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Virginia’s Tight Race – The New York Times


Virginia has become a Blue State, with a Democrat having won every race to the top – for president, senator, or governor – in the past decade. But elections there are often close, especially when the national political climate is favorable to Republicans.

Right now, the political climate looks promising again for Republicans. Democrats in Congress are fighting over the legislative process rather than adopting the policies proposed by President Biden. Biden has also looked less than masterfully on several other issues, including Afghanistan, the economy, and the pandemic. His approval rating has fallen to around 45 percent.

Against this backdrop, it makes sense that the Virginia governor’s race – one of two in November, along with New Jersey’s – is so close. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat who previously held the post, is ahead of Glenn Youngkin, a Republican and former business executive, by just a few points in the polls. Enough voters seem undecided whether one or the other could win.

The race obviously counts for Virginia. It will influence state policy on Covid-19, taxes, education, renewable energy and more. The campaign also offers insight into some of the main themes Democrats and Republicans are likely to focus on in next year’s midterm election.

Today I want to look at the arguments the two candidates make to voters. They focus not only on different positions, but also on different issues – a sign that Youngkin and McAuliffe broadly agree on which issues benefit which political party.

Youngkin has a Republican background in a country club, having been a senior executive at The Carlyle Group, an investment firm, and now self-financing his campaign with his fortune. He won the Republican nomination with a pro-Trump campaign echoing false allegations of voter fraud. Since then, Youngkin has attempted to woo swing voters in Virginia, portraying himself as a suburban dad and political underdog whose business savvy will help the economy.

This is his positive message. Much of his publicity has focused on a negative message, trying to tie McAuliffe to what Youngkin calls “the radical left.”

It’s a strategy that has helped Republican congressional candidates win some seats in 2020. Like them, Youngkin focuses on the slogans and positions held by many progressive activists, like Defund the Police or Abolish ICE. McAuliffe does not hold some of these positions, nor do most of the elected officials. Democrats. But in an era when politics has become nationalized, some voters treat every election as a referendum on an entire political party – and they judge the Democratic Party partly on the basis of its top-level progressive wing.

(The Times’ Nick Corasaniti notes that many advertisements in the Virginia race focus on national issues rather than local ones.)

In a Youngkin ad, uniformed sheriffs criticize McAuliffe for accepting “extreme Democrats” endorsement and praise Youngkin’s plan to reduce crime. Another ad airs a radio clip in which McAuliffe answers a question about whether he supports abortion restrictions by saying he will be “a brick wall” for abortion rights. During a debate, Youngkin called the situation on the US-Mexico border “utter chaos.”

Most recently he focused on a statement McAuliffe made during one of their debates, as part of a discussion of school policy regarding gender and sexually explicit books: “I don’t think parents should. tell schools what they should be teaching. (My colleague Lisa Lerer takes a closer look at the role schools are playing in the campaign.)

Youngkin is essentially trying to fight wokeism, knowing that some progressive Democrats favor positions that most Americans don’t – including cuts to police budgets, a relatively open immigration policy, and virtually none. restriction on abortion.

Progressives are quick to say that some of these calls are essentially white identity politics, and it is true. But most of the problems are not limited to race. And accusing American politicians – or voters – of racism is generally not an effective campaign strategy.

McAuliffe’s positive message focused on his record during his previous tenure as governor (before he had to step down as Virginia bars governors from serving consecutive terms). He praises the economy’s performance, the low crime rate and his willingness to work with Republicans. McAuliffe’s negative post attempted to define Youngkin by two issues: Trump and Covid.

Trump lost Virginia to Biden by 10 points, faring particularly badly in the Northern Virginia suburb that voted Republican a generation ago. If the governor’s race is a referendum on the national Republican Party, McAuliffe is likely to win, and linking Youngkin to Trump is hardly an overstatement.

Youngkin won the nomination – decided at a party convention, rather than a primary – in part by appealing to Trump supporters. “President Trump is a big part of why I’m running,” Youngkin said in a radio interview in May (a line McAuliffe’s campaign ran in commercials on several occasions).

Youngkin also played with conservative voters’ skepticism of vaccines and Covid masks – views most Virginians do not share. He opposes vaccination warrants for medical workers and teachers, as well as mask warrants in schools. “Like Donald Trump, Glenn Youngkin refuses to take the coronavirus seriously,” the narrator said in a McAuliffe ad.

Youngkin recognizes that he is vulnerable on these issues. He rarely speaks publicly about Trump anymore, and he points out that he himself has been vaccinated and encourages others to do so, even though he sees it as a personal decision. He even ran a deceptive, logically tortured ad claiming McAuliffe is anti-vaccine.

When you look at the two campaigns together, you see where each of the two parties thinks they are stronger today: crime and the cultural debates that divide for Republicans, Trump and Covid for Democrats.

McAuliffe’s biggest advantage remains the state’s Democratic tilt. His current lead may be small, but it’s still a lead. In the most recent election in Virginia, the polls slightly underestimated the performance of Democrats, notes my colleague Nate Cohn. In contrast, there are still a few weeks left in the race, and the race for governor of Virginia often favors the candidate who is not a member of the presidential party.

Related: Kentucky’s John Yarmuth will not be running again, a sign that House Democrats fear losing their majority.

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One of the biggest trends on the Spring 2022 runway shows, which just ended, was neither an accessory nor a color. It was how many designers presented men and women in what has long been called “women’s clothing”. Raf Simons, for example, showed off skirt suits for him and her. At Marni, the models donned giant floral sweaters. “By the end of the season, it had become so common, it barely marked me,” Vanessa Friedman writes in The Times. “I just saw some clothes.”

Friedman and fellow Times fashion critic Guy Trebay discussed how change reflects societal changes, especially among young people, in self-expression and gender identity.

Some shows in recent years have featured clothing that existed beyond the traditional categories of gendered clothing. But “it was something new. Like… gender agnosticism, ”Friedman said. Brightly colored clothes with flowing fabrics and loose decoration were for everyone.

The trend goes beyond the tracks, added Trebay. “Spend time on social media and you know how easily men adopt traditionally feminine elements of clothing and care,” he said. “It’s no exaggeration to imagine normalizing men wearing dresses or whatever in the workplace.” – Sanam Yar, a morning writer



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