November 3, 2021

Virginia Governor’s Election

Glenn Youngkin won the Virginia governor’s race early Wednesday, tapping into culture war fights over schools and race to unite former President Donald Trump’s most fervent supporters with enough suburban voters to become the first Republican to win statewide office here in a dozen years.” AP News

Here’s our previous coverage of the race. The Flip Side

See past issues

From the Left

The left laments McAuliffe’s loss, and urges Democrats to govern effectively and change tactics on cultural issues.

“Terry McAuliffe, a lifelong Democratic operative, is not a generational political talent.  But Washington also didn’t give McAuliffe much material to work with. As I write, we are on month… 3… 4… 17?…of congressional Democrats saying they’ll pass a monumental pair of bills any day now…

“[Meanwhile] Republicans in Virginia, and Washington, recognized the anguish schooling brought parents during the pandemic, and worked backwards from there… McAuliffe’s biggest misstep of the campaign may have come in a late September debate when he said the words, ‘I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.’… It’s impossible to know which combination of these factors finally did Terry McAuliffe in.”
Jim Newell, Slate

“On the one hand, there are clear and compelling arguments to be made for teaching kids very directly about the nation’s scarred past. Texas children ought to know that the original constitution of the Republic of Texas protected slavery and barred Indians and ‘Africans’ from becoming citizens. New York children ought to learn that suburban developments barred Black people from buying homes. This is not ‘critical race theory’ — an academic concept not taught in elementary or high schools. It’s just history…

“But some of the premises of that theory have in fact gained currency — for instance, the idea that certain widely admired attributes are rooted in ‘whiteness.’ It’s not hard to pump up the fears of conservative or moderate white suburban parents that such a critique amounts to an attack on some basic, and seemingly colorblind, American values…

“If Democrats believe that the passage of an infrastructure program and a large social spending bill will provide the ammunition to repel a new GOP-launched culture war, they are deluding themselves. If you weigh the concerns of parents with their kids’ education against a subsidy for electric cars, or a better rail system some years down the line, the scales will tip pretty heavily to one side.”
Jeff Greenfield, Politico

Others note that “while Youngkin used the specter of critical race theory to appeal to the base, his TV ads aimed at swing voters had a broader focus. In those, Youngkin conveyed concern about the state of the economy and the state’s education system more broadly…

“The result certainly looks grim for Democrats, but its importance can be overstated. If Vermont (Biden +36), Massachusetts (Biden +33), and Maryland (Biden +33) can elect Republican governors, and Kentucky (Trump +36) and Louisiana (Trump +19) can elect Democratic governors — and they all currently have them — then surely it’s not all that strange that Virginia (Biden +10) can elect a Republican. Virginia gets outsized attention because there are hardly any other high-profile contests in the November after a presidential race.”
Andrew Prokop, Vox

From the Right

The right celebrates Youngkin’s win, seeing it as a blueprint for GOP success in 2022.

The right celebrates Youngkin’s win, seeing it as a blueprint for GOP success in 2022.

“The fact that parental rights in education became a central campaign issue shows that populism is still a potent element in U.S. politics. And in the Republican Party, even with Trump out of the White House, populism — not conservatism — remains the GOP’s principal identity… Tuesday’s result provides more evidence that Biden’s win last year had more to do with Trump fatigue than a rejection of Trumpian policies…

“In future elections, not every Republican will be lucky enough to have an opponent say aloud that parents should stay out of decisions involving their children’s education. Instead, Republicans will have to rely on the rest of the Youngkin blueprint, which is particularly applicable in swing states: Embrace Trump’s populism and many of his programs, while keeping the man himself in the background.”
Gary Abernathy, Washington Post

“Most Republican parents are supportive of students being taught about America’s complicated and often ugly past. They are supportive of teaching about a more diverse array of stories and historical figures and favor giving a more complete picture of the good and the bad these figures did in their lives…

“Some 77% of Republicans and 96% of Democrats alike agreed that ‘we should acknowledge the terrible things that have happened in our nation’s history regarding race so students can learn from them and make the future better.’ To be sure, parents are divided and alarmed over anything that seems to be deterministic about race, such as telling children their skin color will shape their future…

“But they are also alarmed by the learning loss that happened during the year that children were kept out of the classroom, worried about the effect of taking school resource officers out of public schools, upset over efforts to gut Gifted & Talented education, and, as a result, want to have more say and choice in their child’s education. That’s not just ‘critical race theory,’ and dismissing all concerns around educational quality as code for a debate over race won’t serve Democrats well.”
Kristen Soltis Anderson, Washington Examiner

“Incredibly enough, Youngkin improved on Trump’s margins in rural areas, and the exit polls showed him besting Trump among white women without a college education. On top of this, he made gains in all geographic areas of the state. The result suggests that the party’s grip on rural areas and small towns may be enduring even without Trump on the ballot, whereas the scale of the losses in the suburbs was a reaction to Trump himself…

“Youngkin’s win, and the other wreckage around the map for Democrats, presumably makes passing Joe Biden’s reconciliation bill even harder and signals a bleak midterm election cycle ahead for Democrats. But his victory could be most significant in showing a path ahead for the GOP.”
The Editors, National Review

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