It was not a good Election Day for the Democrats as Republicans signaled that they are ready to fight back after the 2020 election. Now that the dust has settled, it is time to examine the results of some of the key races on Tuesday and what they say about the collective mind of the electorate.
Defeat in the Commonwealth
The most demoralizing loss of the night for the Democrats was in Virginia where the party lost the top offices. This is a state that President Joe Biden cruised to victory in during the 2020 election, winning by 10 percentage points. Democrat Terry McAuliffe lost to Republican Glenn Youngkin in a tight race that officials from both parties had been looking toward as a bellwether for the year ahead.Read More »
Also in the commonwealth, Winsome Sears made history as the state’s next lieutenant governor. A conservative Republican, Sears is the first woman and first woman of color to serve in this role.
Murphy Outlasts Ciattarelli
In an election that was much closer than expected, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is now distinguished as the first Democratic governor in over 40 years to win reelection in this state. The race was not called by most outlets until late Wednesday after Republican Jack Ciattarelli gave Murphy a close call.
Murphy’s tight win also bucked the Garden State’s trend of choosing the nominee of the party that is not currently occupying the White House.
Many political pundits are crediting Murphy’s resolve to stick with vaccine and mask mandates in New Jersey as the reason for his narrow victory. However, like the race in Virginia, Democrats suffered from low turnout and enthusiasm within their base. Murphy greatly benefited from the simple fact that New Jersey has more than a million registered Democrats when compared to Republican voters.
Like Youngkin in Virginia, Ciattarelli attempted to create a distance between him and former President Donald Trump. The strategy also involved trying to win back the suburban voters that fled the Republican Party in 2020 after Trump’s alleged mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis.
In addition to the gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia, there were also a number of significant mayoral elections in some of the nation’s largest cities. Most notably, Democrat Eric Adams won the New York City mayoral election. The retired police captain and current Brooklyn borough president ran his campaign promising to mitigate crime and police abuse. Adams is the second Black mayor in the city’s history.
A little farther north in Boston, Michelle Wu was elected Bean Town’s mayor. The progressive has been likened to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren because of her similar political ideology. Wu is both the first woman and the first person of color to serve in the city of Boston in this role. She ran her campaign on the premise of a Green New Deal for the city, including the idea of a free transit system.
Pennsylvania State Rep. Ed Gainey is now Pittsburgh’s new mayor. The progressive is also the first Black mayor for the city after beating Republican Tony Moreno.
It was not the progressives who had the edge in left-leaning Seattle. Moderate Bruce Harrell defeated the progressive City Council President Lorena González for the top seat in the Emerald City. Harrell is both Japanese American and Black.
What Republicans Can Take Away from Election Night
What was surprising to many political experts is what voters focused on as the most important issues of this election. Exit polling in Virginia demonstrated that the economy was the most important issue with approximately one-third of voters calling it the dominating factor. The next important issue was education followed by taxes and the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the historic 2020 election, the COVID-19 pandemic was undoubtedly the hottest issue. This polling suggests that Americans have largely moved on from the pandemic.
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