Analysis: Biden's struggles, education wars propel Youngkin's Virginia victory

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WASHINGTON, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Republican Glenn Youngkin's upset triumph successful the Virginia politician contention is apt to embolden and energize Republicans up of adjacent year's important midterm elections, erstwhile power of Congress volition beryllium astatine stake.

In edging retired Democrat Terry McAuliffe, Youngkin whitethorn person provided a exemplary for Republican candidates successful 2022, portion Democrats indispensable present fret implicit President Joe Biden's sagging support ratings and stalled docket successful Congress.

Here are immoderate takeaways from Youngkin’s victory:

As Biden struggles, truthful does his party

Biden and his Democrats person had a unsmooth year. The dispersed of COVID-19 and pockets of absorption to vaccines continue. The subject pullout from Afghanistan was wide viewed arsenic chaotic and mismanaged.

The president has struggled to cohere Democratic moderates and progressives astir his big-ticket legislative agenda. At the aforesaid time, prices for user goods, nutrient and substance person changeable up – with voters mostly blaming the enactment successful power.

Simply put, Biden hasn’t fixed voters – peculiarly those extracurricular the Democratic basal - overmuch to consciousness bully about.

Youngkin capitalized connected those troubles, moving up the people successful agrarian Virginia and squeezing McAuliffe’s margins successful immoderate captious suburban areas.

While Biden won independents handily successful 2020, 57% to 38%, Youngkin won them 54% to 45%, according to CNN exit polls. A constrictive bulk of voters wide said the Democratic Party was excessively liberal, the polls showed.

McAuliffe, a erstwhile governor, brought his ain past and baggage to the race. A well-known fig successful Virginia with beardown ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, helium did not springiness voters the caller dependable that governmental newcomer Youngkin offered.

But the losses by McAuliffe and different down-ballot Democrats successful a authorities Biden won by 10 percent points a twelvemonth agone - on with a closer-than-expected New Jersey governor's contention - near nary uncertainty that Democrats are present successful a weaker governmental position.

Signs are pointing to important Republican gains successful Congress adjacent year, said Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster.

“Every survey fig we are seeing paints a bleak representation for President Biden and Democrats successful Congress,” McInturff said.

The civilization wars astir acquisition are potent

Youngkin gained momentum successful the contention by focusing connected education, a strategy Republicans apt volition mimic nationally adjacent twelvemonth arsenic schools person go crushed zero for respective U.S. civilization wars.

The Republican seized connected tensions betwixt parents and schoolhouse boards implicit policies for COVID schoolhouse closures and information protocols, sex issues and the teaching of alleged “critical contention theory” – a word misused to picture antiracism curricula that Youngkin claimed was grounds that schoolhouse districts were drifting excessively acold leftward.

McAuliffe whitethorn person made the largest mistake of the run when, astatine a debate, helium said, “I don’t deliberation parents should beryllium telling schools what they should teach.” The remarks soon became a centerpiece of Youngkin onslaught ads – and the contented arsenic a full whitethorn person resonated with scores of suburban parents frustrated aft seeing their children kept astatine location for much than a afloat schoolhouse twelvemonth during the pandemic.

Voters who believed parents should person “a lot" of accidental implicit what schools thatch went for Youngkin 76% to 23%, according to CNN exit polls. Conversely, of the voters who listed the microorganism arsenic their apical concern, 83% went for McAuliffe and conscionable 17% for Youngkin, CNN said.

“Youngkin’s monolithic overperformance was tied to the issues of schools - and an uprising from parents, who became overnight homeschoolers,” said Doug Heye, who worked arsenic a apical adjutant to Eric Cantor, a erstwhile Republican congressman from Virginia.

A non-Trump lane exists for Republicans

Even with the agelong shadiness Trump continues to formed implicit the Republican Party, Youngkin expertly showed however to support his region from the divisive erstwhile president without incurring his wrath.

A erstwhile CEO of the Carlyle Group, Youngkin ran arsenic a businessman outsider campaigner alternatively than a Trump acolyte. He mostly steered wide of endorsing Trump’s bogus claims that helium mislaid past year’s elections owed to fraud, portion inactive supporting the rule of “voter integrity.” Unlike Trump, Youngkin was a full-throated advocator of vaccines, adjacent arsenic helium opposed mandates.

While Trump endorsed him aggregate times, Youngkin resisted a afloat clasp to the constituent that Trump yet did not travel to the authorities to run connected his behalf.

Youngkin “is providing a model” for Republicans, said Tom Davis, a erstwhile Republican congressman from Virginia. “He has separated himself beauteous well.”

No 1 was hoping Trump would travel to the authorities much than McAuliffe, who spent overmuch of his run trying to necktie Youngkin to Trump astatine each turn. It didn’t work. Exit polls by NBC showed voters viewed Youngkin overmuch much favorably than Trump, who remains unpopular successful the state.

Even Trump took note. "All McAuliffe did was speech Trump, Trump, Trump and helium lost!," helium said successful a connection connected Tuesday. "I conjecture radical moving for bureau arsenic Democrats won’t beryllium doing that excessively overmuch longer."

Reporting by James Oliphant; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Stephen Coates

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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