(LifeSiteNews) — When Terry McAuliffe, who served as Virginia’s governor from 2014 to 2018, announced on December 9, 2020, that he was launching a comeback campaign to retake his old job in 2021, he did so to great fanfare from Democrats and little expectation from most anyone else that he’d face steep competition on his next rise to the top.
When Glenn Youngkin, a much lesser-known Republican businessman, made the very same announcement the following month, almost nobody noticed at all.
Yet just under one year later, a different scenario is playing out in the Old Dominion: Terry McAuliffe is riding off into the sunset of an early retirement, and Glenn Youngkin is on his way to the Executive Mansion in Richmond.
Indeed, this remarkable turn of events in the purple-verging-on-blue Virginia may have been an unexpected one, but it’s certainly not unfamiliar: Against all odds, another successful outsider who built his career in the private sector has managed to beat a liberal fixture of the political establishment at his very own game.
But how and why, exactly, did Governor-Elect Glenn Youngkin, along with Lieutenant Governor-Elect Winsome Sears and Attorney General-Elect Jason Miyares, manage to flip Virginia red after a twelve-year drought for Republicans at the statewide level?
President Trump, who endorsed Youngkin after his triumph at the GOP convention earlier this year, offered his own assessment in a statement shared by a spokeswoman on Twitter last Tuesday evening:
I would like to thank my BASE for coming out in force and voting for Glenn Youngkin. Without you, he would not have been close to winning. The MAGA movement is bigger and stronger than ever before. Glenn will be a great governor. Thank you to the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia and most particularly, to our incredible MAGA voters!
Unsurprisingly, the pundit class disagreed, and was quick to shoot down the former president’s interpretation of events, claiming rather that Youngkin bested McAuliffe in spite of Trump, who stayed out of Virginia entirely during the general election.
But as is almost always the case in any such situation where two opposing sides wish to stake their claim on a “black” or “white” reality, the truth behind Youngkin’s win and the mini-red wave of 2021 actually lies somewhere in the “grey”-ish middle.
It would be unfair to not state the obvious about how Glenn Youngkin won the governorship, which really boils down to the fact that his team ran a masterful, laser-focused, issues-oriented campaign that stayed true to the driving principles the 21st century conservative movement while straying away from the sort of rhetoric and discourse that could easily turn off the voters in the middle without whom victory would’ve been unattainable.
Additionally, Youngkin’s uncanny ability to capitalize on hot-button issues dismissed by his tone-deaf opponent as “right wing conspiracies” in real time over the course of the race proved effective enough to translate into actual, tangible votes in November. (One example is McAuliffe’s astounding assertion that “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach” and Youngkin’s subsequent response may well have marked the turning point in the campaign).
This came as a surprise to Virginia Democrats, who clearly felt secure enough in their own perceived hegemony over the Old Dominion’s political scene that simply brushing off these matters — be they public opposition to unconstitutional vaccine mandates or parental outrage over adolescent indoctrination by the commonwealth’s school systems — seemed a surefire strategy in what’s now retrospectively and rightfully recognized as a lackadaisical effort to hang onto power.
Conversely, McAuliffe’s commitment to doubling down on the most fanatical tenets of contemporary “progressivism” and his resulting failure to differentiate himself from the loudest, most shamelessly socialist voices reverberating through the echelons of the Democratic Party (not to mention his complete inability to distance himself from the deeply unpopular current administration) turned many of the independent and moderate voters who delivered Virginia to Joe Biden in 2020 (and have since turned on him) back to the Republicans.
With this in mind, it’s also worth noting that the new Governor-Elect of Virginia sought no outside help during the election.
While McAuliffe was eager to federalize Virginia’s gubernatorial race, and campaigned publicly alongside supposed political superstars like Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Barack Obama, Georgia’s Stacey Abrams (like Terry himself, another bona fide loser), and even AFT honcho Randi Weingarten (confirming his allegiance to teachers’ unions first and foremost), Youngkin declined, instead opting for a more intimate approach that made everyday Virginians, from concerned parents to public school students and even law enforcement officials, the stars of his campaign instead.
It was Tip O’Neill, the Speaker of the U.S. House from 1977 to 1987 and Ronald Reagan’s greatest political foil, who popularized the phrase “all politics is local.” And in a political world where everything’s changing all the time, Glenn Youngkin still managed to prove the relevance of that sentiment in spades nearly 40 years later.
But, of course, none of this is quite enough for the peanut gallery, because even at a time when Donald Trump, still living rent-free in the collective mind of the American media, has been out of office for nearly eleven months and banned from mainstream social media platforms for even longer, Glenn Youngkin’s rise to power must, if we’re to believe the vast majority of talking heads, have something to do with the 45th president, even if they want us to believe that something is really nothing at all.
Nonetheless, the actual role that Trump and the MAGA movement played in Virginia’s sudden pivot to the right remains a persisting question of the political moment, likely to be debated for weeks and months (if not longer), and whatever that eventual answer may reveal itself to be, it will almost certainly factor into how Republicans play their hand in next year’s midterm elections and perhaps even beyond.
In order to understand how Trump resonates in Virginia in the first place, though, one would be wise to consult the results from both of his own electoral performances there.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton defeated Trump by six points in Virginia, making it the third consecutive election in which the Old Dominion backed a Democrat for president. Joe Biden managed to follow it up with a victory of his own in 2020, nearly doubling Clinton’s margin over Trump with respect to the percentage of all votes cast.
By mere observation and some inductive reasoning, one can learn two important, face-value lessons from these outcomes when compared to Youngkin’s victory: (1) That Virginia falls into the column of states where Donald Trump became less popular over the course of his four years as president (there was roughly an equal number of states in which the opposite proved true); and (2) that Trump’s specific brand of politics, if not his actual policies, does not quite sync up with the personal style of the bulk of the Virginia electorate, which, since the turn of the century, has become (a) more college-educated, (b) more racially diverse, and (c) more left-leaning, in large part due to sharp population increases in Northern Virginia, especially in DC suburbs where a growing number of bureaucrats, lobbyists, and members of the political class have taken up residence.
These are the voting blocs that helped drive Virginia’s steady shift left throughout the 2010s. A healthy number of suburbanites joined their ranks during the Trump years, as well, making it virtually impossible for Republicans to prevail in what was once one of the most reliably red states in the nation.
Unlike Trump, though, Youngkin managed to chip away at Democrats’ lead with many of these groups, improving on the former President’s performance in all 95 of Virginia’s counties (most strikingly in those teeming with suburban voters, whom Youngkin actually managed to win in a complete reversal from the Trump era) and even flipping 12 Biden counties in the process.
For instance, in the ever-relevant Loudoun County, a Democratic stronghold that’s made national headlines over the last year due to a continued uprising of parents expressing vocal opposition to the infusion of social leftism in classrooms at regular school board meetings (a focal point of the Republican’s campaign), Youngkin came within 11 points of Terry McAuliffe, whereas, last year, Joe Biden soundly defeated President Trump there by 25. Likewise, he also prevailed in counties like Northampton and Hopewell, both of which saw double-digit Biden victories just a year ago.
And even so, this newfound suburban appeal didn’t lose Youngkin any support among Trump’s base: He still managed to successfully hold onto the MAGA vote, as is evidenced by his unprecedented dominance throughout rural Virginia, which dwarfed even Trump’s own over Biden last year, racking up vote totals in those counties that frequently exceeded 80%.
More so, by honing in on bread-and-butter, kitchen table issues that are specific to the plight(s) of Virginians singularly rather than merely attempting to paint his opponent as a disciple of a bigger, badder political bogeyman (which seemed McAuliffe’s only plan of action), Youngkin won big with demographic groups that, just a year ago, seemed a lost cause for the Republican Party.
As mentioned prior, Youngkin won 53% of suburban voters, almost identical to the margin that Joe Biden won them by in 2020. He won Independents (54-45%), who alone can and often do decide competitive elections. He even scored a decisive victory with Hispanics and Latinos, who, in a stunning move, backed a Republican candidate by a double-digit margin (55-44%).
For such inroads with so many groups to be made by one candidate within a year’s time is a significant feat, make no mistake; but they may say more about Glenn Youngkin’s understanding of his soon-to-be constituents and his own self-awareness than they do about the Virginia electorate, itself.
The dangerous ideas of Critical Race Theory (CRT) are being forced on students in public schools around the country.
This is wrong and parents have had enough! It's time to join them in saying "STOP!" to this harmful and racist propaganda.
Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition which says "No to CRT" in public schools, and "Yes to parents' right" to strongly protest CRT.
But, what is CRT anyway and why is it so dangerous?
Critical Race Theory is a hateful system of indoctrination which teaches that one race is either superior or inferior to another race, and that the United States is inherently racist.
CRT is dangerous and hateful precisely because it teaches children who are not white to despise and envy white children simply because of their skin color. And, as a result, it also teaches white children to despise themselves simply because of the color of their skin.
CRT also erroneously teaches that American society is inherently racist, and that different, detrimental policies (like reparations for slavery and race-based pay scales) should be imposed on the population to redistribute wealth from whites to non-whites.
This type of racist/marxist propaganda should have NO place in public, taxpayer-funded schools!
And, thankfully, American parents of EVERY COLOR are raising their voices and ballots against it!
Indeed, parents understand the destructive ramifications of CRT and, despite outrageous threats from Biden's Justice Department to prosecute them, they have been strongly protesting CRT at school board meetings across the country!
And now, in the first test of its kind, a candidate who was campaigning hard against CRT just won the governorship of Virginia in a huge upset victory.
That's great news, but we now need to contact every state legislature about this crucial educational issue.
And, we need to DEMAND that they BAN Critical Race Theory from every public school in their states - both primary and high schools, and colleges!
Whereas advocates of CRT seem more intent on vengence than on teaching children of every race to respect everybody, regardless of skin color, American parents of every race understand that it is not the color of one's skin that matters, but the content of one's character (to paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr.).
Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition asking all state legislatures to BAN Crititical Race Theory from public schools in their respective states.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
'States are fighting the Left over the morally bankrupt critical race theory' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/states-are-fighting-the-left-over-the-morally-bankrupt-critical-race-theory/
'Parents who oppose Critical Race Theory in schools could be prosecuted by FBI' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/attorney-general-tasks-fbi-to-move-against-parents-protesting-leftist-agenda-in-schools/
Ohio parents testify: Yes, critical race theory is in our schools, and we say NO! - https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/ohio-parents-testify-yes-critical-race-theory-is-in-our-schools-and-we-say-no
An excellent Heritage Foundation document on CRT: Critical Race Theory Would Not Solve Racial Inequality: It Would Deepen It
**Photo Credit: EJ Nickerson / Shutterstock.com
The Youngkin campaign’s decision to embrace Trumpism without, say, flying Donald Trump, himself, into Virginia for a series of MAGA rallies was a tactical but admittedly risky one. At stake in doing so: (1) Turning off too many moderate middle voters, who really hold the power in Virginia elections, by taking a MAGA approach to the issues, and (2) angering Trump himself, because, once unleashed, the former president’s wrath has proven something that’s all but impossible for a fellow Republican (or RINO) to bounce back from.
But the reality, which may be uncomfortable for some, is that many of Donald Trump’s policy positions remain popular, even in parts of the country where Donald Trump, himself, is not.
Donald Trump is and will continue to be a polarizing figure in politics, in no place more so than a state that rejected him by a double-digit margin when his own name was on the ballot. But what’s less controversial than Donald Trump is the idea that parents should remain in charge of their children’s education. What’s less controversial than Donald Trump is a strong, shared opposition to defunding police departments for the sole purpose of scoring points with the woke crowd. And what’s less controversial than Donald Trump is the rejection of tyrannical medical mandates that disregard individuals’ personal preferences to fill politically-motivated vaccination quotas.
So while fly-by-night, self-proclaimed “experts” may like to cite Youngkin’s win as evidence that Trumpism is dead and that the Republican Party (not to mention the country) has moved on from MAGA, Virginia’s results actually tell a much more complex story — one that suggests Republicans’ strategy to recapture Congress, as well as more governorships, in 2022 cannot be an oversimplified, one-size-fits-all proposition.
Make no mistake: The Republican Party is well positioned to win and to win big in 2022 — perhaps even bigger than they did in 1994 or 2010 — at both at the federal level and in individual states. And if Virginia (and even New Jersey) can tell us anything, it’s that the GOP can and should make a play for offices in traditionally blue territories. That is, after all, the only way Republicans can stage a comeback that sustains itself well beyond just the 2022 cycle, or even 2024 for that matter.
Glenn Youngkin showed them exactly how to make that happen, and it’s certainly not by abandoning Trumpism, nor is it necessarily by making Trump, himself, the focal point of an election in a state or district where he just isn’t that popular to begin with.
The GOP really can have its cake and eat it, too. It just needs to take an active approach to understanding how best to slice it up. And if it does so effectively, America will be a better, freer place because of it.