With convincing losses in Virginia, and a nail biter in New Jersey, national Democrats are — quite rightly — worried that voters may turn them out of office in 2022 unless something changes – and fast:
In Virginia, a state that has become reliably blue in recent years, Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe, according to an Associated Press projection; in New Jersey, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy was struggling for his second term — results that suggested the scope of Democratic difficulty was national. There were also repudiations of liberal efforts in varied races, including in Minneapolis, where voters spurned an attempt to replace the police department with a comprehensive safety agency.
The circumstances in the two governor’s races all but confirmed the collapse of the coalition that propelled Democrats to power during the Donald Trump administration and Joe Biden to the presidency in 2020. In the election’s wake, there were fresh doubts in the party about Biden’s ability to push his domestic agenda across the finish line, and to repel the new attacks Republicans have opened on culture fronts, especially over schools. A new round of upheaval over the party’s priorities and strategies appeared imminent.
What do the party’s deep thinkers believe is necessary to avoid a wipe out next year:
Democratic officials and strategists said that to counteract what unfolded in Virginia — strong anti-Democratic and anti-Biden energy driving the conservative base and suburban independents to vote Republican — the party needs to significantly improve its economic pitch, engage with young voters, voters of color and women under 50 far earlier and more aggressively than they have this year and renew efforts to recruit a more diverse slate of candidates.
Sounds a bit like “more of the same, but hoping for different results.” We’ll let the strategists figure that one. Our attention will be on what the politicians do with the powers voters have lent them. And we’ll also remind politicians of all stripes that the offices they occupy are public trusts. No party, no individual pol, has a property right in any of it.