Published September 7, 2021
Virginia has become a Democratic-leaning state over the past decade, which gives former governor Terry McAuliffe a leg up in his effort to get his old job back. The polls, however, suggest that it might not be a slam dunk.
Republicans could have handed the race to McAuliffe by picking an ultra-Trump nominee, such as state Sen. Amanda F. Chase (Chesterfield). That would have been a kiss of death in a state that is home to many Never-Trump Republicans, and which backed President Biden by more than 10 points in 2020. They didn’t, however; instead, they picked wealthy businessman Glenn Youngkin.
Youngkin is able to self-fund his campaign and has been ubiquitous on the airwaves since he was nominated. His soft-focus ads tend to make the case that as an outsider he’s more likely to bring needed change than McAuliffe, the most insider of politicians imaginable. This is also a classic way of introducing a new candidate to voters, in that it presents unifying themes rather than the type of divisive hot-button topics that those from both parties’ extremes like to push.
Henry Olsen is a Washington Post columnist and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, studies and provides commentary on American politics. His work focuses on how America’s political order is being upended by populist challenges, from the left and the right. He also studies populism’s impact in other democracies in the developed world.