I lived in New Jersey and worked on campaigns the last time a Democratic president faced a first-year referendum on his performance. Now I live in Virginia, where Tuesday night the state sent a clear message to President Joe Biden and Democrats: Stop the bullying.
Living in these two states at such pivotal moments has given me a unique insight into what these elections mean and what they have meant over the past 12 years.
This week, in Virginia, Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin defeated former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) in a state Biden won by 10 points in 2020. Last year, Biden won the state by the biggest margin since President Franklin D. Roosevelt trounced Thomas Dewey by 25 points in 1944.
When all the votes had been counted, Youngkin defeated McAuliffe by two points. That’s a huge swing from Democrat to Republican in just under a year.
In New Jersey, Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli lost to the incumbent, Gov. Phil Murphy (D), by fewer than 60,000 votes. In the days ahead of the election, Murphy was on track for an easy win. The fact that the race ended up being so close was its own win for Republicans in the state.
Another big story out of New Jersey that shows just what a good election this was for Republicans is the fact that a commercial truck driver who reportedly spent just $153 on his campaign ousted state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford), who has held his leadership position since 2010 and has served in the senate since 2002. That Sweeney was vulnerable at all in such a Deep Blue state that has such powerful entrenched politics is a sign that Republicans are on to something.
Going back to 2009, when Republican Chris Christie won in New Jersey and Republican Bob McDonnell won in Virginia, we can see those races were pretty equally seen as referendums on the states themselves and the president in power. In 2009, President Barack Obama was in office, and people across the country opposed his stimulus and healthcare plans by the time the Virginia and New Jersey elections occurred. Virginia had two Democratic governors prior to McDonnell’s election, and New Jersey had incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine (enough said). In 2009, Chris Christie was seen as a law-and-order guy to Corzine’s Soprano State stylings.
Flash forward to 2017, when the media tried to make the state gubernatorial races a referendum on President Donald Trump. As I argued at the time, Blue States voting for Democrats was hardly a referendum on Trump. Trump lost Virginia and New Jersey in 2016, so it wasn’t like he won those states and then his party lost them the next year – which is what happened to Obama in 2009 and now Biden in 2021.
In 2021, these elections are indeed a referendum on Biden and the Democratic agenda, but also largely a reflection of those states what Democrats have done to them. The economy and education were listed as some of the top issues in the state, and, in Virginia, Youngkin beat McAuliffe on both of them. These issues were also important in New Jersey, but Ciattarelli, I’m told by people who still live in the state, didn’t put up much of a fight in the Garden State. Him being at all close in the race is definitely a sign that many people were fed up with Murphy and the way he handled the pandemic and the economy in New Jersey. Taxes in the Garden State are a perennial issue, with Republican candidates constantly promising to lower taxes even as the state remains one of the highest taxed in the nation.
The big, overarching issue in each state, however, really came down to the bullying tactics of the Left. Whether the issue was COVID-19 or education or anything else, people are getting sick of how the Left treats them. You can see this tactic in the responses to the election losses. As The Daily Wire pointed out, numerous Democratic commentators resorted to lies and insults to explain away the loss, most of them focusing on allegedly rampant “white supremacy.”
People are fed up with being called racists for opposing the Left’s agenda, especially when the racism claims are just campaign tactics at this point. Virginians elected the first black female candidate statewide in Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears, as well as the first Latino attorney general with Jason Miyares, yet still Democrats claimed racism reigned supreme in the election.
They just refuse to accept that America isn’t a racist country, even that’s clear to everyone outside their elitist bubble.
These pundits also falsely claimed that critical race theory either doesn’t exist or that it does exist but is not being taught in schools, even though mountains of evidence exist to the contrary.
Democrats are shooting themselves in the foot. They shut down schools in their cities and states for 18 months even though children are less likely to contract COVID-19 than vaccinated young adults. By forcing students to attend schools remotely, parents were given a glimpse into what they were learning – and they were not pleased. So parents went to school board meetings to complain – not about math or science or most subjects – but about how issues of race were being handled in the schools. These parents didn’t want the history of slavery not to be taught to their children, they just didn’t want their children to be segregated into groups of alleged victims and oppressors. It wasn’t just white parents speaking out either, many parents of color disagreed with teaching their children that they are constant victims.
As the dust settles, the Left seems to be coalescing around white women as the target to blame for their election losses. Yes, suburban white women helped Biden win in 2020, but they turned back to the GOP because of the way the Left is treating their children. As a side note, Youngkin got a higher share of votes from black women than Trump received in the state in 2020.
Democrats seem intent on blaming racism for all their failures. The tactic didn’t work in 2021 and if they keep it up, they’re looking for a repeat of the 2010 congressional trouncing they received. Only this time, because the House and Senate are so close already, they’ll likely lose both houses.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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