A Republican elected governor of Virginia, big slap for Joe Biden

Joe Biden knows that next year’s midterms are shaping up to be tough, as is tradition for the ruling party. But with the defeat of the Democratic candidate who was running for a second – non-consecutive – term as governor of Virginia, on Tuesday, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer can officially worry about their fragile majority in Congress.

Republican Glenn Youngkin, a 54-year-old businessman who won over Donald Trump’s electorate without scaring away the independents, was elected by a margin of nearly 3 points (51% vs. 48.3% on 95% of the ballots stripped). Big favorite a month ago, Terry McAuliffe, governor from 2014 to 2018 and very close to Bill and Hillary Clinton, collapsed in the home stretch. A cons-performance that challenges, while a year ago, Joe Biden won this state with a 10-point gap against Donald Trump. The US president has also personally engaged in the battle, campaigning for McAuliffe at the end of October.

Post-Trump winning recipe for Republicans

During the primaries, Glenn Youngkin surfed on the “big lie”, the so-called electoral fraud denounced by Donald Trump and his supporters. But after extricating himself from the Republican squad, he distanced himself from the former US president, recognizing in particular that Joe Biden’s victory was “legitimate”, a strategy that could give ideas to conservatives next year.

To mobilize his grassroots, Youngkin stirred up “culture war” by fiercely fighting the teaching of “critical race theory,” a school of thought that analyzes racism as a system rather than at the level of individual prejudices. He successfully focused his campaign on education, ensuring that parents should have influence over their children’s school programs, undermining Terry McAuliffe in a televised debate.

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For Joe Biden, many signals are red. Controversial withdrawal from Afghanistan, inflation, Democratic finance bills pending in Congress… The American president has collapsed by 10 points in the polls since mid-July, to 43% satisfied against 51% dissatisfied. According to Dave Wasserman, influential editor of the Cook Political Report, “tonight’s results are consistent with a political environment in which Republicans could comfortably take over the House and Senate in 2022.” In such a scenario, Joe Biden’s second half of tenure would be undoubtedly completely paralyzed, with major reforms impossible to pass.

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