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Oh My: Why Did Virginia Dems Eliminate Their Black Lt. Governor Nominee From Campaign Mailers?

We wrote about the Virginia gubernatorial race yesterday, and that contest has since generated additional attention for two reasons.  We'll get to the second one below, but first, please review this 'before and after' shot of Democratic campaign mailers and see you if you can spot the difference.  It's, uh, not subtle:

Via Erick Erickson:

Oh how Democrats will make excuses for their own side. In Virginia, Ralph Northam is the Democrats’ nominee for governor. He has a black running mate named Justin Fairfax. Except, in Northern Virginia, you would never know that. Justin Fairfax has been memory holed in Northern Virginia. Ralph Northam deleted Fairfax from palm cards being passed out...Now ask yourself how the Washington Post would cover this if the Republicans had memory holed a black candidate like that?

What is this all about?  The Northam campaign says Fairfax was airbrushed away at the behest of labor leaders who objected to the inclusion of a member of the ticket whom they haven't endorsed:

The campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam printed some fliers that excluded a picture of ticket mate Justin Fairfax to accommodate a union that has endorsed Northam but not Fairfax. The fliers appear similar to others that include all three Democrats on the statewide ballot Nov. 7: Northam; Fairfax, the party’s nominee for lieutenant governor; and Attorney General Mark R. Herring. The fliers are handed out by canvassers knocking on doors. In the Fairfax-free flier, created for the Democratic friendly Laborers’ International Union of North America, all references to Fairfax — including his picture — are gone. Those fliers have been used in Northern Virginia. The union requested a flier that did not include Fairfax, said Brian Petruska, general counsel with the LIUNA Mid-Atlantic Region Organizing Coalition, because Fairfax did not complete their questionnaire and “wasn’t supporting us on the issues,” he said.

One Virginia political observer I spoke with earlier said this innocent explanation could well be accurate, but other theories abound, such as speculation that the Democrats deliberately excluded a black man from certain mailers in order to target voters in various regions of the state.  I'm not sure I buy that -- especially since the altered flyers were distributed in moderate Northern Virginia -- but like Erickson, I am quite confident that the outrage brigades would be in full throat if Ed Gillespie's campaign had done something similar.  Speaking of Gillespie, here's the second intriguing nugget out of that race.  Remember when we highlighted quotes from Democrats in the state expressing their increasingly-panicked concerns about Northam's standing?  One wonders how they must've reacted to this fresh poll that broke last night:

That's a six-point swing since last month.  Yes, all the usual caveats about outliers apply here -- although the Washington Post's eyebrow-raising result in the other direction seemed more out of line with the race's tightening trend.  But Monmouth's findings apparently roughly mirror the Northam camp's internal numbers, which reportedly show a margin-of-error race.  I'll leave you with a skeptical take on Monmouth's sample, followed by a stark reminder about the fallibility of very recent political polling:

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