What a difference a year makes.
Exactly a year ago today, Joe Biden crushed President Donald Trump in Virginia. Biden won with 54.11% of the vote in 2020, while Trump came in with just 44%. That 10.11% winning margin was the largest for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1944, when Franklin D. Roosevelt beat Thomas Dewey in the state 62.4% to 37.4%.
But Biden’s agenda quickly went right in the dumper, with members of his own party thwarting his massive spending plans. What’s more, nearly everything else has also gotten worse since Biden took office: gas prices and inflation have soared, crime is out of control, and the border crisis has exploded.
All that — plus some local issues like school boards — brought angry voters to the polls on Tuesday. More than 3.2 million Virginians voted, a 27% increase from 2017, the last election for governor. In that race, Democrat Ralph Northam defeated Republican Ed Gillespie 53.9% to 45%.
But in 2017, just 2,584,906 people voted in the state. This year, with 99% of the vote counted, 3,277,931 state residents cast ballots, according to FiveThirtyEight.
That surge in turnout gave Republican Glenn Youngkin the win. He received 1,675,171 votes — a nearly 500,000-vote increase from Gillespie, who got 1,175,731 votes. On Tuesday, Democrat Terry McAuliffe pulled in 193,585 more votes than Gov. Ralph Northam — 1,602,760 versus 1,409,175. But it still wasn’t enough.
Exit polls showed independents went heavily for Youngkin.
“Youngkin also carried male voters in this year’s election by a roughly 12-point margin, White women without college degrees by about 50 points and White evangelicals by about 76 points — all broader margins than then-President Donald Trump posted over Joe Biden among those demographics in the 2020 election and than Republican Ed Gillespie posted over his gubernatorial rival in 2017,” CNN reported. “The early exit polling also suggests a slim advantage for Youngkin in the suburbs, an area that shifted toward Democrats during Trump’s presidency.”
While some pundits say Youngkin’s win shows the power of Trump, Youngkin kept his distance from the former president, deciding not to join a rally Trump held by telephone the day before the election.
CNN reported: “Virginia voters in this year’s election hold negative views of both President Biden and Trump. Biden, who won comfortably in Virginia last year, now faces approval ratings significantly underwater in the state, with roughly 45% approving and the rest disapproving — likely a consequence both of his declining ratings since taking office, and the composition of the electorate that turned out to vote this year.”
“Only about one-fifth of voters say they view their votes as a way to express support for Biden, with nearly 3 in 10 saying it’s a way to express opposition and the remaining half of the electorate saying Biden wasn’t a factor. Trump isn’t any more popular in the state: Only about 4 in 10 view him favorably,” the liberal news outlet reported, citing exit polls.
While the economy was the top issue, local education was a close second. “About one-third of Virginia voters called the economy the most important issue facing the state, placing it ahead of other topics that dominated headlines in the closing days of the race. Just under one-quarter said education is most important, about 15% chose taxes, about 14% chose the coronavirus pandemic and just about one-tenth chose abortion,” CNN reported.
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