Mood test in the USA: Republican Youngkin triumphs in Virginia – Sensitive election failure for Joe Biden
Washington In the US, the first political sentiment test this year ends with an election failure for the US Democrats. In the east coast state of Virginia, the Republicans have regained the office of governor after more than a decade. The gubernatorial elections in New Jersey, another state believed to be safe for the Democrats, also look tight for US President Joe Biden’s party.
The elections in Virginia and New Jersey have nationwide implications, as the government crisis in Washington seems to be shaking the first bastions of the Democrats.
In Virginia, the Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe ran against the Republican Glenn Youngkin. Both have very different profiles: McAuliffe is a seasoned politician who has served as Virginia governor. The multimillionaire Youngkin is a career changer from the private sector and a major donor to the Republican Party. The 54-year-old was supported by Trump in the election campaign, but is not considered a close friend of the ex-president.
Now Youngkin becomes the first Republican in twelve years to win the Virginia state government. He got 51 percent of the vote, his democratic opponent 48.9 percent.
Top jobs of the day
Find the best jobs now and
be notified by email.
In New Jersey, Republican candidate Jack Ciattarelli was also just ahead of incumbent Phil Murphy with 50.6 percent to 49.2 percent in the early morning. Around 75 percent of the votes were counted at this point. Postal voters can still change the picture.
So it should be little consolation for the Democrats that one of their 110th mayor of New York City will be. The 61-year-old Eric Adams, former district mayor of Brooklyn, prevailed in the vote in the city of eight million against his Republican opponent Curtis Sliwa. He will be the second black head of New York City from January. Adams was considered a moderate candidate who wants to lead the highest office with a course between left and centrist forces.
But since the New York election brings far less political weight to the stage than the elections in the two states, it cannot hide the fact that President Joe Biden is in deep crisis a year after his election.
Why the two elections were important
In the past 20 years, Virginia and New Jersey have often been seen as harbingers of the important midterm elections. The next midterms will take place in the fall of 2022, when the Republicans want to recapture the US Congress. The Democrats currently hold a slim majority in both chambers of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Now the Democrats have to grapple with the question of why they apparently can no longer carry their supporters away. For a long time the Democrats had not believed that Virginia would be lost to them. The state is very diverse: an urban north meets a rural south, the trend is towards urbanization and a diverse population.
Republican Youngkin elected governor of Virginia
Many medium-sized cities like Richmond, which are economically strong and whose suburbs are growing rapidly, shape the political mood. Just a year ago, in the 2020 presidential election, the Democrats won by a comfortable ten percentage point gap.
Now the scenario has occurred that Democratic strategists feared: Republicans voted above average, while many Democrats did not vote. The analysis portal Five Thirty Eight saw the voter turnout in Virginia “probably with more than three million votes”, a record high. “Tonight is a perfect example that a high turnout doesn’t have to mean a victory for the Democrats.”
The strong commitment of the Republicans could be a first signal that the opposition is highly motivated into the midterms of 2022. “Biden’s voters are fraying at the margins – Trump’s fans stick together,” the US magazine “Politico” summed up the situation.
The Democrats, it is becoming apparent, are increasingly having a problem with mobilization. The so-called “Enthusiasm Gap” became clear in Virginia: According to a survey by Christopher Newport University, 80 percent of Republicans were “very enthusiastic” in the run-up to the elections, but only 65 percent of Democrats.
It was probably similar in New Jersey. Murphy, former US ambassador to Germany, was there in surveys before his challenger Ciattarelli. But on the evening of the election, as reported by local media, the Democrat performed weaker than expected in alleged strongholds.
A culture war is raging in the USA
Much is at stake for President Biden’s party. Republicans only need to take a handful of seats in the midterms to gain control of Congress and block Biden’s agenda. So the Democrats went out of their way to win the Virginia and New Jersey early mood tests.
Biden personally traveled to Virginia to support McAuliffe, and Vice President Kamala Harris and former President Barack Obama also came by to reinforce the situation. “We will win,” Biden had sworn on Tuesday, shortly before his departure from Europe back to the USA.
But the dynamism of politics was particularly noticeable in Virginia. There the Republican Youngkin directed his campaign fully to the subject of education – actually a democratic supreme discipline. The core of the election campaign were debates about the state of public schools, some of which remained closed for months during the pandemic.
Controversy also raged over the way schools treat racism and ethnicity in their curricula. In the USA, a culture war has flared up over the so-called Critical Race Theory for a long time. Behind this is an academic theory that shows how systemic racism pervades US society to this day. Youngkin presented himself as the mouthpiece of conservative parents during the election campaign – a strategy that worked.
McAuliffe, on the other hand, relied on Covid crisis management and the prominence of President Biden. It was noticeably frequent that the Democrats warned of Donald Trump’s political legacy should the Republican competition win. But without Trump on the ballot, the enemy was probably less mobilizing.
Is Trump Coming Back?
America’s Republicans nationwide tried to capitalize on Biden’s weakness in office. Biden enjoys popularity ratings of over 90 percent among democratic supporters. But in terms of the whole country, things are looking bad for the president, his polls have dropped to around 43 percent approval. Only Trump was less popular at this point in office.
The reasons for this are varied: The Covid infections are not under control, the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal cast doubt on Biden’s judgment. Supply chain problems and inflation are making themselves felt in the wallets of millions of people. In addition, the struggle for billions of billions on Capitol Hill is fueling the impression that Biden’s Democrats owe their voters concrete results. On Tuesday, a vote on Biden’s reforms was postponed for the third time in a row.
The Republicans’ euphoria is fueled by ongoing rumors of their idol Trump’s comeback. The Washington Post recently reported that Trump wanted to announce his presidential campaign for 2024 in the summer. His advisors eventually stopped him, warning that moving too early could harm mobilization ahead of the congressional elections.
Trump tours the country regularly for mass rallies and raised around $ 90 million in donations in the first half of 2021. He is still very popular with Republicans: According to a survey by Quinnipiac University, more than 80 percent of supporters are behind the ex-president, and around two-thirds want to see him again in the race for the White House.
More: “Let’s go, Brandon” – the new battle cry of the right shows Biden’s problems