A shocking victory for the Republicans came from battles over education
Virginia is a southern state, but the Republicans haven’t won a Presidential election there since 2004. In 2020, Virginians backed Joe Biden by a margin of ten points. The Democrats should never have lost — and furthermore in picking a moderate and experienced candidate like Terry McAuliffe they didn’t take any chances.
So how did the Republicans win? The decisive issue in the contest appears to be education. In particular the backlash against the teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools (and also their closure as pandemic measure). In the course of the campaign, McAuliffe said “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” Parents evidently disagreed.
Wokeness is a major vote loser for the Democrats, but already there are signs that the party is blaming the Virginia debacle on a lack of radicalism. For instance, here’s senior Democrat Julian Castro on MSNBC suggesting that party should run “progressive” candidates (i.e. politically correct Left-wingers) instead of “centrists”.
I wonder what Castro makes of another shock result — a by-election to the Texas House of Representatives, which is on his own home turf of San Antonio? The district in question is 73% Hispanic and in 2020 it voted for Biden by a margin of 14 points. Last night it went Republican. This is yet another sign that the US Latino vote is shifting conservative. The Democratic dream that demographic change will hand them Texas is slipping away.
Among other worrying signs for the Democrats is the razor-edge Gubernatorial race in New Jersey — a deep Blue state that no one expected to come remotely close to an upset. Then there were the Republican victories in District Attorney races on Long Island, New York — evidence of a voter backlash on law-and-order issues.
Finally, returning to Virginia, it’s also worth mentioning that voters elected Winsome Sears as Lieutenant Governor, the first black woman to be elected to a state-wide office in the “Old Dominion”. She’s also a Republican.
The Daily Telegraph, described the outcome in Virginia as a success for a “Trump Lite” strategy. It might be more accurate to describe it as “Trump Minus” — that is, populism without the misrule of the man himself.
One thing is for sure: an anti-woke and multi-ethnic Republican Party is the stuff of Democrat nightmares.