Why does Virginia keep Joe Biden up at night?

Virginia is a North-Eastern state in America with a population of a little over 8 million, making it the 12th biggest state out of the 50 states of the US. Normally the state is not discussed much in Dutch News, but I noticed a lot of articles in which the state was mentioned this week. So I decided to do some digging.

On November 2nd elections were held in Virginia to elect the new governor of this state. Ralph Northam, the previous governor, was not allowed to re-run for elections because the Constitution of Virginia does not allow consecutive turns. Therefore, it was clear a new candidate had to step up.

Just as every other important political moment in the US, it was a race between the Democrats and the Republicans. Terry McAuliffe, democratic ex-governor of Virginia (2014-2018), lost the election to the Republican Glenn Youngkin. Glenn Youngkin will be the fourth Republican governor of Virginia ever, and the first one since 2009. All the other elections that were taking place at the same time (lieutenant governor and attorney general races) in Virginia were also won by the Republicans, which is a painful fact for the Democrats since Joe Biden won Virginia with a lead of more than 10 percentage points less than a year ago.

In the case of Virginia it could be argued that it was about going back to their roots, as it has only become a more liberal state over the last decade. Before, it was ruled by the Byrd organisation, a political party that was in favour of segregation and was so successful in restricting voter registration that only one third of its population was allowed to vote. However, this cannot be said for all of America. Joe Biden has won the elections with the most popular votes ever. However, in his time in office so far he has lost a lot of his popularity. The only previous President that was less popular at this point was Donald Trump – someone Joe Biden probably does not want to be compared to.

Whereas the democratic party was thriving a year ago, it is currently suffering from internal bickering. The withdrawal from Afghanistan is something no one wants to be reminded of; its big stimulus has passed, but the Democrats have had to make huge compromises to the republicans and the social spending bill has been stalled.

A lot of Democrats are worried about the midterm elections coming up. Their problem in the eyes of political analysts? The loud democratic left-wing activists. They fear that due to these activists the Democrats, they can not count on the moderate voter anymore. The Democrats would have a positive outlook if the electorate was of colour, young and highly educated. However, this is not the electorate of America. The median age next year is 53, and 75% of the voters next year are white, whilst only 36% will be college educated. For this electorate, the activists the Democrats have on their side are absolutely crazy.

The cancel-culture the leftwing activist phrases reminds the electorate of Ostracism. The Republicans are strong at framing and tend to frame the leftwing activists as part of the Democrats. By doing so, they are driving votes away from the Democrats and into their own pocket, as can be seen in Virginia. Joe Biden helps the Republicans a little by replacing the word “mothers” with “birthing persons” in his maternal health guidance. Republicans interpret and promote this as Biden ‘canceling mothers’, even though his aim was to be inclusive. It’s not just cis-gender women that can get pregnant and give birth. Yet, this is a change that has stirred a lot of controversy.

To conclude, it is clear that Mr. Biden does not get a good night’s sleep. The midterm elections are coming up and unfortunately for the Democrats, the Virginian elections are seen as a good predictor for how the results will be. We are curious to see if this will actually happen, or if Biden can turn the tide in his favor.

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