Is this right? James Carville voices what will be the media’s received narrative if Glenn Youngkin pulls a major upset today in Virginia — an upset that Carville doesn’t believe will happen, he tells CNN’s Anderson Cooper. But if Terry McAuliffe loses, not only will Carville blame it on Democrats in Congress that turned Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill from a win into a loss, Carville will lead a “not one dime more” campaign to punish it:

COOPER: James, you’re a McAuliffe supporter. You’ve helped fundraise for him, many other Democrats as well. How concerned are you? And how important is tomorrow?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I’m very concerned. It’s a very important race, I really want to win it bad. If we lose, I’ll be profoundly disappointed. I think John and Dana have done a good job of setting a table about what’s going on. I would say — and I don’t know how deterrent this is, but I’ve seen exhaustive analysis of the early vote and that does not portend for any Republican tide in Virginia.

Now, the Democrats vote earlier more often than Republicans. But there’s 1.1 million ballots in that by every analysis, I see that are quite favorable to Terry, but, you know, we’ve got two million more to go. So we’ll see, and Dana and John did a great job and these suburbs are going to be all critical.

COOPER: We should point out that is a live rally that Terry McAuliffe is having there in Fairfax, Virginia. I mean, Senator Manchin’s press conference, notwithstanding, all signs are pointing to the House voting on both of those bills this weekend, if that is more or less resolved very soon, do you think that Democrats can actually unite with a cohesive message for the midterms and beyond, James?

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, John, you point out, I said 47 e-mails on behalf of Terry McAuliffe, I’ll probably send more e-mails as much as any three people in the Democratic Party, and I’m not going to send another one or ask anybody for a dollar until they vote on this and pass it.

And I think every Democratic donor ought to say, you know, you give $25.00, tell him, I’ll give $50.00, but I’ll give it after this has passed. I have no idea who is right or who is wrong in this, but we’ve got to move this thing and you know, right now, I think this economy is really good. It really favors workers, and we’ve got to come in and finish this deal and get this thing done.

And that’s our way of, of doing this. No more dinero until we get this thing passed and done.

The mess in Washington hasn’t helped McAuliffe, but it’s a little too cute to lay his problems onto Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, or Bernie Sanders and Pramila Jayapal, either. To the extent that McAuliffe faces DC headwinds, they’re coming from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, as McAuliffe himself conceded sotto voce.

It’s Joe Biden’s confidence-crisis cascade that has Democrats dispirited and Republicans fired up, not an arcane legislative fight over complex policy. Carville and other political geeks (like myself) may get caught up in the latter, but voters only see chaos and instability, and blame the man they elected as the antidote to chaos and instability in Washington. Passage of the reconciliation bill might have alleviated some of that voter angst, but even that’s on Biden for proposing far more than he should have known he could get in a 50/50 Senate and nearly evenly split House.

But even that may be passing the buck in this race. Biden may have become an unpopular president, but that didn’t force McAuliffe to become a bad candidate. His repeated insistence that parents should butt out of education policy would have been a career killer in any environment, but especially in the populist moment in which both parties live now. Biden and Manchin didn’t force McAuliffe to take that position and defend it, nor did Sanders or Jayapal force McAuliffe to give the microphone to teachers union chief Randi Weingarten at the end of his campaign. McAuliffe was a bad candidate who may still well win in a very blue state.

Nevertheless, we can see the formation of the preferred narrative in the media for a Youngkin win. The blame will be laid at the feet of Manchin and Sinema, and used to demand even more radical legislation in Congress. If that’s the narrative that Democrats adopt too, they’d better prepare themselves for more Virginias … assuming they lose this one, of course.

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