Signature Sponsor
A Deserved Democratic Defeat and Republican Victory



November 3, 2021 - It is always tempting to draw national conclusions from local elections, even more so in a gubernatorial election held in the White House’s backyard the year after a presidential election.

All the more reason to start an analysis of Tuesday’s Virginia governor's race with the man most responsible for the outcome: Glenn Youngkin.

Youngkin is a political newcomer who has proven to be a disciplined, effective, and energetic campaigner. After winning the Republican primary by making election integrity a top issue, Youngkin steadily worked under the radar to unite a fractured Virginia Republican Party that had not won a statewide election since 2009.

At times, it may have seemed Youngkin was running an invisible campaign with little presence on television outside of glossy personal biography ads that portrayed him as a congenial, fleece vest-wearing suburban family man. But as Election Day approached, Youngkin deftly tapped into the very real and growing frustrations of mothers and fathers with school-aged children in suburban counties.

Between mask mandates, distance learning, and divisive social justice school curricula, Virginia parents were fed up with educrats telling them how to raise their children. When Youngkin’s opponent, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, said in a debate, “I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” Youngkin knew he had a winning issue, responding, “You believe school systems should tell children what to do. I believe parents should be in charge of their kids’ education.” This message was then hammered home with self-funded television ads. As a result, Youngkin was leading among parents by 15 points heading into Tuesday.

McAuliffe's strategy was different. He made every effort to make the race about former President Donald Trump, who lost Virginia by 10 points a year ago, but voters just weren’t buying it. Asking voters to confuse Youngkin with Trump was always a stretch, and it didn't work.

For his part, Youngkin played the Trump issue as safely as possible, accepting the former president's endorsement but not asking him to campaign in the state. While Youngkin did prioritize election integrity, a key issue for Trump voters in the primary, he also readily acknowledged “that President Biden is our president.”

The end result was an electorate ready to move beyond the suffocating polarization of the Trump era and respond primarily instead to the lamentable and enraging failures of the Democrats actually in power now, and send the arrogant education bureaucracy a message about the direction of schools.

Maybe that is the national implication of the Virginia governor's race: If Republicans can find political outsiders with the instincts to identify widely popular grassroots issues that the ideologically hidebound Left ignores, and the discipline to stay on message, they can win elections, even in states where they haven’t won in over a decade.