When Glenn Youngkin, Winsome Sears, and Jason Miyares take their oaths of office next January in Richmond, it will mark the first time since 2009 that Republicans will be Virginia’s governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general.
The victorious GOP trio’s upset victory on Nov. 2 came just a year after President Joe Biden swept Virginia by 10 points. The trio defeated Democratic rivals by an average of only 1.66 percentage points, according to the latest available official returns.
But that narrow margin was achieved despite multiple campaign appearances in the state for Youngkin’s opponent, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, by Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and former President Barack Obama.
Republicans also regained a narrow 51–49 majority in the Virginia House of Delegates and flipped seven seats from Democrats in the process.
The Virginia results led a wave of GOP wins across the country that sets the stage for the 2022 midterm election, when control of Congress during the last two years of Biden’s term will be decided.
Harris, in a campaign speech during McAuliffe’s final push, declared the election “a bellwether for what happens in the rest of the country in 2022 and 2024 and beyond.” Had she known in advance what would happen on Nov. 2, Harris likely wouldn’t have said that.
In solidly Democratic New Jersey, the contest between incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who was heavily favored to win big, and Republican Jack Ciattarelli was too close to call the morning after voting closed.
Ultimately, Murphy eked out a victory thanks to late returns from Bergen County, a heavily Democratic area. Polls before Nov. 2 had Murphy up by double digits.
Another strong indicator of a Republican grassroots victory nationwide came in multiple state legislative races in which the party’s candidates won seats previously long-held by Democrats.
Besides the Virginia flips, Texas Republicans switched three state legislative seats from Democrats, including one in a heavily Hispanic district in San Antonio that Biden carried by 14 points in 2020.
Two New Jersey Assembly seats flipped from Democrats to Republicans on Nov. 2, while the GOP regained state legislative seats earlier in the year in Connecticut and Iowa. The party also elected a new member of the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court.
Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) Chairman Lee Duncan called the state-level wins “further evidence that the socialist policies being pushed by Democrat-controlled Washington are turning off the very constituencies they claim to be fighting for.”
Elections are almost never decided by a single factor and Nov. 2, 2021, is no exception, according to campaign strategists interviewed by The Epoch Times.
Virginia was ground-zero for a gathering nationwide campaign among parents outraged by public schools indoctrinating their children with lessons based on critical race theory (CRT), according to Heritage Action for America Executive Director Jessica Anderson.
“Last night, Virginia led the nation and took the critical first step in rejecting the left’s cultural and economic agenda,” Anderson told The Epoch Times. “When parents see how ‘woke’ policies hurt their children and their communities, they spring into action, and we saw this first-hand in Virginia.”
“Elected officials across the country should take note: Americans of all political persuasions are fed up with the left’s social and cultural extremism, and they’re voting like it,” said Anderson, who warned in June that CRT would be a decisive issue.
Republican strategist Brian Darling, former counsel to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), told The Epoch Times the results “are a sign that the woke politics of Democrats have driven away swing voters.”
“Just look at the treatment of Sens. [Kyrsten] Sinema [D-Ariz.] and [Joe] Manchin [D-W.V.] to see how Democrats are treating moderates while most Democratic voters are center-left,” he said.
“Already, we are hearing that Democrats are learning the wrong lessons from the election. The left is arguing that they just needed to pass more spending bills and the American people were wrong to believe that public education for kids is migrating toward a hate-America style CRT.”
As a result, Darling expects “the 2022 midterms to be a political disaster for Democrats because the agenda has been captured by progressives intent on driving the party into the ground.”
“They will learn all the wrong lessons from this Election Day,” he said.
Democrat strategist Kevin Chavous remains optimistic about his party’s future, but he told The Epoch Times that Democrats can no longer depend on the Trump factor.
“The Virginia results show us that we can no longer expect to win races based on anti-Trump sentiment alone. Trump lost already, and we must move on as a party and find new ways to energize our voters,” Chavous said. “Democrats need to give voters a reason to vote for us by telling them what we will do if elected.”
Asked on Nov. 3 if Democrats’ congressional strategy will now change, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said simply, “No.”