Virginia voters face a stark choice between two competing visions for the commonwealth’s future on Tuesday: whether to continue down a liberal path toward California-style policies and values; or whether to follow Florida’s conservative turn.
The two states, on opposite coasts — one left and west, and right and east — have framed national debates over how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, but they have increasingly become symbols of the two parties’ overall vision for the country.
Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin has modeled some of his policies on those of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who kept his state’s economy “open for business” after the initial stage of the pandemic, and who rejects mask and vaccine mandates.
Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe, running for a second term, has moved even further to the left than he was before, championing teachers’ unions and pushing back against parents who oppose transgenderism and Critical Race Theory.
McAuliffe has also borrowed from the playbook of California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), who successfully defeated a recall election in September by tarnishing his opponents as representatives of former President Donald Trump, reviled by liberals.
But while that approach might appeal to some Democrats in Virginia, others are unmoved. Though Virginia was a bastion of opposition to Trump, particularly of the “Never Trump” variety, voters now seem more concerned about President Joe Biden.
Nationwide, Biden’s poll numbers have shifted dramatically in just two months, from positive net approval as recently as August, according to a recent NBC poll. The key event seems to have been the Afghanistan withdrawal, which undermined confidence in Biden’s ability to govern. Many Californians had already cast their votes by the time that disaster took place.
Virginia’s close race reflects that shift, and will decide if California is Virginia’s inevitable fate, or if Florida is still an option.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.