Color me a little bit skeptical, for a few reasons: First, Hillary Clinton didn't narrowly squeak by in Virginia back in 2016; she won it by a relatively comfortable five-point margin. Second, I'm not sure there's a state that's been sliding faster from red to purple to blue in the entire country. In fact, an anti-Trump backlash in the Old Dominion has wiped out the Republican Party in all of northern Virginia, and both legislative chambers flipped to Democratic control in the recent off-year elections. Democrats also control all major statewide offices, including both US Senate seats. Third, on top of all of that, a blue wave crashed across Virginia in both 2018 and 2019 -- with the latter gains coming in spite of a blackface scandal engulfing the Democratic Governor and Attorney General (having an embarrassingly compliant and biased media helps, of course), and amid serious allegations of sexual assault against the Democratic Lt. Governor.
Taken together, these realities seem like electoral outcomes that might be expected in a solidly blue state, not one that is realistically on the board as a potential Trump pick-up in 2020. All that said, a new survey from a fairly respected pollster suggests that the incumbent is quite viable in Virginia as 2020 kicks off:
Mason-Dixon Virginia poll:— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) December 31, 2019
Biden 49, Trump 45
Trump 48, Warren 44
Trump 51, Sanders 45
Trump 47, Buttigieg 45
The poll respondents were 42% Dems, 30% GOP, and 28% independents... and Trump still beats 3 of them.
And Mason-Dixon is a B+ pollster on 538. https://t.co/YlHnU2C0Tm
It's a D+12 sample, which looks about right in a blue-hued purple state, yet Trump holds leads in hypothetical match-ups against all comers...except Joe Biden, who enjoys the strongest favorability rating in the whole group: "Biden had the highest favorability rating in the poll at 51%, compared with 45% for Trump, 36% for Warren, 35% for Sanders and 33% for Buttigieg, the least well-known of the candidates in the survey." Trump's favorability numbers trail the former Vice President's, but outpace the other Democrats' by nine to 12 points. Meanwhile, it's a similar scenario shaping up in Florida:
Florida— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) December 31, 2019
Warren -9 https://t.co/L2B5EdRsYE
The Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy survey of registered Florida voters showed Biden with a narrow 47-45 lead over the president, within the 4 percentage-point margin of error. Biden was the only candidate from either political party with a positive approval rating in the crucial battleground state. Forty-five percent of respondents had a favorable view of the former vice president; 41 percent had a negative view. Trump had a 46 percent approval rating. Forty-seven percent of respondents disapproved of the president’s job performance, the poll found. Among registered voters surveyed, Trump easily bested Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren 51-42 and held comfortable leads over Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont (49-44) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (49-45).
It's data like this that helps explain why Biden has remained a steady national Democratic frontrunner since the moment he announced -- despite much braying from the Very Online Left over his paeans to bipartisanship. Voters think he can beat Trump, which is their priority, and they're operating accordingly. This is rational:
Is anyone going to start taking serious swings at Biden? If he fails to achieve respectable top two or three finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, his lead could falter. It looks like Pete Buttigieg is at least willing to make something of an issue out of the obvious ethical questions surrounding Hunter Biden's overseas business dealings. I'm sure he'll be accused of repeating "Republican talking points," but this is a real vulnerability for the leader of the pack -- who has not handled the matter well, by the way:
Buttigieg going after Biden, says he wouldn't want his son serving on a Ukrainian energy company's board during an anti-corruption pushhttps://t.co/qE9iizHJZc— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) December 31, 2019
I'll leave you with Phil Klein's short and sweet analysis about why the make-nice, patty-cake playing days of the Democratic nomination fight are likely in the rearview mirror.