By Jonathon Van Maren
In case you missed the media meltdown, Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe (a former governor) for the governorship of Virginia last night. The reaction across the board on the cable news shows was to condemn the GOP as racist for speaking to parental concerns about Critical Race Theory and other educational issues, simultaneously denying that CRT exists while also defending it as a necessary corrective for a deeply racist nation. As the Babylon Bee aptly put it: “Terry McAuliffe Baffled That Telling Parents The State Owns Their Children Wasn’t A Winning Strategy.”
Over at The American Conservative, the normally gloomy Rod Dreher was euphoric: “It is delicious to watch and read all the media leftists squawking and screaming about RACISM having won. They all live in such airtight bubbles that they can’t see how alienating their radicalism is to normal Americans. It turns out a lot of voters don’t appreciate their kids being propagandized with progressive race hatred and gender insanity. Batya Ungar-Sargon is right: this is class warfare, though it manifests as culture war.”
The Democrats lost more than just the Virginia governorship. Republican Winsome Sears defeated Hala Ayala for lieutenant governor (and you’ll hear little from the media about the success of a Republican black woman) and Jason Miyares beat Democrat Mark Herring for attorney general. The gubernatorial race in New Jersey, a Democrat stronghold, still has Republican Jack Ciattarelli running neck-in-neck with Governor Phil Murphy. Political analysts and insiders are already noting that these circumstances could predict a GOP sweep in 2022, with the Republicans retaking the House and the Senate. Biden’s already floundering agenda could be dead in the water in a year.
These results are particularly encouraging for social conservatives. Parental rights on a range of issues were front and centre throughout the campaign, and GOP strategists are already noting that backing parents and listening to their concerns is a political winner. Progressives have been colonizing public education almost unopposed for decades, and as their agenda becomes increasingly radical on issues ranging from race to gender, grassroots folks are finally pushing back. If the Republican Party follows their lead, perhaps we’ll finally get some good news on the education front for a change (although I’ll admit that I’m in the camp that believes public education to be unsalvageable.)
Then there’s the fact that the Democrats pounded the GOP on abortion throughout the election cycle, hoping to turn progressive fears about Texas’ new abortion law into votes. It didn’t work—and Fox News exit polling indicated that 5% of Virginia voters cited abortion as their top issue, with Youngkin taking these voters by a margin of 12%. This wasn’t just a side issue for Dems, either—McAuliffe spent a fortune on TV ads, mentioned it in speeches and debates, and even campaigned at an abortion clinic. When the Texas Heartbeat Act passed, the media—and McAuliffe himself—stated that the backlash could kill GOP hopes. That didn’t happen.
A final point. After the 2020 election, I wrote a column for The American Conservative titled “The Realignment is Real,” on the growing possibility of the GOP positioning itself as a socially conservative worker’s part, winning the support of Hispanic and black voters who are economically liberal but socially conservative who find themselves unhappy with the Democrats as they pivot hard left and double-down on abortion and the LGBT agenda. Well, exit polls showed that Youngkin won Hispanic voters in Virginia by 9 points, 54% to 45%. As Charlie Camosy put it: “A year ago, who would have predicted a GOP sweep in Virginia, a Republican candidate polling late within six points in a NJ governor’s race, and a moderate ex-cop being swept into the NYC mayor’s office by voters of color?”
It is true that Joe Biden has been a disaster. It is also true that we are seeing parents push back, pro-life laws being passed by the score, and both the Equality Act and court-packing thus far unaccomplished. Should the GOP take back the House and the Senate, we will be out of the woods on the most fundamentally transformative aspects of Biden’s agenda. If last night was any indication, we have reasons for optimism.