In the Virginia race, election day edition

A few minutes ago — it turned up in my email inbox at 5:14 a.m. (Central) this morning — Politico Playbook provided this blunt update on the Virginia gubernatorial race:

TERRY MCAULIFFE wanted GLENN YOUNGKIN and DONALD TRUMP to campaign together so badly that when it didn’t happen, McAuliffe simply invented a Youngkin-Trump event that didn’t exist.

“Guess how Glenn Youngkin is finishing his campaign?” McAuliffe told a modest crowd outside a Fairfax brewery Monday night at his final rally. “He is doing an event with Donald Trump here in Virginia.”

That was a lie. Trump wasn’t in Virginia and he never campaigned with Youngkin, though he did make the case for the GOP candidate — “fantastic guy!” — during a brief “tele-rally.”

Thirty miles away, at the Loudoun County Fairgrounds, a crowd several times the size of McAuliffe’s was waiting for Youngkin to take the stage. You got a hint of why McAuliffe was desperate to manufacture the fake Trump event. While McAuliffe has boundless energy — “Sleep when you’re dead!” he likes to say — his Monday audiences in Richmond and Fairfax, where we caught up with him, were modest and listless.

Youngkin’s were large and rollicking, with many of the trappings of a MAGA rally — a similar dad rock playlist, hats and flags and T-shirts paying homage to the former president — but, to the great disappointment of Democrats, not Trump himself.

In Richmond on Monday afternoon, McAuliffe hinted at how Trump’s uncharacteristic self-control in not inserting himself more forcefully into the Virginia race had been a bit of a letdown. “I guess from a political perspective, sure,” McAuliffe told reporters, “I think that would be great.” (Though he quickly added, “But for the sake of the country it’s time to move on.”)

McAuliffe’s final message was almost entirely negative, focused on tying his opponent to Trump. Youngkin’s pitch was more complicated. He spent far more time advocating for job training programs, fixing the Virginia DMV, eliminating the state’s grocery tax and admiringly name-checking GEORGE W. BUSH than he did talking about how he would ban critical race theory (a topic he’s leaned on plenty during the campaign to activate the MAGA base, despite the fact it’s not being taught in schools). Youngkin didn’t talk about Trump. (He didn’t have to.)

Still, Virginia is a blue state that JOE BIDEN won by 10 points, and the obvious intensity gap on display in the final days can be deceiving…

Whole thing here.

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