In Tuesday’s gubernatorial race in New Jersey and Virginia, Republicans surpassed almost all expectations in results that would have been rejected as nearly impossible by most observers just a few months ago.
Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin defeated former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, after President Biden won there by more than 10 percentage points in 2020.
GOP candidate Jack Ciattarelli early Wednesday morning led incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy by about 1,000 votes with 88% reporting. Biden won this state by almost 16 percentage points.
“No thanks from me tonight for why we lost a Biden + 10 state a year after the election – I will wait for more data and be open to explanations that may not confirm my prior,” Democrat activist and “Pod Save America “host Jon Favreau tweeted Tuesday. “But, wow. Not great! We have some real work to do before ’22 (understatement).”
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“The red wave is here!” That’s what Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel said Tuesday. “Virgos – and Americans across the country – are tired of Biden’s divisive policies, failed leadership and a Democracy Day agenda hurting working families. A Republican wave is coming in 2022, and Virginia is just the beginning.”
In Virginia, Youngkin seemed to have a chance to make the race competitive for most of 2021 in a favorable political environment – with a Democrat in the White House. But McAuliffe still had a strong advantage until the final few weeks before the election, when questions of critical race theory and parental influence in schools merged with Loudoun County, Virginia, in the epicenter.
Fox News’ poll shifted from a five percentage point advantage for McAuliffe to a Youngkin lead of eight percentage points in just a few weeks. Republican Youngkin wins by about two percentage points early Thursday morning with more than 95% of the state’s results in.
The New Jersey governor’s race, meanwhile, was never considered competitive despite the general consensus that Ciattarelli was a relatively strong candidate for the Republicans. Most polls expected Murphy to win by a smaller margin than Biden did in 2020, but that it would be comfortable outside the margin of error.
That was not the case.
With 88% of the vote in Ciattarelli wins by 0.05 percentage points. The Republican may not win, as there is a good chance that the outstanding ballots are postal ballots that could swing the race in favor of Democrat Murphy. But that such a blue state could have such a close run is likely to cause some introspection among Democrats.
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Republicans’ strong performance Tuesday was not just in major gubernatorial races. Republicans turned over a state legislature in San Antonio, Texas, won a state Supreme Court race in Pennsylvania, still have a chance to turn Virginia House of Delegates, and swept the races for lieutenant governor and attorney general in Virginia.
Nationwide margins are likely to force Democrats to reconsider their political approach to 2022 – from how much public spending is too much to whether Biden should be the central figure in their pitch for voters. For Republicans, many take away that everyday problems, such as commodity costs and the quality of schools, can be their winning 2022 handbook.
“Tonight, Virginia led the nation and took the critical first step in rejecting the cultural and economic agenda of the left,” said Heritage Actions CEO Jessica Anderson. “In a state long considered out of reach for conservatives, Youngkin’s victory shows the enduring power of kitchen table issues. When parents see how waking policies harm their children and their communities, they jump in, and we saw this first hand in Virginia. “