“People get nervous:” The White House is sweating on McAuliffe


“There should be concerns, it’s a close race. If Terry loses, it will scare a lot of Democrats on the hill. It will make people worry about the midterm elections and it will make it harder to get the president’s agenda off the ground, ”said Josh Schwerin, a Democratic strategist who worked as McAuliffe’s political advisor and former press secretary. “People get nervous when we lose this.”

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

A source familiar with the White House mindset said officials had always expected a close race in Virginia, noting that Biden himself suggested that when he stumbled for McAuliffe in late July. Their concerns include the number of undecided voters in the competition, said another source familiar with conversations between White House advisers and the leadership of the national Democratic Party. Virginia has turned Democrat in recent years, but if voters stay on the fence before the elections, Youngkin will give the kind of opening he would need.

“Of course I think the White House is concerned,” said Chris Korge, chairman of the DNC’s national treasury, close to McAuliffe. “When I know Terry like me, this guy is tireless, he never stops, he’ll pull it out. But it will require him to run a near-perfect campaign. “

The fear in the administration is real. In particular, a third person raised concerns about complacency among Democratic voters and promised that much of their job for the past 35 days will be making sure these recalcitrant voters cast their ballots.

“If Democrats, if the McAuliffe campaign, if the coordinated campaign is going strong [get out the vote] Effort that I think will do I think they will be in a great place, ”the person told POLITICO. “But people have to show up. You have to show up and vote. “

McAuliffe, whose second and final debate with Youngkin takes place on Tuesday evening, does not shy away from the warnings. He recently gave interviews on cable television to outline the missions for the Democrats in Virginia and beyond.

Agents in the state compared the early alarm bells to California this summer after polls found Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom narrowly rejects an attempted recall. Newsom successfully branded the effort as a GOP-led recall, labeled its opponents as mini-Donald Trumps, and mobilized Democrats before enlisting its voters.

But Virginia is a much more divided state, and unlike California, not every voter receives a postal vote. Korge and others said they would breathe easier as the Biden administration and lawmakers made progress – and eventually pass the president’s key bills: infrastructure and a party-level social spending bill.

“Honestly, if they pass infrastructure and reconciliation, my comfort level that Terry wins goes up by 1,000,” he said.

Schwerin stressed that while Democrats are likely to be terrified to think that there will be wider implications for Biden’s agenda if McAuliffe loses, that is likely due to other dynamics, including a different electoral base in off-year elections and the lack of a motivational one Anti-Trump feeling. “I think McAuliffe is running a good campaign and he is a good candidate,” he said. “It’s the climate.”

While McAuliffe has worked to tie Youngkin to Trump – claiming that the state’s progress on Covid and the Republican-led economy will be in tatters – Youngkin has largely opposed invitations to nationalize the race. Still, Republicans see more opportunities to capitalize on Biden’s shortcomings to increase voter turnout.

The chaotic and ultimately fatal The US withdrawal from Afghanistan, rising prices for goods and food due to inflation and another wave of migrants to the southern US border keep the GOP optimistic about Youngkin’s prospects.

“Republicans are angry and motivated, and independents are acting more like Republicans than they ever did last year,” said Phil Cox, former campaign manager for Republican Bob McDonnell’s gubernatorial campaign in Virginia, citing a recent public poll that showed that independent voters supported Youngkin overtook McAuliffe by six points. “I think we have the best chances in more than a decade.”

Chris Saxman, a Conservative who is executive director of the non-partisan Virginia FREE group, went so far as to suggest that Youngkin might be “a unicorn candidate” for the GOP.

“He’s new, he’s completely outside of politics. He’s never run for office, ”said Saxman. “Well, he’s coming in here [with his] Open your eyes to what is going on in Virginia and find out what needs to change. ”

Several public polls of voters were within the margin of error, although a Monmouth University poll released Monday showed that McAuliffe retains a five-point advantage over Younkin among registered voters, with 48 percent supporting the Democrats and 43 percent supporting the Republicans Newbie.

These numbers were practically unchanged from the two candidates’ positions in Monmouth’s August poll. While Biden’s approval numbers in the state have lagged, mainly due to the resurgence of Covid-19, respondents put their trust in McAuliffe, who led Youngkin at 41 percent to 28 percent when asked who they would trust more when dealing with the pandemic.

People near the White House said they came to see Youngkin as with Trump over the virus, election security, and January 6 uprising, which they claim, given the proximity of Northern Virginia to the Capitol could be more popular with voters.

At times, they note, Youngkin ambiguously or postponed his answers so as not to offend the party’s grassroots. In a recent interview with Axios, he did not want to say whether he would have voted to confirm the 2020 elections on January 6 if he had been a member of Congress. Youngkin later said he voted for it.

Democrats are also encouraged by its inability to agree on a final message.

“For a Republican to win, his base must be on maximum intensity and our base on minimum intensity,” said former MP Tom Perriello, who ran for governor of Virginia in a Democratic primary and lost.

Perriello said he was cautiously optimistic about Democratic turnout and the campaign and allies’ partnership. He also notes that this will be the first gubernatorial election with extensive personal pre-election and postal voting. Recent polls show that there is still a divide between parties in how people want to vote: most Republicans still plan to vote on election day, and a majority of Democrats said they plan to vote before November 2nd.

“But that doesn’t mean I’m not scared,” Perriello admitted. “Because the commitment to the state and the country is huge.”


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