VIRGINIA (WDVM) — Tuesday nights’ election results came as a surprise for many as Virginians turned the state red in all three major state races.
The entire country was watching the race between former Governor Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin, and as counties in the state turned from blue to red, political officials are saying the results are a wake-up call for the Democratic Party.
“Democrats should not just be worried, they should be panicked,” said Rich Meagher, professor of political science at Randolph-Macon College. “This is just a brutal beating for them — not just losing all three statewide races for the first time in over a decade, but losing control, it appears, of the House of Delegates.”
Meagher says Youngkin had a strong pitch for suburban voters, focusing on parents concerns in education; whereas McAuliffe centered his campaign on tying his Republican opponent to former President Donald Trump.
“They didn’t have a positive message to voters about, ‘This is why you should vote for us, this is why you should pull the lever for Terry McAuliffe, and not just vote against Glenn Youngkin,” said Meagher.
National politics also played a key role in this race, trickling down into the state level. Dr. Margaret Tseng, political professor at Marymount University, says Democratic failures in Congress may have prompted Virginians to vote for a change.
“President Biden’s approval ratings have dropped significantly. We are seeing things from high inflation above five percent, we are seeing supply chain issues with things not on our shelves,” said Tseng.
President Biden attended an event in Arlington in late October in support of McAuliffe, leaving some to wonder if the appearance did more harm than good for the McAuliffe campaign.
With the state now overwhelmingly red, some are speculating that Virginia’s results have paved the way for another Trump 2024 campaign, but Meagher says Youngkin’s win shows Republicans can succeed without tying themselves to the former president.
“The Republicans might want to look at the opposite message here. Glenn Youngkin distanced himself from Trump,” said Meagher. “They might want to find different messaging, and different people to carry that message than Donald Trump.”
On Wednesday, current Governor Ralph Northam released a statement congratulating Governor-elect Youngkin on his win. Northam says he will begin the process of a transfer of power to the new administration.