From “8 takeaways from the 2021 elections” by Eric Bradner, Gregory Krieg and Dan Merica at CNN Politics:
“Youngkin drafted a playbook for Republicans to navigate around Trump — keeping the former President’s base energized while also winning back a share of suburbanites who had fled the party during Trump’s tenure….[Youngkin] tapped into the brewing culture war over education. He appealed to conservatives steeped in the right-wing media ecosystem by promising to ban critical race theory, which isn’t taught in Virginia schools; to end coronavirus-related school shutdowns and mask mandates; and to launch an expansive charter school program. He also won over moderates by pledging an education budget with money for teacher raises — a core theme in his television ads — and special education….the pandemic appears to be fading as a driving factor at the ballot box….McAuliffe went all-in on linking Glenn Youngkin to Donald Trump and it failed.”
The NJ governor’s race is still razor close as of this writing, but it shouldn’t be. Youngkin’s 2.5 percent margin of victory in VA could get just a little bigger or smaller, when the last votes are counted.
When the margin is that small, you can blame a host of factors, including the BBB and infrastructure circus, Biden’s tanking approval ratings, Youngkin’s impressive campaign skills, McAuliffe’s stale candidate persona, inflation, weak Democratic GOTV, or some combination thereof. Some of those factors likely hurt Democratic Gov. Murphy in NJ as well.
But there’s no denying that the Youngkin campaign skillfully deployed a duplicitous, but effective attack on “critical race theory,” their code for a ‘don’t guilt-trip today’s white school kids for the racism of the past’ message. We will likely see more of it in upcoming campaigns. Democrats have to develop a better response, including a more effective attack strategy of their own.