Benjamin Swistun ’22
On November 2, 2021, state elections took place in Virginia and New Jersey. The most important race of the night was the Virginia gubernatorial election where Republican Glenn Youngkin was elected by a margin of 2%. His competitor, Terry McAuliffe, took the role of the incumbent Democrat in favour of previous Governor Ralph Northam. This election left many strategists split on what the results can show about future trends.
The Republican strategist in charge of Youngkin’s campaign, Jeff Roe, said “I think that there’s a kind of moment here in time where the Democrats have been caught in an overreach.” Roe elaborates further on what he sees as political “overreach” by listing all his personal grievances with the Democratic platform, focusing on more progressive issues.
This opinion has common backing on both sides of the aisle as more Democrats somewhat agree with Roe. One of these is Clinton-era Democrat strategist, James Carville, who said “What went wrong is stupid wokeness,” when discussing the election. Both Roe and Carville thought the Democrats were picking policies that the average voter had trouble connecting to, though there is no solid data to back up this assertion.
Not everyone in the Democratic party agrees with Carville, however. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York) commented on the election by saying “Before the Virginia elections, it was very clear that our help and our participation was not wanted or asked for.”
Her argument for why the Democrats lost the election was due to a “big youth-turnout collapse”, losing a much-needed base that is important for the Democrats to win.
This claim has backing as, according to exit polls, only 10% of voters were between the ages of 18 and 29, along with 22% being between the ages of 30 and 45. This drop in youth turnout, partnered with tumbling approval ratings for President Biden, stacked the odds against the Democrats in these elections. The future for the Democratic party is anyone’s guess as there is a clear rift developing between moderates and progressives. This divide is being compared to the Great Schism that split the Catholic Church by some Republicans. Nobody knows what will happen within the Democratic party, but Republicans are optimistic about the future. Only time will tell.
Photo Credit: Forbes