In an election with implications far beyond its borders, the state of Virginia on Tuesday elected Republican businessman and political newbie Glenn Youngkin as governor, ending a decades-long trend of Democratic domination of statewide offices and trouble for that party’s fortunes. indicated. In the midterm of next year’s Congress.
“Together we will change the trajectory of this Commonwealth,” Youngkin told a crowd of supporters at a victory ceremony early Wednesday.
Youngkin bested Democrat and former governor Terry McAuliffe with 50.7% of the vote, who received only 48.6% in his bid to leave the job after stepping down in 2018 due to term limits.
Republicans were successful in all races statewide, winning the offices of attorney general and lieutenant governor. Winsome Sears, a conservative Republican, became the first woman of color and the first woman of color to win election as lieutenant governor in the Commonwealth’s 400-year legislative history. Republicans were also set to retake the House of Delegates, one of the two chambers of the state legislature.
Biden seen as a drag on McAuliffe
The race, which lasted more than nine months in Democrat Joe Biden’s first year as President of the United States, was widely seen as a sign of public sentiment toward the president and his party. Biden easily led Virginia last November, beating then-President Donald Trump by 10 percentage points.
Currently, however, Biden’s approval rating has fallen into negative territory, with just over half of Americans expressing disapproval of his performance, which analysts say could be a drag on McAuliffe’s campaign.
“Since August, Biden’s national position has weakened,” Kyle Kondick and J. Miles Coleman wrote Wednesday morning in an analysis published by the Politics Center of the University of Virginia. “This fall, along with the usual odds facing the president’s party in out-of-the-year elections, helped Youngkin’s 12-point net improvement over Trump’s 10-point loss in Virginia last year.”
Warning Signs for Democrats
The result in Virginia is a warning sign for Democrats in Washington. They have struggled to agree on how to pass key elements of the president’s domestic agenda, albeit by a very small margin, despite controlling both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The party is in danger of losing control of both houses of Congress in next year’s elections.
In another warning sign, Phil Murphy, the Democratic governor of New Jersey, was locked in a tight reelection battle with Republican challenger Jack Ciatarelli. The result will be decided by a small fraction of the votes, which are yet to be counted. Murphy was expected to win easily.
Kondick and Coleman wrote, “Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ)’s surprisingly close race in the low-profile and still-uncool New Jersey gubernatorial contest also indicated that the poor Democratic climate led to the party’s poor 2021 Election Night.” was the main driver.” .
a way out for republicans
The Virginia race shows a viable path out of Trump’s shadow is a viable path for the Republican struggling, who maintains an iron grip on the party’s base, despite low favorability ratings with the general public.
While Youngkin acknowledged Trump’s support, Youngkin did not campaign with the former president, and rarely mentions him in his public remarks, while McAuliffe uses every opportunity to portray Youngkin as a Trump retainer. did. Throughout the campaign, Youngkin, a wealthy investment businessman, walked a very narrow path, projecting the image of a friendly suburban father, with warnings about hot-button issues to simultaneously fuel the anger of the former president’s base. provoked.
Youngkin was able to successfully drive out Biden voters in the suburbs of the state’s largest urban areas. For example, in Northern Virginia, Youngkin received 35% of the vote in Fairfax County, where Trump won only 28% of the vote last year. In neighboring Loudoun County, Youngkin received 44.5% of the vote compared to Trump’s 36.5% last year.
Early in the campaign, Youngkin declined to say whether he believed Biden had won the presidential election, placing himself in line with Trump, who claims that despite abundant evidence to the contrary, The 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. Youngkin eventually admitted that Biden legitimately won.
The ‘flattering’ devotion to Trump proves inexplicable
The Republican Party can take some lessons from the results in Virginia, said Jennifer Ann Victor, an associate professor in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University in Virginia.
“First, Republicans can win without Trump on the ballot,” she said. “And Republicans may win with some imitation of Trump and Trump ideas, and maybe even some Trump tactics, but a direct, almost flattering relationship with Trump isn’t necessary to get some benefit.”
Victor said he hopes the 2022 Republican nominee will use the lessons learned from the Youngkin campaign.
“Democrats are going to be at a structural disadvantage in 2022, and the president’s party usually loses seats in the mid-term,” she said. “So, if Republicans use the Youngkin playbook in 2022, I think it will work fine for them.”
critical race theory
Throughout the campaign, Youngkin expressed fears that Critical Race Theory, an academic discipline taught in law schools in Virginia’s public schools, was being taught. The doctrine is, in fact, not part of the state curriculum, but has largely been mixed with arguments over whether the more controversial aspects of American history—particularly slavery and “Jim Crow” racism—should be taught in schools. Is.
Jim Crow refers to structural racism that was common in the Deep South for much of the 20th century. Jim Crow laws mandated segregation policies targeting black people in the South.
Over the past year in Virginia, school board meetings have regularly been interrupted by white parents condemning schools for lessons, they claim, blamed about the country’s historical treatment of minorities to white children. Teach you to feel.
Youngkin focused his concerns, pledging to “ban” critical race theory from state schools. Late in his campaign, he ran a controversial ad featuring a woman who claimed that her son suffered severe psychological distress after reading a book handed out in an English class about slavery. The boy was a senior in high school at the time, and the novel Beloved, a novel by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, was a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.
Analysts believed McAuliffe damaged his own chances when, in a debate with Youngkin in September, he downplayed parental concerns, saying, “I don’t think parents should Schools should be told what they should teach.”
Trump takes credit
Despite Youngkin’s efforts to distance himself from the former president, Trump took credit for the victory, crediting it to supporters pushing his “Make America Great Again” slogan, which he abbreviated to MAGA.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, he said, “I want to thank my BASE for coming to force and voting for Glenn Youngkin. Without you he would not have been closer to winning. The MAGA movement is bigger and bigger than ever. Stronger than ever. Glenn will be a great governor. Thank you to the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and especially to our incredible MAGA voters.”
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