Virginia elections show voters are rejecting Biden’s progressivism

Gabriella Hoffman

November 8, 2021

Virginia’s 2021 gubernatorial election results stunned American political observers and pundits alike—casting doubt on Democratic Party electoral prospects for 2022 and beyond. 

On Tuesday, Republicans swept all statewide contests —Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General— for the first time in 12 years. Additionally, they flipped a chamber of Virginia’s General Assembly, the House of Delegates, back to the Republican column in a state President Joe Biden won by double digits.

Independents and even Biden voters crossed their way over to deliver a crushing blow to former Governor Terry McAuliffe and his party. And in the process, Republicans made history garnering the most votes for a gubernatorial contest and by voting in the first black woman and first Hispanic into top state governmental positions. 

To understand what exactly has happened in Virginia, it’s important to look back at history. During off-year elections, voters typically elect the out-of-power party. In this case, the Republicans. Voters, here, have greatly soured on the 46th president and feel lawmakers in our state capital shifted too far to the left. They were also fatigued to see the 2020 election rehashed and litigated endlessly by Democrats as former President Donald Trump is out-of-office.

In contrast, voters were greatly concerned about rising gas prices, inflation, education reform, taxes, and similar issues affecting them locally. These results were a clear referendum on Democratic, left-wing policies statewide and nationally. And, as a result, this political upset here in the Commonwealth of Virginia can foreshadow what’s to come in the 2022 midterm elections.  

Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman observed, In VA, GOP House of Delegates candidates outperformed the ’20 Biden/Trump margin in their districts by a median of 12.3 points. If that swing were superimposed nationally, Rs would pick up 51 House seats. That’s how awful the political environment is for Dems right now.”

If true, that’s a grim picture for Democratic prospects to maintain control of the House of Representatives. And even in the U.S. Senate, their chances of maintaining the 50-50 majority look slim if Biden’s unpopularity is maintained. 

As for the Senate map, many 2022 contests have been shifted to “Toss-Ups” in wake of this week’s election results. University of Virginia’s Center for Politics’ Crystal Ball noted, If Biden’s approval rating is in the low-to-mid 40s next year, as it is now, everything we know about political trends and history suggests that the Democrats’ tiny majorities in the House and Senate are at major risk of becoming minorities.” 

While it’s still a year out until the midterms, it’s very possible to see 2010-level upsets shake up Congress in the years ahead. 

National Democrats attribute their loss in Virginia to failure to pass President Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda before Election Day. The president himself echoed this, claiming, “People need a little breathing room. They’re overwhelmed. And what happened was I think we have to just produce results for them to change their standard of living and give them a little more breathing room.” 

That assertion is laughable on its face and not based in reality. The election results and exit polls are crystal clear: Virginia voters rejected progressive policies all across the board – in-state and across the Potomac River. 

National Journal said Democrats latching onto progressive positions will continue to turn off voters, writing, There are many parallels between McAuliffe and Biden, two older politicians figuring out a way to navigate a party where the center of power is rapidly gravitating towards younger, left-wing activists. Both have chosen to pander to their party’s progressive wing instead of confronting the political damage that’s been created.”

Democrats would be wise to moderate their positions—but alas, they are double downing on reimagining the U.S. economy, wasteful spending programs, preservationist climate policies, and other far-left priorities. If electoral defeat doesn’t knock common sense into them, sadly nothing will.  

Some believe the Glenn Youngkin model is a blueprint for national Republicans to replicate to be viable or competitive in swing states going forward. They aren’t wrong. Certainly, it can serve as a template in states like Colorado, New Hampshire, Georgia, Nevada, and New Mexico.    

FiveThirtyEight said that Young successfully straddled “being pro-Trump but not so Trump-y that you repel suburban voters, while also talking about ‘education’ and the economy.”  This has led to some media outlets floating the Governor-elect, who’ll assume office on January 15th, 2022, as a potential 2024 presidential candidate. Let’s heed caution on this front. We just elected him and would like him to serve out his full term.  

If Virginia can lead the way for common-sense, limited government policies, surely other states can too.


Written by Gabriella Hoffman

Gabriella Hoffman is a media strategist and award-winning writer with Young Voices.

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