a month to go until Election Day, they’re more than ready to seize it.

The Candidates

A rather familiar scenario is currently playing out before our eyes in Virginia’s gubernatorial election: A liberal career politician with deep pockets and even deeper ties to the Democratic Party establishment is currently facing off against an outsider Republican businessman who’s never held political office before. The race is, perhaps unexpectedly, tight, but as things stand today, the Democrat is generally considered a slight favorite.

Ex-Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a former DNC chairman and close Clinton associate who won his first and (thus far) only term back in 2013, is looking to make a comeback by winning back his old job – a job which state law prohibited him from keeping for more than four consecutive years. Easily besting a primary field that included Virginia’s current lieutenant governor and three state legislators, McAuliffe has since both campaigned alongside Joe Biden, and as recently as this past week admitted that doing so may not have been in his best interest as, per McAuliffe’s own words, “the president is unpopular here in Virginia.”

His opponent, Glenn Youngkin (by no means a household name like McAuliffe), faced a far more competitive primary, but managed to prevail largely due to the state Republican Party’s decision to nix its traditional primary system in favor of selecting its nominee by way of a convention. While initially controversial, this decision ultimately proved beneficial for Youngkin, the former co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, a global investment firm specializing in private equity, asset management, global credit, and investment solutions. Since winning the Republican nomination, he’s managed to snag the endorsement of all three of Virginia’s most recent Republican governors, and the arguably more influential endorsement of former President Donald J. Trump.

While voters would be mistaken to consider McAuliffe a moderate the way they may have Joe Biden, or, likewise, Youngkin a second coming of Ron DeSantis, there really couldn’t be more that separates the two men on policy, striking a strong enough contrast that, should Virginians get this one wrong, would ensure the damage to their state may well be irreversible.

For instance, a foremost issue of the campaign in its final month is sure to be the lingering question of what Virginia’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 outbreak will look like after the transition to a new administration. On the one hand, McAuliffe has continually voiced his support for the federal vaccine mandate(s) issued by Joe Biden in September, and has even gone so far as to advocate for a state policy that would require all Virginia students, teachers, and healthcare workers to get the vaccine regardless of personal preference.

On the other, Youngkin, who has both gotten the vaccine and regularly encourages Virginians to do the same, has repeatedly rejected the calls for vaccine mandates both at the state and federal levels, and remains opposed to any policy that would force working people to either get the COVID shot against their will or face termination for refusing to comply.

This divergence persists on the ever-relevant issue of life, as well. In the wake of the ongoing legal battle over Texas’ new Heartbeat Law (the Supreme Court ruled it could stand, but a lower court has since blocked it from taking effect in a separate challenge that Texas plans to fight), both candidates have offered diametrically opposed views on the matter neither one of which is entirely there.

While Youngkin, in a rather disappointing admission, claimed he would not have signed a Heartbeat Bill like Texas’ into law as Governor of Virginia, he did voice support for what we called a “pain threshold bill” during the candidates’ first debate. In addition, the Republican nominee, who still claims the pro-life mantle, has labeled his opponent “the most extreme pro-abortion candidate in the United States today,” and it’s not difficult to see why.

McAuliffe, who referred to himself in that same debate as a “brick wall” for the abortion industry, has not once in his decades-long political career wavered from his full-on, no-exceptions backing of unfettered access to abortion at any stage during a pregnancy. He even expressed support for a headline-making, surreally morbid bill that would have legalized abortion up until the moment of birth in Virginia back in 2019. While the former Governor has described himself, à la Joe, as a “strong Catholic,” his support for any and every elective abortion without restriction or regulation suggests his true priorities may lie elsewhere.

In their second debate, the candidates sparred over the role that parents should play in their children’s education, a conversation spurred by the ongoing phenomenon of concerned parents taking to school board meetings not only in Virginia, but across the country, as activist teachers and administrators step up their efforts to inject biased political and identity-based propaganda into their curriculum without properly notifying their students’ parents about the lessons being taught and/or the materials being used.

McAuliffe made no secret about his disdain for parental involvement in such matters, expressing his sentiment that the parents of Virginia students should play next to no role whatsoever in their children’s education an eyebrow-raising premise that suggests, should he win the election, the state-sanctioned transfer of even more rights from parents to government. “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” McAuliffe proudly claimed when asked about whether the state or individual school districts should be responsible for implementing transgender-related policies in schools; a simple statement that sums up the Democrat’s outlook.

Youngkin, however, has long advocated for expanding parental rights in this regard, and building more transparent relationships between parents and Virginia school systems so they can keep in the know about what their children are being exposed to in the classroom. “You believe school systems should tell children what to do,” Youngkin accused McAuliffe, “I believe parents should be in charge of their kids’ education.” Additionally, the Republican nominee has been vocally supportive of the hundreds of Virginia parents who have recently taken to local school board meetings, particularly in hotbeds like Loudoun County, to speak out against radical proposals that seek to advance personal agenda items in classrooms and push the left’s aggressive identity politics narrative on our children.

Critical Race Theory (or CRT), a wide-ranging set of ideas developed by Marxist intellectuals in the 1970s that suggests all of America’s institutions are rooted in systemic racism and designed for the purpose of subjugating the black community, is one of those items, and marks yet another area of departure between the candidates. McAuliffe has been largely dismissive of the objections raised by parents of all races and creeds about introducing this concept in classrooms, embracing his inner Hillary and designating opposition to CRT a “right wing conspiracy.” Conversely, Youngkin, who has spoken at rallies organized by education activists and concerned parents, has vowed to dismantle CRT at the state level, claiming that “to judge one another based on the content of our character, not the color of our skin, means we’re going to ban critical race theory.”

And on the ever-present issue of election reform, Youngkin continues to call for an audit of all voting machines used in the state, even suggesting the potential for annual audits to quell the concerns of voters who remain unsettled by the widespread claims of fraud and irregularity that plagued the nation in 2020, and that are likely to rise again should significant changes to election law fail to be made in the coming years.

McAuliffe, who is known to oppose voter ID requirements, has, of course, buried his head in the sand on the issue of election integrity entirely.

While these issues represent the most visibly present areas of discourse in the dwindling days of the campaign, both McAuliffe and Youngkin have maintained a remarkably steady course in terms of their respective offerings of policy positions, rarely straying from party convention with respect to their outlook on these matters and others that the next Governor will inevitably face regardless of who wins the election.

The Virginia gubernatorial race is a traditional, binary choice between a mainstream Democrat and a mainstream Republican. The only difference is that the new mainstream for Democrats which has now been publicly embraced in its entirety by the party hierarchy consists of a fully manifested devotion to social Marxism, the abandonment of the principles of medical autonomy, and the further transfer of rights away from parents and to the government – an easily recognizable condition for the continued pursuit of the abolition of the family, straight out of the Communist Manifesto.

A simple decision, indeed.

The state of the race

While conventional wisdom initially suggested (and may even still suggest) that the well-known McAuliffe should, by most measures, cruise to a second term in the purple-verging-on-blue Virginia, 2021 has proven a far more difficult hurdle for the former governor to overcome than originally expected, due to both increasing dissatisfaction with the current administration nationally and in the state, and also Youngkin’s ability to successfully capitalize on hot button issues that have rendered McAuliffe unable to shake Republicans’ depiction of him as a socialist lackey who’ll govern like Biden but with a (somewhat) functioning mind.

In fact, the most recent poll of the race, conducted by Emerson College, shows McAuliffe leading Youngkin by only one point, a statistically insignificant advantage that falls well within the survey’s 3.9 point margin of error and marks a notable tightening of the race with less than a month left to go until voters head to the polls.

However, what’s more interesting is what you find upon dissecting those numbers further. As expected, McAuliffe leads Youngkin among black voters by significant margin, but the Republican manages to nab a full quarter of the vote (25% to McAuliffe’s 72%) a significant decrease in black support for Democrats, who, in 2017, carried nearly 90% of the black vote running Ralph Northam instead. (In 2017, black voters made up nearly 20% of the entire Virginia electorate.)

Even more significant is the fact that Youngkin defeats McAuliffe with Hispanic voters a demographic group that Republicans have made impressive inroads with as the bulk of the Democratic Party continues to embrace Cuban/Venezuelan-style socialism here on the home front by double digits (55-45%), even larger his lead among whites (52-45%).

This could mean that, yes, Youngkin is peaking at precisely the right time to stage an upset victory over a former governor who was initially expected to romp his way to victory with little difficulty.

It also signals that, most of all, Virginia’s beginning to look more and more like a race that will be ultimately determined by turnout, and with the enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Democrats widening in Republicans’ favor in the year leading up to the midterms, don’t be surprised if, when all is said and done, Youngkin pulls this thing off.

And even if he comes up short, overperforming among certain demographic groups could spell trouble for Democrats in Virginia and beyond come 2022. Same goes if Youngkin, win or lose, manages to carry certain key congressional districts by margins that could indicate a turning of tables, so to speak, in areas where Democrats would unequivocally need to win in order to hang onto their already slim congressional majorities.

The takeaway? Terry McAuliffe, even more so than Glenn Youngkin, has the weight of the political world on his shoulders, and anything less than a comfortable victory (let alone an outright loss) could spell trouble and even doom for Democrats seeking to merely stop the bleeding in time before voters congregate to determine their fate, and really the fate of the Biden presidency, at the ballot box come 2022.