On Virginia, Dems glum and Republicans excited

This Week: Nov. 1, 2021 The Briefing, Vol. IX, Issue 43

  • Virginia looking grim for Democrats
  • A McAuliffe loss would weaken Biden’s hand in Washington
  • Jersey race far closer than Democrats would like


The Biden effect: Who says things can’t get worse for Joe Biden? And who says his popularity can’t make things worse for Democrats?

At the very moment when his party is about to be judged by the voters in the odd-year elections, and his agenda is about to be judged by Congress, Joe Biden has reached the low-point of popularity in his presidency so far. 

His overall approval rating, based on an average of polls, has sunk below 43%. His approval rating on the economy is also underwater.  His approval rating on foreign policy is underwater by double digits, and his rating on immigration looks even worse than that. The share of Americans who believe the country is headed in the right direction is below 30%, according to the polling averages, and has not been lower since the start of pandemic restrictions in April 2021. 

And if his performance in Virginia last week is any indication, things could still get quite a bit worse for him.

So goes the Senate? Biden’s staff are putting the best face on it possible, claiming that he had “a spring in his step” after his conversation with Sen. Joe Manchin. What they couldn’t say he had was the deal on his social spending bill that is probably key to passing his entire agenda. Manchin’s incentive to cooperate and enact Biden’s agenda is already slim, but a loss in Virginia sends it right to the vanishing point. Why tie the anchor of the Biden administration around your neck? 

That goes double if Democrats lose on Tuesday.

As for losing support by abandoning Biden, that won’t be a problem for Manchin or anyone else. A new poll shows that only 31 percent of Americans even know anything about Biden’s legislation, and that includes all of the conservatives who oppose it. Sixty-nine percent said they know nothing. And despite the insane hyperbole of this bill’s importance, its passage basically doesn’t matter at all. If House liberals weren’t pulling his strings, Biden probably would have agreed to scrap it by now so that he could at least get his infrastructure bill through.

The last time Manchin faced re-election, in 2018, he barely survived in a squeaker of an election. It was about the best he could have hoped for. If he goes along with Biden now, his chances of survival in the next election will be considerably worse.

Manchin isn’t even Biden’s only problem. He also has to stare down. Sen. Kirsten Sinema, whose specific set of demands on the spending proposal is somewhat different. 

Governor 2021

Virginia: Biden’s biggest fear is that an unexpectedly large loss by Terry McAuliffe in Virginia on Tuesday leads to Democrats running for cover everywhere and sending his agenda to the bottom of the Potomac. We now believe this is a strong possibility.

Biden’s visit to Virginia was a disaster for McAuliffe, and might have heard him quite a bit. Biden’s speech made so many references to Trump that it was almost as if he was acting like he wasn’t the president himself. Yes, it’s understandable that a politician is going to use a boogeyman to turn out his base. But there are limits. Most people moved on from the Trump presidency months ago. At the moment, Democratic politicians don’t seem to have any message except to express their nostalgia (as it were) for the Trump era.

That and the message that has shaped the Virginia race — their absolute contempt for parents who are upset about the left-wing indoctrination going on in public schools. McCauliffe’s comments on schools — essentially that it’s none of the parents’ business with their children are being taught in school or how they are being treated — may have sealed his fate. But this has long been reflective of a general sentiment in the Democratic party. “Let our union partners do their job without your interference.” Democrats have focused on school funding to the exclusion of educational substance. 

And the Biden administration’s decision to sic the Justice department on angry parents is doing him no favors anywhere, including in Northern Virginia, where Democrats made such huge gains in recent election cycles. Parents love their children. Even liberal-leaning parents. They get upset when rapes happen in their schools, and even more upset when McAuliffe’s law firm makes bank defending malicious school bureaucrats who let it happen.

The news of rapes and cover-ups and racist indoctrination in Loudoun County schools is red-pilling a lot of politically uninvolved suburbanites right now, and it’s also motivating conservatives to get to the polls.

Last-minute attempts to turn the milquetoast Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin into a raging klansman are transparent absurdities that no one believes. But McAuliffe’s frank, blunt disdain for parents is extremely credible. 

This is why, as of the weekend, it seemed very likely that the Democrats were about to lose in Virginia. Their false-flag stunt involving tiki torch-bearers, intended to evoke the scenes from Charlottesville in 2017, showed that they believe they are losing. That came even before the results of a local media poll showing Youngkin leading McAuliffe by an astounding eight points — the first poll showing any daylight between the two in several weeks.

New Jersey: Democrats have even more than that to fear. The governor’s race in New Jersey, between incumbent Phil Murphy and the relatively unknown Republican former state legislator Jack Ciattarelli, is much closer than anyone expected. The Democrat is still the favorite to prevail in that race, but right now, with Joe Biden dragging all Democrats down by their necks into the abyss, who even knows how low they can go?

Senate 2022

Arizona: Several Republicans, including frontrunner AG Mark Brnovich, have already jumped into the upcoming race against incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly, D. But Senator and NRSC head Rick Scott suggested last week that Gov. Goug Ducey would get in as well. This is considered unlikely at this point. Kelly will be vulnerable either way, but there could be a brutal internecine fight if Ducey does try to get into the race.Georgia: Mitch McConnell and former President Trump are now in agreement that football great Herschel Walker should be the Republican nominee. He has the party behind him — now he just needs to do the work of getting the voters lined up.