Lessons from Tuesday
There's a lot of lessons both parties can, but probably won't, learn from Election Day
Everything you need to know about Election Day 2021 can be summed up in two words: New Jersey.
While America watched patiently to see who won the main card event between Glenn Youngkin and Terry McAuliffe in Virginia, a heated contest broke out where it was least expected, in New Jersey. The battle between New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and his Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli became one of the closest races for governor in New Jersey history.
Nobody, maybe outside of Ciattarerlli and New Jersey Republicans, thought that the New Jersey Governor’s race was going to be particularly competitive. And incumbent Democrat Murphy ultimately won. It certainly was a shock to the system for Democrats, who were already having a bad night watching Republicans sweep Virginia’s statewide offices and win back their statehouse.
There’s a lot of things that both parties can learn from the election results. Let’s start with the winners.
Lessons Learned for Republicans
Lesson #1: Nationalism is Not What Wins
You know what Glenn Youngkin did not do? He did not follow the playbook championed by Donald Trump, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert and the one currently being championed by candidates like Delegate Dan Cox. He ditched the nativism and nationalism and ran as a conservative Republican.
Lesson #2: Being a “Fighter” Does Not Mean “Being a Jerk”
Glenn Youngkin ran as a sensible Republican. He was both business-like and fatherly like. He was not yelling, not screaming, not making a fool of himself. That resonated with the suburban voters who came back to the GOP Tuesday night.
Lesson #3: Less Trump Equals More Votes
A lot of candidates have embraced Donald Trump over the last five years, particularly in an effort to get through a Republican primary. That strategy has never worked in a general election. Youngkin did not fully reject Trump, nor did he actually embrace him. He worked around the landmine that was having Trump as an albatross around his neck and it worked. While Democrats tried to make a vote for Youngkin a vote against Trump, Youngkin’s keeping of Trump at a distance inoculated him from such accusations.
“For me, a lifelong Republican, honestly, it came down to Trump,” said one voter, who wouldn’t give his name for fear he would get in trouble at his union shop. “If he had participated more in this election,” the voter said, “you would have seen me go left.”
This voter, a “lifelong Republican who voted anyone but Trump," pulled the lever for President Joe Biden in 2020, his first-ever vote for a Democrat, he said. He was cool with Youngkin, he told me, because Youngkin didn’t hug Trump. His wife, a lifelong Democrat, voted for McAuliffe (“I am a strong supporter of women’s rights.”).
“I wanted to vote against Terry,” said Jake, a lobbyist who opposed Trump. “Youngkin, I don’t know him, but he seemed like a reasonable guy.” Jake supported Marco Rubio in the 2016 primary.
“I just can't do the Trump thing. It’s just not for me.” Jake said. “But Youngkin is not Trump. That’s who I wanted Trump to be, but he just isn’t — a nonpolitician.”
If somebody can get it through Trump’s thick skull that by staying out of the way he might help himself (in his mind), both sides will end up happier.
Would probably help for somebody to give the iggy to GOP Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, too…
Lesson #4: Trump Lost in 2020 Fairly and the Stragglers Still Buying This Nonsense Need to Get The Hell Over It
I mean, this has been obvious for a year, but the fact that Democrats got wiped out in Virginia, a state where they controlled all the avenues of power, it kinda lays waste to the argument of stolen elections.
Lessons Learned for Democrats
Lesson #1: Don’t F*** With Parents
Want to know where Glenn Youngkin won the election? Right here.
You know when else Youngkin won the election? The moment that the National School Board Association started accusing parents of being terrorists.
These issues became extremely prevalent when you remember that the Loudon County School Board allegedly covered up a rape case involving a boy who wore a skirt into a girls bathroom.
The combination of McAuliffe’s comments and the NSBA letter really struck a tone for Virginia parents when they were seeing what was happening with the Loudon case and a whole, whole lot more.
Democrats should take a hard look at what happened here and maybe start to value parents at least as much as they do their Teacher’s Union pals.
Lesson #2: Left-Wing Progressivism is the Washington Generals of Competitive Elections
Back in June, socialist India Walton upset Buffalo incumbent Byron Brown in the Democratic Mayoral Primary. Brown immediately launched a write-in campaign for the general election as soon as a majority of Buffalo residents realized what happened.
Meanwhile, remember when Minneapolis voted to “defund the police”? Yeah, about that:
Voters in Minneapolis have resoundingly rejected a proposal to reinvent policing in their city, 17 months after the killing of George Floyd by police sparked massive protests and calls for change.
Approximately 56% of voters rejected a ballot question that would have removed the Minneapolis Police Department from the city charter, replacing it with a "public-health oriented" Department of Public Safety.
Two Minneapolis City Council members who supported the failed policing charter amendment have lost their seats.
The city declared based on unofficial results that Phillipe Cunningham of the Fourth Ward lost to opponent LaTrisha Vetaw. Challenger Emily Koski was declared the unofficial winner over Jeremy Schroeder in the 11th Ward.
Even Seattle got in on the act. Seattle:
Republican Ann Davison held a strong 58% to 41% lead in the race for Seattle city attorney, with returns Tuesday showing voters rejecting the brash language of her police abolitionist opponent, Nicole Thomas-Kennedy, in favor of Davison’s law-and-order stance.
Hell, Democrats in New York couldn’t even get constitutional amendments on voting reforms across the finish line. In New York:
New York voters appeared to reject three ballot proposals that would have implemented reforms favored by elected Democrats, including same-day voter registration and a measure that would have allowed anyone to cast an absentee ballot.
With 86% of election districts reporting, ballot proposals 1, 3 and 4 were headed toward apparent defeat, a rare statewide victory for Republicans who helped organize opposition to the measures in a state that has a 2-to-1 Democratic enrollment advantage.
Proposal 1 would have made a number of changes to the state's redistricting process, while proposal 3 would have paved the way for same-day voter registration and proposal 4 allowed for "no-excuse" absentee voting.
The looney, left-wing policies of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and “The Squad” may play well in their heavily gerrymandered districts, but it doesn’t play well in elections where people get a choice in the general election.
Whether the left admits it or not, their pet causes like “Defund the Police” and “Critical Race Theory” were on the ballot Tuesday. And they lost. Democrats are severely out of touch with the electorate.
Though they were state elections, the progressive policies pushed by President Joe Biden during his administration were front of mind for people. Voters do not approve of the Biden Agenda and is performance in his first year in office. Sure, all elections are local and this did not have an overwhelming impact on the choices that voters make. But it could make all the difference, for example, in New Jersey if Ciaterelli holds on for the upset.
The popularity of progressive politics has plummeted.
Lesson #3: Calling Everybody and Everything Racist Pisses People Off
Apparently Jemele Hill has never heard of Virginia Lt. Governor-Elect Winsome Sears.
The left, seemingly forever now, has accused Republicans of being racist. They have accused everything of being racist. Sometimes, it turns out to be true. But generally speaking, it just isn’t even close to being accurate.
Democrats have so diminished the power of the term racist that people are now completely desensitized to it. That’s a problem when real issues of racism pop up, as they sometimes do. But voters, particularly white suburban swing voters, have just about had enough of being called racists simply because they exist.
Lesson #4: A Tide Has Turned in the Culture War
The first three lessons here all really get wrapped up in this. Democrats may think that they are in the ascendency because of the pats on the back they get from MSNBC and others in the media. They may think that they have won over swing voters because ex-conservatives like Bill Kristol parrot their talking points now. But the election results are clear with this.
Voters are skeptical of Critical Race Theory. Voters are skeptical of the education bureaucracy. Voters are skeptical about calling everything racist. Voters are skeptical that all Republicans are Trump. Voters are skeptical of the Biden Administration.
The Democrats have overplayed their hand in the culture wars. And the voters responded.
So What’s Next?
Well, like I said at the start of this: here's a lot of lessons both parties can, but probably won't, learn from Election Day.
I have no doubt that some Republican candidates will continue to embrace nativism, Trump, and populism even though it’s a loser strategy.
I have no doubt that Democrats will continue to push radical left-wing policies and socialism, no matter how unpopular it is.
As the focus turns to the 2022 Midterm elections (particularly Maryland’s race for Governor for me) I imagine…..both parties will continue to do the same thing. While 2021 certainly does not presage a Republican rout in 2022, both parties would be well-served to learn some of these lessons and adjust fire if they want to succeed next year….
…..but they probably won’t.