Democratic enthusiasm in Virginia is tested in 2021 statewide election
RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Democrats have controlled the political landscape in Virginia for the past two years, following a trend seen statewide for nearly a decade.
Celebration obtained majorities in both chambers General Assembly in 2019 and last lost a statewide election in 2009. Every Democratic presidential candidate won Virginia since 2008 and Democrats also constitute the majority of Commonwealth Congress delegation.
Changing demographics and a more nationalized approach to state politics have contributed to this shift, political analysts say. But this year’s statewide election could be a real test of Virginia’s recent status as a Blue State.
âI’ve been worried since November 2016, when Hillary Clinton didn’t win. I mean, I wake up worried every day even though I’m sleeping a lot better now that Joe Biden is president,â said Susan Swecker, party president. Democrat of Virginia, laughing when 8News asked her if she was worried about the party’s ability to attract her coalition of voters for the off-year election.
Exciting the party base for the election could be a challenge for Virginia Democrats, especially without former President Donald Trump on the ballot or on Twitter. Another potential problem could be President Biden’s presence in the White House.
Before Terry McAuliffe’s victory in 2013, the political party that held the White House had lost the race for governor of Virginia for 36 years. Biden won Virginia by 10% last November, but his the approval rate has gone down in the wake of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, which could cost the Democrats in Virginia dearly.
Recent statewide polls show Republican Glenn Youngkin, a political newcomer, at hand of McAuliffe, a former Democratic governor of Virginia who is running for a second term, in the race for governor. Even Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, the sole statewide Democratic ticket holder, could risk losing to his Republican challenger Jason Miyares, survey results suggest.
âI know this sounds clichÃ©; I really don’t pay much attention to the polls because we’ve seen how wrong they are, âSwecker continued. “All I know is what I see here with enthusiasm.”
The number of votes drops predictably without a national race on the ticket. In the last governor’s race, 2.6 million voters voted. The year before, for the 2016 presidential election, nearly four million votes were cast in Virginia.
In November, nearly 4.5 million Virginia voters voted for the 2020 presidential election. While there is no expectation of reaching that total, voter turnout will be vital for both sides.
âI understand that we are in an election out of year. It’s always been a bit of a challenge, but we’ve proven it before, and look, here’s the other thing, I want to give voters credit, âSwecker said. âThe voters of Virginia are very smart. They are very wise and they are very attentive.
Hoping to rally their base this electoral cycle, Democratic candidates have turned their attention to issues such as abortion rights and the coronavirus pandemic. Until the votes arrive and the results are certified, it remains unclear whether these tactics will get voters to the polls.
Republican candidates have targeted policy changes enacted during the Democratic rule over the state legislature, such as several gun control measures, as an example of government excess in the midst of a change of power. The GOP is counting on fading enthusiasm for the Democratic regime, 8News political analyst Rich Meagher said, but still needs to focus on agenda items that will galvanize independents and its own base.
âSo that could be an argument. We had Democratic control in Virginia, there are Democrats in the national government and those two factors might cause some Virginians to say, “OK, enough of these guys, now let’s see what the other team has to say.” “Meagher, a political science professor at Randolph-Macon College, said in an interview.
“But what are the Republicans proposing for the pasty environment on the left?” They worry about voter fraud, are a strong advocate for gun rights, and are proposing restrictive abortion laws.
Meagher noted that many voters returned some form of gun restrictions and believe that abortions should be allowed. He added that while Trump has not taken center stage since leaving office, despite his approval of Youngkin, his presence in state politics is still being felt and could have an impact on Democratic voters in Virginia.
âRepublicans are always very informed and influenced by Trump and Trump is kind of hiding in the background,â Meagher said. âHe’s not on Twitter every day but he’s still there, doing interviews and having events and people invoke him and talk about him. So I still think there will be some of that Democratic participation.
With early voting already underway, Virginia voters can vote for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general for the Nov. 2 election. The 100 seats in the House of Delegates, where Democrats currently hold a 55-45 majority, and some local races will also be on the ballots.