White women voters may have made the difference for Republicans in Virginia’s high-profile gubernatorial race Tuesday, swinging by double digits towards the GOP and giving the party a potentially winning playbook in future elections.
For some Democrats surveying the wreckage from a bad night, the 13 percentage point swing towards the GOP among white women — fueled by a 37 point shift among white women who didn’t go to college — was the number in NBC News exit polls that stood out among a sea of bad ones.
“That white non-college woman is very sobering,” said Scott Kozar, a Democratic consultant who worked on the Virginia lieutenant governor and House of Delegate races.
Democrats had attributed much of their victories in 2018 and 2020 to driving up their margins with women, helping propel the party to control of Congress by tilting key districts away from their previous Republican slant.
But that tide appears to have receded.
The startling shifts enabled Republican Glenn Youngkin to cut into Democrats’ margins in the booming Virginia suburbs and run up the score in conservative rural counties, providing the formula for GOP success in a state that has steadily trended blue since former President Barack Obama snapped a decades-long Republican winning streak in the commonwealth in 2008.
Youngkin made schools and “parents rights” the centerpiece of his campaign. And his party is already picking up the baton, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announcing Wednesday that Republicans plan to introduce a “parents bill of rights” in Congress soon.
“He put together a coalition where he did even better than Trump did with base voters and rural voters, and he improved a lot in the suburbs, where Trump was toxic,” former Virginia Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock, a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump, said on MSNBC. “Which is why he closed that gender gap to single digits, instead of Trump’s yawning gender gap.”
For a month, FBI agents listened in as two members of a white supremacist group discussed their sinister plans: a plot to use a pro-gun rights rally in Richmond, Virginia, to engage in mass murder and attacks on critical infrastructure, which they believed would mark the start of a racial civil war.
Patrik Mathews, a former Canadian Army reservist illegally in the U.S., and Brian Lemley, a Maryland resident and self-described white nationalist, fantasized about the brutal murders they'd soon carry out against law enforcement and Black people, all with the goal of bringing about the "Boogaloo," or the collapse of the U.S. government in order to prop up a white ethno-state, according to recordings of the pair's discussions.
"We need to go back to the days of ... decimating Blacks and getting rid of them where they stand," Mathews said in one recording. "If you see a bunch of Blacks sitting on some corner you f***ing shoot them."
"I need to claim my first victim," Lemley said in another recording. "It's just that we can't live with ourselves if we don't get somebody's blood on our hands."
MORE: Inside the neo-Nazi hate group 'The Base,' which is the center of an FBI investigation
The two men were each sentenced in late October to nine years in prison, and ABC News has now obtained newly released audio from the FBI's secret recording of Mathews and Lemley at their Delaware residence in late 2019.
The tapes offer a chilling look into the private plotting of the two members of "The Base," a white supremacist extremist group that the FBI says has, since 2018, recruited members both in the U.S. and abroad through a combination of online chat rooms, private meetings, and military-style training camps. In their plea agreements and at sentencing, Mathews and Lemley both acknowledged their membership in the group.
After the two men were arrested in January 2020, just days before the Richmond rally was set to take place, law enforcement found tactical gear, 1,500 rounds of ammunition, and packed cases of food and supplies in their residence.
In the course of their investigation they also found that Lemley and Mathews had both attended military-style training camps with other members of The Base, and had built a functioning assault rifle that they tested out at a gun range in Maryland.
The recordings captured by the FBI included Mathews and Lemley discussing potential acts of terror they could carry out around the Richmond rally that would lead authorities and, eventually, the U.S. government, to capitulate to the chaos and bloodshed taking place.
"You wanna create f***ing some instability while the Virginia situation is happening, make other things happen," Mathews said. "Derail some rail lines ... shut down the highways ... shut down the rest of the roads ... kick off the economic collapse of the U.S. within a week after the [Boogaloo] starts."
"I mean, even if we don't win, I would still be satisfied with a defeat of the system ... and whatever was to come in its place would be preferable than what there is now," Lemley said. "And if it's not us, then you know what, we still did what we had to do."