Columnist argues that McAuliffe lost by employing failed Clinton campaign strategy

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has long been a prominent figure within the Democratic Party, most recently as the 2016 presidential nominee.

One progressive pundit, however, recently argued that the party needs to distance itself from Clinton’s brand of politics.

“A compelling alternative vision”

As Sarah Jones argued in an article published in New York Magazine on Wednesday, the “Hillary playbook does not work” in today’s partisan climate.

The opinion piece came in response to GOP candidate Glenn Youngkin’s upset victory over Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s gubernatorial race.

Although President Joe Biden won the state by 10 percentage points, Youngkin trounced McAuliffe by more than two points on Tuesday.

For her part, Jones speculated that McAuliffe is “an unpopular Democrat who spent years in public life and ran on not being Trump while failing to offer voters a compelling alternative vision.”

That approach, she opined, mirrored the unsuccessful strategy employed by the Clinton campaign in 2016.

“Should have borrowed from Joe Biden”

“To white rural voters, like those in my native southwest Virginia, the linkage of Youngkin to Trump likely proved attractive and I believe it is conceivable that McAuliffe may’ve done Youngkin a favor in these areas,” Jones wrote.

Instead of copying the Clinton strategy, she argued that “McAuliffe should have borrowed from Joe Biden, who in 2020 ran to Clinton’s left and emphasized economic issues on the campaign trail.”

While Biden’s approach might have been enough to get him elected, however, his performance thus far in his term has resulted in a sagging approval rating that appears to be hindering Democratic candidates across the board.

In New Jersey’s gubernatorial race, for example, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy narrowly defeated GOP challenger Jack Ciattarelli, who performed far better than most polls predicted. Former GOP New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman interpreted the results as a warning for Democrats to “get their act together if they want to be taken seriously as a governing party and do something that responds to what the needs of the people are.”

Jones concluded that the takeaway from this week’s elections is that Democrats need to think long and hard about how they approach future races, writing: “The party has to figure out what it stands for apart from its contrast to Trump and Republicans. The best time to do so was years ago. The next best time is now.”

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