In a race that should not even be close, Democrats in Virginia are beginning to panic as GOP political outsider Glenn Youngkin runs neck-and-neck with former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe. And efforts by popular Beltway Democrats like Vice President Kamala Harris and former President Barack Obama to help McAuliffe may be backfiring with voters as tone-deaf messaging only amplifies McAuliffe's weakness.
McAuliffe should be up by double digits in a state that presidential candidate Joe Biden won handily in 2020. As a former governor, he has extensive name recognition statewide as he faces newcomer Youngkin.
Yet as parents have become more aware of the propaganda being taught in Virginia schools, McAuliffe's tone-deaf response was, "I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach."
The backlash has been fierce. It only grew following revelations that a bathroom rape by a transgender student in Loudon County was covered up and the victim's father arrested for speaking out. This after Democrats on the school board passed a controversial policy in August that allowed biological boys to use girls’ restrooms.
Recent polling of parents of K-12 children in Virginia shows Youngkin leading McAuliffe 56-39 among that demographic.
With these issues propelling Youngkin in the race, Beltway Democrats tried to come to rescue. One would think bringing in heavy hitters like the first Black president and the first female vice president would be a grand slam. But Harris is such a poor communicator that she becomes a liability. Obama may remain popular, but his message from inside the Beltway to Virginia voters struck the wrong chord in the real world.
Vice President Kamala Harris took her message of support for McAuliffe to the commonwealth’s churches, on video, of course (fewer gaffes that way). More than 300 Black churches broadcast her video message, in which she explicitly instructed voters to vote for McAuliffe, potentially imperiling the tax-exempt status of participating churches.
It was one step forward, two steps back with the Black electorate. Popular former Governor Doug Wilder, Virginia's first Black governor and a fellow Democrat, took Harris to task for the stunt.
"Well, it’s very good for her to do that, causing these churches to lose their tax-exempt status," Mr. Wilder deadpanned to the Washington Examiner. "If this is legal, then it’s surprising to me."
Harris stepped in it again a few days later, tweeting on October 23 that she and President Biden were releasing their "vision for the future of our nation-one that is a bold strategy and one that the moment calls for."
If voters were hoping for something that would address the concerns that keep them up at night, they were disappointed.
Harris wasn't talking about fixing the supply chain, reining in inflation, securing the border, reducing crime, or getting control of the pandemic. She was announcing the release of her National Gender Strategy.
For Virginia parents grappling with the very real consequences of blue state gender policies, it was a slap in the face. They can't even protect their kids from being raped in the public school bathroom thanks to the left's gender politics.
Ironically, that same day President Obama, while campaigning for McAuliffe in Virginia, told voters, "We don't have time to be wasted on these phony trumped-up culture wars, this fake outrage, [that] the right-wing media pedals to juice their ratings."
Trumped-up culture wars like a National Gender Strategy, released on that very day? Or fake outrage like a child being raped in the school bathroom?
These messages do little to increase support for McAuliffe among Virginia's K-12 parents.
Democrats probably wish they had a popular president they could bring in to be the closer in this race. But after a disastrous town hall and a series of new gaffes this week, (see here here, and here,) Biden is more of a liability now than ever before. Even McAuliffe has admitted, "We are facing a lot of headwinds from Washington."
Of course, McAuliffe may very well still win this race. The densely populated suburbs around the Washington, D.C. Beltway are statistically likely to come through once again to outnumber the votes of the rest of the state.
But the fact that this race is even close is a testament to the weakness of the Beltway messaging that is currently making the Biden administration so unpopular.