Analysis: Why Republicans Are Ready for Profit in 2022, No matter Who Wins in Virginia on Tuesday

Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin led a strong race in a country that is in the Democrat trend, which, if translated into victory, would match Virginia’s long-standing pattern of rewarding the party that lost the White House the year before. Youngkin’s victory would come as no surprise, although polls generally show a close match with a Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe.
Republicans at the national level are ready to win next year’s midterm elections, reflecting a long-standing pattern of rewarding the party that lost the White House two years earlier. As long as Americans are restless about the pandemic, the economy and The leadership of President Joe BidenDemocrats can lose control of Congress, whether McAuliffe manages to keep the Virginia Governor’s mansion in the hands of his party.

“If McAuliffe wins for one or loses for one, will the message be any different?” asked Larry Sabato, who runs the University of Virginia Policy Center. “No – it will be a difficult interim.”

The outlook for the 2021 and 2022 elections along established trends says little in particular about Youngkin, McAuliffe, Virginia, the Congressional Democrats, or Biden. They simply represent the new members of the cast in a well-known political game.

All eyes fixed on the new president

The same tidal forces are forming odd and intermediate competitions after the White House race. As the top government official, the new president is quickly at the center of prevailing public discontent.

Biden’s recent struggles have dragged his assessment of approval underwater, both in the state and in Virginia. Four years ago, then-President Donald Trump was in even worse political shape because of his unusual behavior, racial provocations, and attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Similar dynamics have brought victories for the non-White House party to 10 of the last 11 gubernatorial elections in Virginia. In nine of the last 11 intermediate contests, they gained a seat in the U.S. home for a party that did not occupy the White House.

During this period, the sample did not offer clear guidance on the possibility of re-electing the presidents involved. Four of them (Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama) won a second term; three (Jimmy Carter, George HW Bush and Trump) are not.

Occasionally, Virginia’s results and intermediate results diverged. That gives congressional Democrats reason to hope for a change in political winds next year, even if Youngkin wins Tuesday.

In 1998, during Clinton’s presidency, Democrats got seats in the House of Representatives despite anger over his affair with Monica Lewinsky. In 2002, Republicans in the House did the same with the younger Bush in the White House. Both results followed the gubernatorial victories of the other party in Virginia.

McAuliffe is well acquainted with one of the eleven exceptions in Virginia. It was his 2013 victory for governor following Obama’s 2012 re-election.

This did not herald a strong Democratic midterm term in 2014. Republicans then took full control of Congress, allowing them to hamper Obama’s legislative agenda until the end of his term.

Partisan changes

McAuliffe’s victory in 2013 reflected, to some extent, Virginia’s long-term trend toward his party, as growing ranks of moderate suburban voters gained power at the expense of rural conservatives. After losing the country in 10 consecutive presidential elections that began in 1968, Democrats ran it in the last four.

Biden beat Trump there by 10 points last year. So it was last week Fox News Poll – which shows Youngkin an 8-point advantage among likely voters – all the more surprising because of a hint of a major partisan shift.
Republican voters have loosened Youngkin slightly as he walks the ropes around Trump

However, fluctuating the electoral margin by 18 points from the presidential to the gubernatorial race would be almost unprecedented. After Obama won Virginia by 6 points in 2008, Republican Bob McDonnell won 17 years as governor a year later. After Reagan defeated Virginia by 25 points in 1984, Democrat Gerald Baliles won the governorship by 10 the following year.

Poll averages show the McAuliffe-Youngkin race neck and neck. When Biden fights politically – new NBC News poll measures his approval at only 42% nationally – Democratic strategists from Virginia fear that support among their supporters could tip the line against them.

You don’t have to have a lot of electoral clarity to know that national democratic strategists, if the president stays at 42%, will have a good reason to fear the same things next November. McAuliffe’s fate on Tuesday won’t change that.

“In terms of political analysis, there really isn’t much difference between a 50-49 win and a 49-50 defeat,” Sean Trende, senior electoral analyst for RealClearPolitics, he tweeted last week. “It’s important for strength, not really for gaining a sense of the state of things.”


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