Personal observations of the 2021 Virginia elections, and factors I believe contributed to the flip.
As a resident of Southeastern Virginia, I noticed many red Youngkin yard signs appear over the summer in the yards within my neighborhood, as well as my district. I saw a few Terry McAuliffe signs, but not many. After Labor Day, I stopped in the Democratic Party office to get a combined sign, only to find out they weren’t open yet on a Saturday morning. I stopped again a few weeks later, and they were out of the combined signs but were expecting some more in that week. I left my name and number, but was never contacted or received a sign.
The Democratic Party of Virginia held a traditional primary (vs. the GOP holding a convention across 39 satellite locations). Though Terry McAuliffe won the primary, he was not an exciting candidate but he had experience as Governor of Virginia. We had an excellent slate of potentially exciting candidates but the party was behind McAuliffe. In the past, I canvassed for Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA02) because I was impressed with her as a candidate—retired Navy Commander as well as a nuclear trained Surface War Officer. We had a scientist for a candidate vs. a Trump supporting former Navy SEAL. Many of the same people that canvassed for Luria didn’t feel the same drive to canvas for McAuliffe.
Youngkin, a self-made multi millionaire, seems to have deep connections to Southeastern Virginia where he attended school as well as connections in Northern Virginia. He successfully avoided being seen with Trump, but said some of the key phrases to placate those voters like “election integrity” and “ban critical race theory,” he vacillated on whether or not Biden won, and he’s against vaccine mandates. Youngkin canvassers knocked on our door twice in the span of two months (no one canvassed my neighborhood for the democratic candidates). Since Youngkin was a new face on the political circuit, he benefitted from a lot of media coverage.
For many of us the last two years was a massive reset of priorities. Personally, this meant cutting expenses, starting a garden, learning to cook, making do with less, valuing time spent with family and friends at home versus going out, and supporting local stores versus shopping online. My political leanings haven’t changed—I still value truth and science, civil rights, reproductive rights, separation of church and state, and common-sense solutions. I realize some voters are only concerned with taxes—which party will tax them less. However, government incompetence can have a catastrophic impact as we’ve seen with the pandemic. We just hit another milestone – 750,000 dead from Coronavirus.
“We have it totally under control,” Trump told “Squawk Box”co-host Joe Kernen in an interview from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”CNBC.com
What sunk democratic enthusiasm? For me personally: insurrectionists and those that organized/facilitated the insurrection are not being held accountable for the crimes they flagrantly committed on camera. Democracy itself was at risk on January 6, 2021, and we came very close to a coup d’etat. I agree with Chief US District Judge Beryl A. Howell and the Department of Justice needs to treat this on the same level as 9/11. Second, conflicting self-interests within the Democratic Party are stagnating critical legislation. I’m not even sure Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema identify as democrats at this point.
Governor Northam faced controversy early in his administration, and despite calls for him to resign, he stayed. He made the most of his term and enacted critical changes such as repealing Jim Crow era civil rights laws, removal of controversial public monuments, criminal justice reform, abolishing the death penalty, police reform, Medicaid expansion, LGBTQ rights, legalization of marijuana, expanded voting rights, and many more. His management of the COVID-19 pandemic helped keep Virginians safe. His term as governor has been historic. Many of these initiatives were possible with a democratic-led House of Delegates. (Note, Virginia governors are limited to one term.)
I hope democratic leaders learn the right lessons from this election. There’s still time to right this ship, unless the “American experiment” itself is completely broken. The democrats could learn from Governor Northam–make the most of the time you’re in office because there are no guarantees.
TL/dr: McAuliffe was a bad candidate for Virginia. Poorly run campaign dragged down the rest of the ticket. Not enough was promoted about what the democratic House of Delegates accomplished.
Premeditatio malorum – “This is why we say that nothing happens to the wise person contrary to their expectations.” Seneca