McAuliffe, a former governor, brought his own baggage to the race. A well-known figure in Virginia with strong ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, he did not give voters the fresh voice that political newcomer Youngkin offered. But the losses by McAuliffe and other down-ballot Democrats in a state Biden won by 10 percentage points in November – along with a closer-than-expected New Jersey governor’s race – left no doubt that Democrats are now in a weaker position.
Signs are pointing to a shift to Republican gains next year, said Steve Shepard, the senior campaigns and elections editor at Politico.
President Joe Biden has struggled to get moderates and progressives to sign off on his legislative agenda. At the same time, prices for consumer goods, food and fuel have shot up – with voters largely blaming the party in power.
Youngkin capitalized on those troubles and worked hard to separate himself from Donald Trump, but Trump took credit for Youngkin’s win, citing the electoral strength of his passionate base.