Seven months into the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic with no end in sight. Heath experts, who are the only ones left we can trust amid all the political partisanship and posturing, say we could see the need for masks, social distancing and other safety measures remain with us though the end of next year.
The extreme right wing that dominates the White House and Senate, claim the pandemic is all just a hoax and will end if Joe Biden wins the election on Nov. 3. We see the same garbage locally on social media and shouts from pickup trucks flying Confederate flags and QAnon decals on their back windows.
I saw a large QAnon decal on the back window of a pickup of someone I know this week. All I could do was shake my head because I knew of his willingness to believe in conspiracy theories and all things Trump. Adding QAnon to his list of fantasies was not unexpected.
Absentee voting began in Virginia and at the Floyd County Courthouse in Floyd Friday. Absentee voting no longer requires an “excuse” to cast a vote weeks before the election, and we plan to exercise that right next week. Election day is always busy for me, so I’ve always had a valid excuse to vote absentee.
Virginia’s status as a “swing state” that brought campaign appearances in the last three presidential elections is over. The Old Dominion is now considered a solid Democratic vote for president, and we are seeing no campaign appearances scheduled by Joe Biden or Donald Trump and the airwaves are quieter than normal with fewer ads on the presidential race.
“No TV ads, no presidential visits,” The Washington Post declared Friday. “Virginia’s era as a swing state appears to be over.”
The paper reports:
The last time presidential candidates stayed out of Virginia and off its airwaves was 2004. The state was reliably red then, having backed Republicans for the White House every year since 1968. Now Virginia seems to be getting the cold shoulder because it’s considered solidly blue.–The Washington Post
“Virginia was the belle of the ball in 2008, and again in 2012, and still once more in 2016, but in 2020, the commonwealth is a wall flower,” Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political scientist, tells the Post.
“There’s really no discussion about the state being in play,” said Amy Walter, national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “If you’re Ohio or New Hampshire, or Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, you’ve always been in that spotlight. Virginia got it for such a short period of time.”
Such news, of course, does not sit well with a solidly red political area like Southwestern Virginia, which voted for Trump overwhelmingly in 2016 and expected to do so in 2020.
Drove by a small group of Trumpies waving their signs in front of the county courthouse early Friday evening. They seem smaller in number than last year but Floyd County is a solid block of GOP votes, no matter how off the wall a candidate might be.
Northern Virginia, our home during the 23 years I spent working within the political system for some of those years and as a freelance reporter for most of the other ones, carries the bulk of voters for the Commonwealth, along with Tidewater.
However, they go control the totals in Virginia, which leaves the right-wingers in the Southwestern part of the state out of the loop.
Trump’s campaign claims it has a “ground came” operating in Virginia with supporters going door to door. Former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe dismisses that claim as nothing but typical Trump hyperbole.
“The only ground game he’s got going on is 18 holes on the golf course,” McAuliffe says.
Biden’s campaign says they are not taking Virginia for granted, even though Clinton won the state in 2016, as did Barack Obama in his previous elections.
“It’s probably a bluer state, but our campaign just isn’t running that way. We aren’t taking a single vote for granted, especially in this unprecedented environment,” says Chris Bolling, Biden’s Virginia director, noting the pandemic.
“Virginians, I think, are really looking for leaders that will deliver and will take action,” adds Gov. Ralph Northam.
Farah Stone, polling director for Virginia Commonwealth University, says Biden has held a double-digit lead over Trump in most polls in Virginia, which is why Trump’s campaign, strapped for cash in the closing weeks, is spending its money elsewhere.
“When you’re getting consistent double-digit leads over time, I guess you just want to try to put your efforts where they seem to make sense,” Stone told the Post.
The death of liberal Supreme Court icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg Friday could make abortion is major issue in the closing days of the campaign because Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell is vowing to let Trump pick another conservative justice before the election, reversing a position he held in 2016 when he blocked Obama’s chance to appoint a new justice when conservative Antonin Scalia 10 months before that year’s election.
Could that give Trump an advantage in Virginia?
Doubtful. Polls show a large majority of Virginians are “pro-choice” and want abortion to remain legal. Those voters helped Democrats take control of the General Assembly and the governor’s office.
In about six weeks, we should know if those feelings remain.