By David Faris, The Week
Why poor showings in Virginia and New Jersey elections are a bad omen for 2022
Voters went to the polls Tuesday in off-year gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey that have long served as the first reliable preview of the country’s political mood after a presidential election. The results send a very strong signal that the political environment has turned sharply against President Biden and the Democrats, and that adjustments will need to be made – and fast – if the party wants to avoid a midterm bloodbath a year from now.
While final margins are still being calculated, Republican Glenn Youngkin posted a stunning victory over former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe in Virginia (the state prohibits governors from serving consecutive terms) of around 2-3 percent. And in New Jersey, where votes are still being counted, the race between Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and his Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli was much closer than polls had suggested. Democrats also appear to have fallen into a 50-50 tie with Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates.
These results could be compared against Biden’s in these states last year, or against the results in 2017, and neither comparison is flattering for Democrats. Four years ago, in a sharply anti-Republican environment, Democrat Ralph Northam won the race for Virginia governor by just under 9 percentage points, and Murphy crushed his Republican opponent in New Jersey by over 14. In 2020, a less favorable year for Democrats nationally, Biden won Virginia and New Jersey by 11 and just under 16 points, respectively.