Reviews | Democrats have a lot to learn from the general election | Opinion
Virginia has always been classified as “purple state. “However, in recent years there has been a gap from purple to blue. Democrats held the positions of governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. This “blue waveCame in direct response to Donald Trump’s presidential nomination in 2016 and allowed Democrats to control the majority of posts – until this year.
Democrats lost all political control of the state in the recent election in Virginia. This defeat was suffered due to an overused message linking Youngkin to Trump and a lack of appeal to moderate voters. Democrats must learn the lessons of this defeat to bounce back in the next election.
The race for governor is Virginia’s most expensive campaign. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, $ 105 million was spent on campaign finance by both candidates, with McAuliffe spending the most at $ 55 million. McAuliffe’s campaign spent $ 26 million in pro-McAuliffe and anti-Youngkin ads.
A majority of announcements led by McAuliffe and other Virginia Democrats focused on Donald Trump’s endorsement of Glenn Youngkin ahead of his gubernatorial appointment. Seventy-five percent of McAuliffe’s ads used this comparison in an attempt to mobilize Democratic and moderate voters who disagree with the former president’s policies and constituency. McAuliffe was successful in cementing the bond between Youngkin and Trump in the minds of Virginians, but it ultimately led to defeat.
Why has such a strong message resulted in loss for Democrats?
While consistency is an essential part of political campaign messages, the over-saturation of that message may have tired voters from hearing it repeated.
Carson Sullivan, a sophomore history student and vice president of the Young Socialist Democrats of America at JMU, agrees.
“You can’t build an entire platform on Donald Trump being a bad president,” Sullivan said. “Consistent messaging gets too heavy when you only have two messages to go through – when your message stalls, that’s when it really drops. You just sound like a broken record.
McAuliffe’s messages about Youngkin’s ties to Trump and his previous governorship were solid options at first, but should have changed when they failed to attract more voters. While the polls continued to show a toss in the air for the station, the message has still not been modified. Ads focused on the attack on the connection ran until election day. A different approach could have attracted more voters who would have liked to hear more political options
Although the party is unified by its identity against Trump, a change has caused divisions between them.
Currently, Democrats face a internal conflict within their party. Legislation blocked in Congress indicates a disagreement between the more liberal and progressive members of the Democratic coalition. This change causes a gap between the consistency of positions on the issues.
In order to win more elections, Democrats must prioritize advertising their policies instead of playing in identity politics. Young voters often care about issues such as environmental policy, gun reform and healthcare, so creating more messages around these issues will attract more voters.
For Democrats to win future elections, they need to learn from the mistakes of 2021. They need to unify the party, appeal to more moderate voters, and change messages when theirs aren’t working. With that in mind, Virginia Democrats could reclaim their lost seats.
Luke Pineda is a junior political science student. Contact Luc at [email protected].