Speed Reads

elections 2021

How Youngkin advisers would have campaigned against Youngkin

Knowing thy enemy is a gift — one Terry McAuliffe's gubernatorial bid has been blessed with just a bit too late, thanks to Politico.

The outlet on Thursday shared an excerpt of its interview with the top two strategists of Republican Glenn Youngkin's winning campaign for Virginia governor, who shared how they would have handled things had they been working for the Democrat of the fight. Their answer, writes Politico, "speaks to the [critical race theory] debate that the two parties are having."

"I would have hit us on education first a lot harder than they did," one strategist, Kristin Davison, told Politico. "That's actually what I was afraid of for most of the time, annoying everyone about it." She argued that McAuliffe focused so much on former President Donald Trump, and abortion, and even climate change — "it's like they literally took the Rolodex of all the base issues and tried to hit us as being extreme on them" — when what they should have done was strike an education-related blow to Republicans first.

"Democrats are very good at painting Republicans as being bad on education, saying we're going to fire teachers and cut pay," Davison explained. "Having been governor before, [McAuliffe] had a record there. He should have hit us first and disqualified the issue."

Now, Politico argues there are two key takeaways to Davison's commentary: For one thing, it reveals Youngkin's advisers were preparing to lean into a Democratic issue since January, for fear Democrats would have their traditional leg-up. But what it also perhaps illustrates is that the race was truly about education, and "not [critical race theory], which was only important to a small subset of voters."