Yesterday was horrible for Democrats. There's no other way to put it.
After going for Biden over Trump by ten points in 2020, Virginia elected the Republican candidate for Governor, Glenn Youngkin, by several points. He was endorsed by Trump, but avoided an overly close connection with Trump. And it looks like the GOP will recapture the Virginia House of Delegates
Almost equally disturbing for Democrats was the close race for New Jersey Governor. That state went for Biden over Trump by sixteen points in 2020. The incumbent Governor, Democrat Philip Murphy, beat his Republican challenger, Jack Ciattarelli, by just 1 percent or so.
What could this mean for Oregon?
Well, Oregon voted for Biden over Trump by sixteen points, 56% to 40%. Exactly the same margin as New Jersey. So, sure, Oregon could elect a Republican Governor in November 2022, and Democrats could see their margin in the state House and Senate whittled down or even eliminated.
But wasn't the bad showing for Democrats in Virginia and New Jersey caused by a much larger turnout of passionate Trump supporters, compared to other voters, something that's much less likely to happen in the 2022 midterm election?
In Virginia at least, where there's been more analysis of yesterday's results, the problem for Democrats was that Republicans got a larger share of the vote across the board, including independent-leaning suburban voters who were a big part of Biden's victory in 2020.
That said, there was indeed lower turnout among 2020 Biden voters, probably because they're disturbed by how little of Biden's agenda Congressional Democrats have been able to pass so far, even though they control both the Senate and House, albeit by very slim margins.
The main good news for Democrats in Oregon and elsewhere is that this is November 2021, a year from the 2022 midterms and three years from the 2024 presidential election.
There's still time for Congress to pass the two infrastructure bills, physical and social, hopefully along with some sort of immigration reform, policing reform, and most importantly, voting rights legislation. I've been bothered by the lack of urgency from Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress.
They seem to think there's a good chance Democrats will maintain control of both the Senate and House following the 2022 midterm election. Well, that chance was slim prior to yesterday's results in Virginia and New Jersey.
Given how poorly Democrats performed, the odds now are considerably higher that Republicans will be in control of one or both houses of Congress after the 2022 election. So Biden needs to pull out all the stops, including pressuring Manchin and Sinema to do away with the filibuster for voting rights bills.
However, one more bit of bad news is that Virginia and New Jersey hadn't passed voter suppression legislation. This shows that Republicans can win elections in blue states fair and square. It'd be nice if the GOP realized this means they can stop with trying to make it harder to vote. But that isn't going to happen.
On the good news front, in Virginia Glenn Youngkin was chosen as the Republican governor candidate in an unusual fashion that seemed designed to prevent a Trumpist crazy candidate from being nominated.
Seven candidates competed in an unusual and controversial "unassembled convention" Saturday, when 28,000 Republican voters and activists cast weighted and ranked-choice ballots at dozens of locations across the state after the party opted against a standard primary.
It seems unlikely that Oregon Republicans will be able to resist choosing a far right-wing candidate in their primary to pick the GOP candidate for governor. Youngkin would be viewed as too moderate by most Republicans, so I'm betting that Oregon will see a more Trump-like candidate go up against the Democrat nominee.
Youngkin benefitted from being a fresh face in Virginia politics, while McAuliffe had been governor before (Virginia doesn't allow the governor to serve two consecutive terms, for some weird reason).
This makes me think that former New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who has announced his candidacy for Oregon governor, could be an appealing choice. He wouldn't have the political baggage that other candidates like House Speaker Tina Kotek would bring to the race.
Regardless who the Democratic candidate is, it seems clear that their campaign can't be based on being opposed to Trump. That didn't work for McAuliffe in Virginia, though it was successful for Joe Biden when Trump was still president, still on Twitter, and still saying his usual crazy stuff.
My other piece of advice for Oregon Democrats in 2022 is to campaign as aggressively and with as much passion as Republicans have been doing. Social/cultural issues are going to keep on being emphasized by Republican candidates, since that worked well for them in Virginia.
Race has to be handled more wisely by Democrats than decrying attacks on Critical Race Theory. Sure, that isn't taught in schools other than colleges.
But Youngkin appeared to benefit by appearing Obama-like in his view that America's goal should be to view people as who they are, not as Black, Brown, White, or whatever. Wiser political minds than what I possess are arguing persuasively that Democrats have to find a way to talk about race that doesn't serve up Republican talking points like the horrible "Defund the Police."
Minneapolis voted down a proposal to do away with the police department, even though that's where George Floyd's murder happened. Blacks don't want to do away with police; they want common sense reforms of how police departments operate.
The woke far left can't be allowed to dominate Democratic politics, not in Oregon, not anywhere else. There's a big difference between pushing popular issues like paid family leave and lowering the price of prescription drugs, and pushing highly controversial topics like all whites are racist, even if they don't know it.
Here's a sampling of tweets I've come across that are related to yesterday's election.