The November 2021 election of Republican Glenn Youngkin as governor of Virginia was celebrated as a turning point for the American right. It was thought that Youngkin may sway moderates to the right side. Some even suggested he run for president. After two years, however, he appears to be losing steam.
Youngkin’s Surprise 2021 Win
Right up until the November 2, 2021, gubernatorial election, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe confidently anticipated to win since right up to election day, that’s what all the polls were showing. But the surveys were completely off base. After all the ballots were received, Youngkin had a lead of about 64,000.
This is fantastic news for conservatives. Youngkin ran on an anti-woke platform, promising to eliminate the controversial teaching of Critical Race Theory in Virginia’s schools and favoring a smaller government and an end to mask mandates as central planks of his campaign. Many mainstream Democrats who were sick of “woke” schools and the economy gave him his support. Many conservatives reasonably assumed that Youngkin, or at least his political philosophy, would lead the Republican Party to the presidency.
Have the Wheels Come Off?
Voters in Virginia’s statewide election took place on November 7. Youngkin and his followers took a major hit as a result of the outcome. Democrats in Virginia have organized and won back control of the state legislature. They maintained a razor-thin majority in the state Senate and added seats in the House of Delegates.
That’s a major setback to Youngkin’s legislative plans; he’ll struggle to get bills through when both chambers of the legislature oppose him. In particular, Mamie Locke, the chair of the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus, vowed that “there will be absolutely no abortion ban legislation sent to Glenn Youngkin’s desk for the duration of his term in office, period.”
So what went wrong?
It’s likely that the historic overthrow of Roe v. Wade last June was a factor in the Democratic victory in Virginia. While Youngkin ran on numerous measures that ultimately proved to be popular with both moderates and conservatives, Roe v. Wade was not as much of an issue during his campaign. Now It Is.
Maybe people who appreciated Youngkin’s ideas about schools and government intrusion found his promises to limit abortion to 15 weeks too difficult to accept. Right-to-life laws are unpopular with voters, since polls show that 85% of Americans think abortion should be permissible in some instances. While the topic may be crucial to many Conservatives, it is unlikely to swing any votes. Youngkin must readjust to this new reality.