U.S. – Election night 2021 provides Americans an idea of how the 2022 midterm elections may go and what the second half of President Joe Biden’s first term could look like. Several key elections that were held across the country included the New York City and Buffalo, New York’s Mayoral Elections; Minneapolis’ ballot question to replace their police department with a department of public safety, the Virginia and the New Jersey statewide elections.
Virginia’s election saw a Republican sweep in the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General races as well as the Republicans gaining a majority in the House of Delegates. Businessman and former college basketball player Glenn Youngkin defeated Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. McAuliffe was seeking a second term after being elected to his first term in 2013. Instead of running for both terms consecutively, in Virginia, the Governor can only run for the first term, wait four years and then run for their second term afterward — the same goes for the Lieutenant Governor, but not for the Attorney General.
Former Republican Virginia House of Delegates member Winsome Sears defeated current Democratic Virginia House of Delegates member, Hala Ayala. This makes Ayala the commonwealth’s first woman of color to hold the office. Current Republican Virginia House of Delegates member Jason Miyares defeated Attorney General Mark Herring. Miyares’ win made history as well with Miyares becoming the first Latino elected to the office.
Experts are debating on what attributed to the Republican sweep in Virginia as it could be a number of factors. Some of these factors include Youngkin distancing himself away from Former President Donald Trump; not openly condemning Trump and focusing on local Virginia issues as opposed to McAuliffe consistently tying Youngkin to Trump. Youngkin benefited from his focus on key issues like school choice and educational freedom since they appeal to suburban and independent Virginian voters that turned away from Republicans in 2020. The national environment is not being good for the Democrats currently with inflation on the rise and the historical midterm election year precedent being in the GOP’s favor. The results in Virginia create a purple state strategy for the GOP to win competitive elections and act as a bellwether for an inevitable 2022 red wave year.
New Jersey saw surprises that excite the GOP going into the 2022 midterm elections. Voters in New Jersey, a safe democratic state, gave incumbent Governor, Phil Murphy a narrow victory versus his Republican opponent Former General Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli. Ciattarelli also focused on local issues, specifically on lowering taxes.
New York City elected Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams over his Republican opponent, Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels. Voters in the city of Buffalo re-elected Mayor Byron Brown over his Democratic opponent, India Walton, via a write-in candidacy after losing to her in the democratic primary a few months prior. Brown, a more moderate democrat compared to Walton, who calls herself a Democratic Socialist, won the Mayoral election partially with the help of the New York GOP.
Walton was further to the left of Brown and one of her key policies is to defund the police. The defunding of the police movement appears to not resonate with voters in Buffalo as it did in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where voters turned down efforts to replace the police department with a department of public safety.
It wasn’t all victories for the GOP on election night. In Rhode Island State Senate District three, former Providence City Councilman Sam Zurier won in a landslide victory versus Republican opponent Alex Cannon.
Looking ahead, results from election night 2021 also give an idea of what the national political environment looks like heading into the 2022 midterms. If historical precedent continues, the GOP may take a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate and make gains throughout the country that they lost in the Trump years. Come January 2023, a scenario of Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) could spell trouble for Biden’s agenda and the second half of his first term.