Virginia, No Longer A Democrat Stronghold, Could Be A Roadmap For GOP In The Next Election

 September 3, 2023

A ballot box showdown this year, may very well take place in Virginia rather than Kentucky, Louisiana or Mississippi, the three states with high-profile, off-year gubernatorial elections. The state of Virginia is holding pivotal contests for legislative control in November, and Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin hopes to roust Democrats out from their last stronghold in Richmond. If Republicans succeed in Virginia, it would cap a remarkable electoral comeback.

If Youngkin together with the GOP, is successful, he might be able push forward a conservative agenda, in a state that has been trending blue over the past two decades. The effect would be to boost Youngkin, toward a potential White House run. More importantly, the results in Virginia would be seen by the GOP, as a predictor of next year’s presidential election, as well as the battles for control of the Senate and House.

Youngkin, in a recent interview, reportedly said-

"The most important election in the nation, I believe, is Virginia this year,"... "We are laser focused on holding our House, winning our Senate."

-Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin

Snapping a streak of 10 straight GOP victories in the Commonwealth, in White House contests dating back to 1968, former President Barack Obama carried Virginia in the 2008 presidential election. Democrats have also won six straight Senate elections dating back to 2006.

Youngkin, a first-time candidate, however, came from the GOP’s business wing, obviously inspired the Virginia GOP with his 2021 upset of former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Republicans, also swept statewide contests for lieutenant governor, and attorney general winning back the state’s House of Delegates.

Further Youngkin’s gubernatorial campaign, struck a nerve with voters, making parental rights in their children’s education, a literal centerpiece of his bid for office. Instantly harnessing this practical concept, served to build a road map for Republicans going forward.

Mark Rozell, Dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, in his comment regarding Younkins fast break on the scene, reportedly said-

"In 2021, Glenn Youngkin latched onto key bread and butter issues that matter to people in their daily lives,"… "The whole play on the education issue, that parental rights are absolutely key, worked very well in swing areas of the state, particularly suburbs and exurbs that had been trending Democratic."

-Mark Rozell, Dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University

Virginia’s success in 2021, prompted the expectation that a red wave in 2022 would be seen. However, the waved turned out to be a trickle in races across the country. In Congress, the GOP flipped their easiest House target in Virginia, but fell short of expectations as Democrats successfully defended two other contested congressional seats. Focusing on November's elections, Democrats in Virginia have been sounding the alarm that their national party hasn't been doing enough to push back on Youngkin and his GOP allies.

When Republicans win back the state Senate majority, securing total control of Virginia's government, Youngkin’s to-do list will ambitiously include passing a controversial 15-week ban on abortions, with exceptions for rape, incest and saving the life of the mother.  Democrats have been spotlighting the issue, which has helped them at the ballot box in elections across the country since the Supreme Court's conservative majority, overturned the decades old landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.

Virginia Democratic Party chair Susan Swecker emphasized in a recent statement-

"The Senate blue brick wall was the only thing that stopped us [in] the last two years from banning abortion in Virginia. We cannot turn the whole state government over to the MAGA party,"

-Virginia Democratic Party chair Susan Swecker

Of last year’s midterms in Virginia, Rozell said-

"the abortion issue, more than anything, gave a lot of firepower to the Democratic grassroots and brought out younger voters." …adding [abortion] "is the key issue for Democrats… there's a lot of energy there. Much of that is due to the perception that what has happened in a number of other states might be coming to Virginia."…[this year’s election] "can offer some important previews into dynamics that will animate 2024."

"In a purple state with vast, reliably Republican rural districts, Democratic-voting cities and close suburbs and sprawling exurbs that tend to be a moderate mix, nationalized issues such as abortion, guns, LGBTQ+ concerns, race as well as public school curricula and library censorship issues hold major importance,"… "Those are already prominent among 2024 congressional campaign issues in addition to the economy, national security and immigration."

-Mark Rozell, Dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University

Seizing on parents’ rights as it relates to Virginia’s children, focused on a very natural response to an important role, and met voters where they were. For Younkin, the instantly harnessing of this practical concept served him well, and resonated with parents on both sides of the Isle. Supporting parents in their role and not excluding them, provided a collective goal, that all parents can appreciate. Will see how Virginia’s pattern of election focus helps the GOP.

“The best security blanket a child can have is parents who respect each other." 

-Janet Blaustone
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