Glenn Youngkin won the Virginia governor’s race on Tuesday, tapping into culture war fights over schools and race to unite former President Donald Trump’s most fervent supporters with enough suburban voters to become the first Republican to win statewide office here in 12 years.
The 54-year-old Youngkin’s defeat of Democrat Terry McAuliffe marked a sharp turnabout in a state that has shifted to the left over the past decade and was captured by President Joe Biden last year by a 10-point margin. It is certain to add to the Democrats’ anxiety about their grip on political power heading into next year’s midterms when the party’s thin majority in Congress could be erased.
The election was the first major test of voter sentiment since Biden took office, and the results were a stern warning sign for the president’s own support. His administration has been shaken repeatedly in recent months, beginning with the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, challenges in emerging from the pandemic, and a legislative agenda at risk of stalling on Capitol Hill.
Youngkin, a political neophyte and former private equity executive, was able to take advantage of apparent apathy among core Democratic voters fatigued by years of elections that were seen as must-wins. He successfully portrayed McAuliffe, a former Virginia governor, Democratic National Committee chairman and close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, as part of an elite class of politicians. He also seized on a late-stage stumble by McAuliffe, who during a debate performance suggested parents should have a minimal role in shaping school curriculums.
Perhaps most significantly, Youngkin prevailed in a task that has stumped scores of Republicans before him: attracting Trump’s base while also appealing to suburban voters who were repelled by the former president’s divisive behavior.
The New York Times just called the Virginia race for Republican Glenn Youngkin.
Democrats did not have enough stolen votes to win this time.
This was with 95% reporting in the race — for the second time.