The Virginia governor's race wasn't called yet 24 hours ago, but news outlets and strategists alike are already spelling out what Republican Glenn Youngkin's highly-watched win over Democrat Terry McAuliffe means for the fate of Democrats nationwide.
In one example, The Washington Post has posited Youngkin's victory to have cemented the return of Virginia as a swing state. "Virginia was a purple state for quite some time and was always a purple state underneath," Ben Tribbett, a Democratic consultant, told the Post. "But in the Trump era, we became a blue state in reaction to his policies. We will go back to being a swing state going forward." Perhaps a Democratic "safe harbor" no more.
In another, the Post estimates "reeling" Democrats are now reckoning with a soon-to-be-realized threat to their Congressional majorities, as an unexpectedly-tight governor's race in New Jersey and the spurning of a progressive police reform effort in Minneapolis meanwhile undermine the difficulty facing the party. Now, say officials, Democrats must improve their "economic pitch"; connect with young voters, voters of color, and women; and recruit a "more diverse slate" of candidates to perhaps attack the problem and their loss in Virginia, writes the Post.
Additionally, The New York Times argues Democrats floundered without the foil of former President Donald Trump to run against. To that end, other strategists are now calling on Democrats to reevaluate whether a Trump-centric focus is their best election bet.
And, on top of it all, President Biden's key economic agenda has yet to be passed, making it impossible to tout the party's accomplishments. A win could perhaps lie in getting that legislation across the finish line, though it might be even tougher now. Said pollster Josh Ulibarri: "If there's not an economic reason to vote for us, there's not a reason to vote for Democrats."