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Virginia Delegate Races Could Reflect National Anti-Democratic Mood!

Salena Zito on

RICHMOND, Virginia -- Some of the many overlooked but critically important offices in the American political landscape are the ones held by state legislators and members of general assemblies. These are the people who are most like us, the ones who live in neighborhoods close to ours, sit in the pews on Sundays and attend the local high school football games with everyone else.

They are the elected officials who rarely have an entourage but have as much of a vested interest as you in ensuring that roads and bridges in your town are safe, because they have to drive those same roads.

When they are on the ballot, their elections often give us hints on the most granular level, either of how the electorate feels about each political party long before a big national election or of whether something is brewing that the press and politicians are missing.

Last November, when President Joe Biden narrowly defeated then-President Donald Trump, the blue (Democratic) wave predicted to happen down-ballot along with Biden defeating Trump in double digits never materialized. In fact, if you paid attention in down-ballot races in state legislative bodies across the country, there was indeed a red (Republican) wave instead.

In Pennsylvania, where Biden won, there were no Biden coattails down-ballot. Democrats lost five contested state Senate seats they were expected to win, along with two upset losses in statewide races.

In fact, despite having an excess amount of money from Democratic super PACs run by former Attorney General Eric Holder and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg dumped into races across the country, Democrats actually lost ground in important state legislative races from the Rust Belt to the Arizona Sun Belt.

 

These were races they all bragged that they would win.

Those results were telling us something most didn't pay attention to, in the same way that too few people paid attention here in Richmond four years ago, when Virginia Republicans' 32-seat majority in the House of Delegates almost completely evaporated in 2017.

By the time the next off-year election rolled around in 2019, the Republicans' by-then flimsy 51-49 seat majority turned into a 45-55 deficit, putting Democrats in the catbird seat.

The race here in 2017 told us that college-educated, center-right suburban voters wanted nothing to do with anything associated with Trump's comportment. For them, it had infected any attachment they felt for conservative policies.

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