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Opinion: 2021 election a setback for Democrats, not truly a win for Trump

Nov 04, 2021


Republicans are celebrating a big win in the race for Virginia governor with Glenn Youngkin defeating Terry McAuliffe. However, this outcome is not a clear victory for Trump Republicans. Youngkin won while distancing himself from Donald Trump, appealing to voters who did not come out for the former president.

At the same time, allegations of rape in Loudon County fueled debate over schools and had a big impact on the outcome of this election. So what does this mean for Republicans and Democrats with the midterms just one year away?

Earlier this week, two states had elections for their new governors, Virginia and New Jersey. By now I’m sure you know, that the results were, were not good news for the Democrats.

In New Jersey, which president Biden had carried by 18 points just last year, have a almost virtual tie between the Republican and the Democrat nominees. It’ll probably go to a recount. Although right now the Republican is slightly ahead. The results in Virginia were even more far-reaching. Biden carried the state by 10 points last year. The Republican candidate for governor, Glen Youngkin, uh, won the state by two. That’s a 12 point swing. In addition, the Republicans swept all three statewide offices in Virginia, and they recaptured the state house of delegates, the lower house of the Virginia assembly. That’s quite a win. 

This is all going to have an impact on how the Democrats deal with their congressional agenda.

No one is going to be happy within the Democratic party. 

The leadership is going to come out and make statements on the need for unity. 

The moderates are going to come out and say that the reason there was a loss was that the Democrats had followed too radical, an agenda, and the left within the democratic caucus is going to say they didn’t get votes because they didn’t go far enough in delivering to their constituent groups.

The odd thing is they’re all right, but how exactly you short that out and give everyone something that they want is just going to make their job tougher on the hill. Although it was bad news for the Democrats. In a much more subtle way, It was also bad news for Donald Trump. You see neither of the candidates who win, who won, excuse me, were very Trumpian in their, uh, outlooks, um, Youngkin in Virginia was called Trump handpicked candidate by his opponents.

Well, you know, it just didn’t kind of mesh up with the way things actually happened. Um, there was a reason why, uh, he was attacked that way. 

Trump’s popularity is underwater in Virginia by solid double digits. 

Um, but the Republicans knew that too, and in the primary they chose Youngkin because he was not tied to Trump. 

One of the candidates he beat was a woman who called herself a Trump in high heels and certainly acted the part  during the, during the primary. Youngkin came from behind and won.  In addition, temperamentally, Youngkin is the product of Bain capital while an entrepreneur who built his own business. Like Trump can be a little bit of a mischief maker. You don’t get ahead in an organization like Bain capital by being that way, you try to reduce your rough edges.

And in fact, a Youngkin reminded me of another head of Bain Capital who went on into politics, and that was Mitt Romney, hardly the model of a Trump candidate.

But it doesn’t end there. 

It turns out that Youngkin got a bigger percentage of the vote in rural Virginia, a very bedrock part of Trump’s base. Uh, then Trump had last year.  In addition, the turnout in all of those areas rose significantly from the last gubernatorial election.  

So running a candidate who is not Trumpian for the Republicans turned out to be a success, both in keeping Trump’s voters in the tents and also increasing turnout that is not good for Trump as a future candidate. 

But the real story in Virginia goes to a related issue. And that has to do with schools. This is something we talked about a few weeks ago. There was an incident in Loudon County, which is actually the richest county in America, where a young woman, ninth grade, was raped, in the girl’s bathroom by a young man who was wearing a dress. That’s how we got in there. Well, the superintendent of schools at a school board meeting denied that the incident ever happened. He said he had no record of it.

When the father started to protest and say, but it did happen to his daughter, the head of the school board said he was delusional. He was then arrested, carried out in handcuffs, and given 10 days, although the sentence was suspended. Well, that story wasn’t widely covered in the press, but it had big national ramifications.

The National School Board Association used that as a reason to write a letter to attorney general Garland, complaining about the threat that parents pose to school board members. No one was really threatened. The guy who was just mad. And it turns out that that letter was drafted quote with the help of the White House. Well, that’s a little bit suspicious, isn’t it? 

And then two days later, the woman who signed the letter on behalf of the school boards got appointed to a presidential commission. It all hangs together in the way things hang together in Washington. 

Well, this created quite a stir.

The Democrat nominee McAuliffe said that parents should not be in telling schools what to teach their children. Well, this wasn’t very popular with independents or Republicans, but it turned out it was popular with Democrats. It became a wedge issue.

Former president Obama came to Virginia, the campaign, and he said that a Youngkin was using children to advance the right-wing agenda. 

Another Democrat columnist in Washington said that the events happening in Loudon County, the protest, recalls white race politics. 

Well, frankly, a lot of parents don’t like thinking that their concern about their children’s safety while in school should be considered either a right-wing agenda or racist. 

So Northern Virginia, around where the incident happened, swung dramatically. In the previous election, Joe Biden carried these counties by 474,000, which was more than enough to swamp, Trump and the rest of the state. This year, that vote margin was cut in half to just 244,000. And  lo and behold, the Republican nominee went on to win by 70. Parents were mad. 

So in addition to rethinking the agenda, it’s probably a good idea for Democrats to rethink their rhetoric. Nobody likes to be insulted. 

Nobody likes to be called a racist, and no one likes to be called advancing someone else’s right-wing agenda particularly when their children are involved.

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