Image Credit: Edwin J. Torres
The Democratic Party faced its first test this week after their victory in last year’s presidential election, which saw Joe Biden and Kamala Harris defeat Donald Trump in what heralded a new era for America. Yet, two gubernatorial races which looked set to go to the Democrats, turned out to be a disaster for Biden and his agenda.
Terry McAuliffe, a former Virginia Governor, spectacularly lost his seat in what was seen to be a ballot on Biden’s leadership. Despite Biden winning the state in 2020 by just over ten percentage points, McAuliffe didn’t face the same outcome and conceded on Wednesday morning after it was clear his opponent Glenn Youngkin, an American businessman, had won the popular vote.
Addressing supporters early Wednesday morning, Youngkin stated “together, we will change the trajectory of this commonwealth.” Whilst Youngkin’s victory may seem like a shock to many, it provides a strong base for Republicans going into the 2022 midterms, particularly as Youngkin was able to win over Trump supporters as well as suburban voters who had voted for Biden in 2020.
Elsewhere, incumbent New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (Dem.) also fought for his political life in a race that was too close to call for the majority of the night. Whilst no Democratic governor has been re-elected in the state of New Jersey since 1971, Murphy was thought to have a slightly easier route to victory than his Democratic predecessors. However, his opponent Jack Ciattarelli started the election night ahead in the count. Whilst this turned around for Murphy, the election was far too close to put Democrats at ease.
The Democrats have had a part to play in their own downfall this election cycle. Disagreements surrounding Biden’s spending plan on Capitol Hill as well as rising inflation and discontent with America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan have all affected Biden and the Democrats in the polls culminating with a humiliating loss in Virginia.
The Democrats have a lot of lessons to learn going into 2022, with the reality that what has been dubbed the ‘woke agenda’ doesn’t seem to be working. In the wake of devastating results for Democrats, there have been widespread calls across the party to pass both of Biden’s bills which are currently stalled within Congress. Furthermore, their anti-Trump rhetoric does not seem to be working as it used to, with many voters in Virginia voting for Youngkin despite the fact that Trump endorsed him.
Whilst the party in power almost always loses control of Congress after they have been elected, with an increasingly divided electorate and a divided Democratic Party the recent elections, especially in Virginia, will do little to help the issues that Biden and his party are already facing.