Longtime Democratic strategist James Carville blamed “stupid wokeness” for his party’s disastrous Election Day showing in Virginia and New Jersey.
Carville appeared on “PBS NewsHour” on Wednesday and was asked how Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the gubernatorial race in Virginia — a state President Biden won a year before by 10 percentage points.
“Well, what went wrong is this stupid wokeness,” said Carville, who was Gov. Bill Clinton’s campaign manager in 1992.
“Don’t just look at Virginia and New Jersey,” he added of the Garden State, where Democratic incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy barely eked out a second term.
“Look at Long Island, look at Buffalo, look at Minneapolis. Even look at Seattle, Wash. I mean, this ‘defund the police’ lunacy, this ‘take Abraham Lincoln’s name off of schools,’ that — people see that,” he continued.
Carville, known as the “Ragin’ Cajun,” said such policies have a “suppressive effect” across the country, and he suggested that progressive Democrats “need to go to a woke detox center.”
“They’re expressing language that people just don’t use. And there’s a backlash and a frustration at that,” Carville said.
Youngkin, a first-time politician, managed a delicate balancing act in Virginia, keeping former President Donald Trump at arm’s length while still courting his supporters.
He also made himself attractive to suburban voters in northern Virginia, following a playbook that concentrated on championing parents’ rights to have a say in their children’s education — from speaking out against vaccine and mask mandates to opposition to the teaching of critical race theory.
“Suburbanites in northern Virginia, suburbanites in northern New Jersey pulled away a little bit. Youngkin never ran any ads against Biden. And I think what he did is just let the Democrats pull the pin and watch the grenade go off on them,” Carville said.
Youngkin had been behind in the polls but began gaining ground just days before the election — with a Fox News survey released last Thursday showing him with an eight percentage-point lead over McAuliffe.
Weeks earlier, McAuliffe was ahead by as much as 11 percentage points.
McAuliffe conceded defeat Wednesday afternoon as Murphy claimed a narrow win over Republican Jack Ciattarelli in their race that was decided by just about 35,000 votes out of more than 2.4 million cast.
Biden won New Jersey in 2021 by 16 percentage points.
The races in Virginia and New Jersey stunned Democrats as they look forward to the 2022 midterms with dread amid fears they’re likely to lose control of the House and Senate.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said the races should serve as a “wake-up call.”
“I just saw it to confirm that we have a divided country … I hope it’s a wake-up call for all of us,” Manchin told Fox News’ Bret Baier on Wednesday. “I’m concerned. I’ve been talking about our debt, I’ve been talking about inflation, [and] I’ve been talking about the [economic] fallout we may have [from the spending bills].”
The moderate Democrat is a key vote in the evenly divided Senate and has opposed some of the progressive policies in Biden’s $1.75 trillion social spending plan along with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).
Manchin said he just can’t get behind the progressive philosophy. “This is a shame when we start this war of words. … We can have a difference of opinion — the rhetoric around here has gotten so harsh and so toxic that you can’t agree to disagree anymore. You can’t sit down and say, ‘OK, I disagree with you.’”
“What scares the bejesus out of me — I don’t hear people saying, ‘This is good for our country.’ It’s more or less on both sides — ‘It’s better for my party, this is better for the 2022 elections.’”
Carville predicted that all is not lost for Democrats but pleaded with them to begin talking “about things that are relevant to people” and “get rid of this left-wing nonsense, this claptrap I hear.”
”But we have got to stop. We have got to get off of this. These people have got to understand they’re not popular around the country. People don’t like them. And they’re voting because that’s the only way that they can express themselves and how much they disagree with this,” Carville said, adding later, ”People don’t want to ride in the car with you. They don’t want to ride next to you in the subway.”