Lessons learned from Youngkin’s win in Virginia

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Photo courtesy of WHYY.org

President Joe Biden (left) campaigns for Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (right).

Brayden Rush, Staff Writer

Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin won the race for Virginia governor, defeating Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe. He is now the first Republican to win statewide in Virginia in 12 years.

There is speculation about what this means for Democrats. While there are many reasons why Youngkin could have won, a big possibility is the election’s focus on education and a growing fear by centrist Democrats that the party has moved too far left on many issues.

In Virginia, education of children became perhaps the biggest contested issue during the election.
Youngkin’s campaign focused on allowing parents to have a big say in what their children are exposed to in school and what they are being taught. McAuliffe, however, stated “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

McAuliffe was talking about a bill he vetoed in 2017 which would have allowed parents to prevent their children from reading literature that is deemed to be sexually explicit, such as Toni Morrison’s “Beloved.” However, many parents were concerned as to why they shouldn’t have a say in what their child is exposed to in school.

“Anybody who’s going to tell me I can’t have an opinion about what goes into my kid’s body or what they get taught will never get my vote,” Virginia mother Ashleigh Mitchell told NBC news.

Numerous other issues in education were contested. Some parents were against mask mandates in school and were strongly resisting vaccine mandates for student athletes, which districts like Fairfax County have mandated. Youngkin also made a promise to “ban critical race theory on Day One,” which prompted McAuliffe and other Democrats to point out that there is little evidence critical race theory is taught in Virginia schools. Nevertheless, the issue remained a big concern among Virgina parents.
Democrats lost some support that they had for the presidential election. According to NBC News exit polls, the GOP saw a 13 percentage-point swing among white women, along with a 37-point shift among white women who didn’t go to college.

This shift helped lead Youngkin to victory.

What does all of this mean for the Democratic party?

Democrats need to listen more to what voters are saying and stay away from too-far-left policies. The Democrats had the vote from the suburban white women that Trump alienated but are now losing some of them due to shifting ideology too far left.

Issues such as the economy, rising inflation, and jobs are areas of concern in the country based on polling, and it would seem focusing on these issues might be advisable.