Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses state elections. The 2021 off-year races are a curtain-raiser for the midterms.
Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns at NYT:
Although they had braced for a close race for Virginia governor, Democrats were caught off guard by the intensity of the backlash against their party in major off-year elections. Republicans claimed all three statewide offices in Virginia, will likely take control of the state’s House of Delegates and came close to upsetting Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, whose re-election had been presumed safe by officials in both parties.
Just as jarring for Democrats were some of the less prominent contests: The powerful New Jersey State Senate president, Steve Sweeney, was trailing a truck driver who ran a shoestring campaign; a Latino Republican flipped a Democratic seat in South San Antonio; and Democrats were thrashed in local races across Long Island.
“We were so willing to take seriously a global pandemic, but we’re not willing to say, ‘Yeah, inflation is a problem, and supply chain is a problem, and we don’t have enough workers in our work force,’” said Representative Abigail Spanberger, a Virginia Democrat facing a bruising re-election. “We gloss over that and only like to admit to problems in spaces we dominate.”
More pointedly, Ms. Spanberger said Mr. Biden must not forget that, for many voters, his mandate was quite limited: to remove former President Donald J. Trump from their television screens and to make American life ordinary again.
“Nobody elected him to be F.D.R., they elected him to be normal and stop the chaos,” she said, alluding to the sweeping agenda the president is seeking to enact with the thinnest of legislative majorities.
“This is 2009 all over again,” said former Rep. Steve Israel, the New York Democrat who led the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee right after the disastrous 2010 election, when Democrats lost more than 60 House seats. “The only benefit they have now over 2009 is knowing just how bad it can get.”
Democrats’ House majority — and their path to the White House in 2020 — was built in large part on suburban, college-educated voters who spurned former President Donald Trump. But Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin’s inroads with them — carving deep into the northern Virginia counties where Democratic dominance in the last governor’s race foretold the 2018 “blue wave” — proves Democrats’ support in those suburbs is soft. That's especially true as Biden and congressional Democrats struggle to clinch a deal on their social spending packages and Republicans double down on culture war campaigns.
The entire Republican ecosystem has been hitting the same five issues since the start of 2021.
- Inflation/the rising cost of living.
- Immigration/border security.
- Crime/calls to defund the police.
- President Biden's handling of Afghanistan.
- Teachers' unions/ school mask mandates.