Douglas Andrews / November 3, 2021

Virginia Is (Still) for Republicans

Glenn Youngkin flipped a reliably blue state by being his own man and focusing on the issues that mattered most.

“All righty, Virginia, we won this thiiiing!”

And so they had. Republican upstart Glenn Youngkin declared victory in the Virginia governor’s race and, in doing so, marked the end of Terry McAuliffe’s political career and the end of the Clinton Era in Democrat politics.

Youngkin began by thanking his wife, and then thanking the Lord for steering her toward him. Then he thanked his kids. Then he thanked his fellow Virginians. His victory speech was pitch-perfect and forward-looking. “There’s no time to waste,” he said. A rookie politician and the former CEO of The Carlyle Group, Youngkin comes across as funny, smart, energetic, decent, charismatic, and non-threatening. This last attribute may have won the day, especially in helping him cut into McAuliffe’s margin in the Democrat stronghold of Northern Virginia.

As the editors at National Review noted: “What Youngkin needed to do was obvious if not necessarily easy — unite Trump and anti-Trump voters, and maintain big Republican margins in rural areas while eroding Democratic margins in the suburbs. He succeeded brilliantly.”

That he did, and in doing so he provided an electoral blueprint for Republican candidates in Democrat-leaning states going forward. The editors continued:

Youngkin realized his coalition had to consist of voters firmly attached to Trump and those turned off by him. He welded them together by avoiding criticisms of Trump while maintaining an arm’s length from him personally, taking care to brand himself as a relatable and inoffensive suburban dad, and — importantly — emphasizing the cultural issues around education that resonated with and motivated both pools of voters.

In the run-up to Election Day, McAuliffe called in the big guns. But to no avail. President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, former President Barack Obama, and professional race-baiter Stacey Abrams all came to Virginia during the closing days of the campaign, and all of them failed to drag McAuliffe’s Clintonian carcass across the finish line. Youngkin, on the other hand, campaigned by himself, armed only with his intellect and his command of the kitchen-table issues that mattered to Virginians: the economy, the schools, and the pocketbooks of an overtaxed citizenry.

Education was behind only the economy in terms of importance to Virginia voters, and, according to a Fox News analysis, voters who saw education as the most important issue went for Youngkin by a whopping 71-29 margin.

“We’re going to press forward with a curriculum that includes listening to parents’ input,” he said during his victory speech. “A curriculum that allows our children to run as fast as they can. Teaching them how to think, enabling their dreams to soar. Friends, we are going to reestablish excellence in our schools. We are fighting for parents and students and teachers in our schools.”

What does Youngkin’s victory mean nationally? Kamala Harris gave us a glimpse during her trip last Friday to Roanoke. “Every four years,” she said, “when this election happens … it’s a tight election, it’s a close election, and it is a bellwether for what happens in the rest of the country. … What happens in Virginia will in large part determine what happens in 2022, 2024, and on.”

We think she might be onto something. Just last year, Joe Biden carried this supposedly solid-blue Commonwealth by 10 points, but last night, Republicans ran the table. In addition to Youngkin’s win, Winsome Sears — a Jamaican immigrant and a retired Marine — won her race for lieutenant governor. In doing so, she became the state’s first woman of color to be elected to statewide office. In addition, Republican Jason Miyares, the first Cuban-American elected to the Virginia General Assembly, knocked off Democrat incumbent Mark Herring to become the first Virginia attorney general in 225 years to be the child of an immigrant. The Republicans also appear to have flipped control of the commonwealth’s House of Delegates.

So much for the Democrats’ “diversity” card. Clearly, their playbook of winning elections by playing the race card is getting old.

McAuliffe, who finally conceded at around 10 a.m., shamefully spent his final hours campaigning on a literal lie — namely, that his opponent, Youngkin, was finishing his own campaign together with Donald Trump. Trump did endorse Youngkin, but he never once so much as set foot in the state during the campaign. Utterly bereft of ideas and accomplishments, McAuliffe ran against a nonexistent Trump, and the voters kicked him to the curb.

Youngkin, on the other hand, ran a relentlessly positive campaign, and his likability spells trouble for the Democrats and their mirthless media cheerleaders, whose denialism, gnashing of teeth, and rending of garments became more apparent last night as reality began to settle in. It was a beautiful thing to see. On CNN, Nia Malika-Henderson chalked Youngkin’s win up to “white identity politics,” and Van Jones wondered whether we’re seeing “the emergence of the Delta variant of Trumpism.” Their fellow lefties on MSNBC were no less disconsolate: Joy Reid called the likable and eminently decent Youngkin “dangerous,” and Nicolle Wallace refused to believe her lying eyes, claiming that Critical Race Theory “isn’t real.”

Republicans’ big win in Virginia wasn’t confined to the top of the ticket, either. In the House of Delegates, Republicans have picked up seven seats, giving them control with a 52 to 48 majority.

The Virginia earthquake was the big story last night, but it wasn’t the only one. To the north, in deep-blue New Jersey, a state that Joe Biden carried by 16 points, Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli is in a dead heat with incumbent Democrat Phil Murphy, who’s pulled ahead by a whisker as of this publication and will likely win because late-counted votes always seem to favor Democrats. Ciattarelli, though, flew under the radar and exceeded expectations across the board in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than a million voters.

Update: Murphy did indeed win with a surge of late-counted ballots. He was declared the winner after taking a lead of about 19,000 votes out of 2.4 million cast.

Clearly, Democrats have a lot to worry about between now and next November’s midterm elections. Their standard-bearer, Joe Biden, is deeply unpopular, and in the issues that matter most to voters — the economy, illegal immigration, crime and punishment, and education — Republicans are favored by significant majorities.

Next November is still a year away, but it’s no stretch to say that another shellacking is on the horizon.

(Updated.)

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