Key takeaways from Tuesday’s election: bad omen for Democrats
The gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey tend to receive inordinate attention, and the results are exploited for deeper meaning than what they portend for the following year’s midterm elections that determine which party controls Congress.
Here are some key points from Tuesday’s election:
NEAR VIRGINIA IS BAD FOR DEMOCRATS
The most-watched election of the year, the Virginia governor’s race, was too early to be called Tuesday night. This is a bad sign for Democrats in 2022.
President Joe Biden won Virginia by 10 percentage points just a year ago, and if Democrats can’t generate more enthusiasm than their gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, they will likely be swept from power in the Congress.
In Virginia, governors are limited to one term and elections are held in odd-numbered years, making it the benchmark for voter sentiment before mid-terms. It’s usually a warning to the ruling party in Washington, and this year has been no different.
McAuliffe, elected governor of Virginia in 2013, has been unable to excite voters amid the significant headwinds facing Democrats, including numbers from Biden’s declining polls, congressional deadlock on the President’s economic program and the persistence of the pandemic.
Democrats only have a margin of five votes in the House and one vote in the Senate. The historical pattern is also clear: the party that holds the White House almost always loses seats in the first term.
YOUNGKIN SHOWS THE WAY TO THE GOP
The diversification of states with a large chunk of college graduates like Virginia has been an intractable puzzle for the GOP during the political era dominated by former President Donald Trump. But Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin seems to have cracked the code.
A former private equity executive, Youngkin introduced himself as a non-threatening suburban dad in a fleece vest. He kissed Trump just enough to win the GOP primary and increase the party’s base, but was also able to target more moderate voters by talking about budget management and investing in schools and campaigning without the former president in his hands. sides.
According to AP VoteCast, a survey of voters, this has paid off. While a majority of voters still disapproved of Trump, about half approved of Youngkin.
Look for more Republicans next year, try to model yourself on Youngkin in the swing zones – refusing to disown Trump but not hugging him too close, and tailoring their messages to both the most die-hard voters in the world. former president and persuasive commuters.
TARGETING EDUCATION ON RACING
Youngkin’s signature problem was unexpected: education. He prevailed on the issue by pledging to both increase funding for education and hammer public schools on burning social issues like race and transgender rights.
He said he would ban the teaching of critical race theory in Virginia classrooms, even if it is not part of the high school curriculum.
Critical Race Theory is an academic framework that focuses on the idea that racism is systemic in nation’s institutions and that they function to maintain white dominance. In recent months, it has become a catch-all political buzzword for teaching in schools about race and American history.
The focus comes after lengthy school closures during the pandemic infuriated some traditionally Democratic voting groups and Conservatives have targeted school board races nationwide to hide the rules and teach about racial justice issues . In Virginia, 14% of voters cited education as a priority issue, and about 7 in 10 of them voted for Youngkin.
McAuliffe did not use it when, in a debate, he said, “I don’t think parents should tell schools what to teach,” giving Youngkin a crucial opening to hammer away at his opponent. .
Youngkin also highlighted a controversial case of rape in a high school toilet in wealthy Loudoun County, N. Virginia, to oppose allowing transgender students to use a toilet of their choice.
LIBERAL VOTING LAWS ARE NOT BAD FOR THE GOP
Democrats took control of all parts of the Virginia government in 2019 and gradually began to liberalize the state’s election laws. They made postal voting accessible to everyone and demanded a 45-day window for early voting, among the longest in the country. This year, they passed a voting rights law that made it easier to prosecute for blocking access to ballots.
Trump in 2020 attacked efforts to expand access to ballots during the pandemic, disseminating baseless fraud allegations.
Republican-controlled states have rushed to tighten voting laws, cut early voting hours, restrict postal voting, and argue that liberalized elections encourage fraud and help Democrats. This latter claim contradicts repeated studies which have shown that postal voting does not favor any political party.
Now, Virginia’s election is another example of how liberal election laws don’t hurt Tories.
SILVER DEMOCRATIC LINING IN NEW JERSEY?
The governor’s other big run on Tuesday was in New Jersey. Polling stations closed an hour later in the state, where Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy is frontrunner in his race against Republican Jack Ciattarelli. The race is too early to call.
Democrats will look to the Garden State for signs of hope. If Murphy is doing better than McAuliffe, it may be a sign that their woes were more specific to Virginia. Murphy was also able to respond to many Liberal priorities, such as increasing government funding for preschool and large-scale community college. As such, he might offer more of a model of the position Democrats might occupy next year if they embrace Biden’s agenda.
DO NOT INTERPRET TOO MUCH
There are still 12 months until Election Day 2022. While Tuesday’s results contain clues as to what could happen, they are only clues.
The two biggest brakes on Democrats right now are the persistence of the coronavirus pandemic and supply chain issues that have driven prices up. Both could improve over the next 12 months, potentially strengthening the ruling party – or they could get worse.
There are signs Democrats may pass Biden’s infrastructure and social safety net legislation soon. Most Wall Street forecasts point to robust growth next year.
The U.S. Supreme Court is due to issue an opinion on an abortion case next June, which will determine whether the Conservative majority upholds or overturns Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that affirmed the right to abortion.
It could pass debates over masking and racial justice courts in schools as quaint relics of Election Day 2021.
So dig into tonight’s results, but they are by no means final. A lot can and probably will happen over the next year.
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