Winners and Losers: Youngkin Edition
Closer than either side claimed things to be, Republicans sweep statewide and rescue the House of Delegates from Democratic control.
The whole election came down to 70,000 votes.
For me, this is the fun part where I look at my own MS Excel charts — yes, old habits die hard — with my own special math and reflect on what I got right and what I missed.
Despite counsel otherwise, Princess Blanding of the Liberation Party did not make a sizeable impact. The generic ballot was probably even, right where Christopher Newport University put it (I had it at D+2). Youngkin winning the race by 5-8 points? Pure bunk and the people peddling it should be ashamed of themselves — such rumors drove up Democratic turnout.
I had also assumed a universe of 2.6 million (most assumed 2.3 million) and over 3 million Virginians voted. Early voting cut both ways as Republicans and Democrats both enjoyed the advantages and reaped the benefits.
Yet by and large, the election really did pivot on about 30,000 votes — slightly more than I anticipated given the 70,000 vote margin.
Things were close and Republicans fought for every vote — and won despite the odds.
On to the Winners and Losers:
WINNERS: The Most Diverse Ticket In Virginia History (TM)
Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin: Sometimes a campaign just has to be wise enough to put out the sails and catch the wind. Did Youngkin really win this race? Probably not — Biden dropping 15 points after the forfeiture of Afghanistan coupled with McAuliffe’s jaw-dropping gaffe regarding the role of parents in education put things on a silver platter. Yet Youngkin had the foresight and command presence to adapt quickly, pivoting away from the grocery tax and hopping on the one thing they avoided all election long — divisive social issues.
Lieutenant Governor-elect Winsome Sears: Fun fact? The office of lieutenant governor is far older than the office of governor, with the Virginia Council of London selecting one of their own as governor until the King appointed a royal governor. This individual was also president of the council, which evolved over time into the Virginia Senate we know today. Also — Winsome Sears is a great American and I couldn’t be happier to see her serve as the conscience of the Virginia Republican Party.
Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares: Want to know why Hispanic voters supported the Republican ticket by +10? Miyares is a personal friend and a great man — expect great things.
RPV Chairman Rich Anderson: Let’s be honest — the power of our party chairmen as of late has waned from our heydays before McCain-Feingold, much denuded from the heady days where Ed Gillespie hoovered in $2.3mil for our candidate and where Pat Mullins was able to rake in $1.5mil in 2014. Yet with the tools at hand, RPV committed zero forced errors and zero fouls — and if there was any gap between the unit committees and the campaigns? No one said a word — which is a great start for rebuilding and reconstituting our party from the ground up.
Majority Leader Todd Gilbert: Seven seats, ladies and gentlemen. I predicted nine and it might still come to pass, but take nothing away from Gilbert and the leadership of the House Republican Caucus.
Virginia’s Conservative Commentariat: Jim Bacon over at Bacon’s Rebellion, Kerry Dougherty over at Unemployed and Unedited, Chris Braunlich and Steve Hander over at the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy (TJIPP) — all did yeoman’s work pushing back against both the prevailing media narrative and the high arrogance of low to mid-level campaign staff.
Independent Media: Allow me to give a shout out to Brad Kutner of Courthouse News Service (CNS) and Brandon Jarvis of the Virginia Scope. Graham Moomaw of Virginia Mercury and the new kids on the block at Cardinal News are all pointing the way of the future.
CNU Wason: Once again, the most accurate pollster in Virginia.
Virginia FREE: If you’re not reading Chris Saxman’s stuff, you simply aren’t informed about Virginia politics.
Former President Donald Trump’s 2024 Presidential Campaign: Here’s the thing — whether you love the man or find him too abrasive, Trump taught Republicans that it was OK to fight again. The political left can burn down cities and beat up police officers — that’s their latitude and appetite for political change. The political right does what the VEA does and yells at a few school boards and that is labeled domestic terrorism? Folks are fed up; Brandon is on his way. The low and slow boil is working even if Youngkin is adept enough to keep his distance — a cross between chess and kabuki theater if there ever was one.
DRAW: Will Republicans Keep Their Word?
Pro-Lifers and 2A Defenders: Let’s be honest — pro-lifers voted against McAuliffe, but universally feel sold out by our own leadership. Expect a new Virginia statewide pro-life organization soon. Meanwhile, 2A defenders — also voting against McAuliffe — will expect action and not words when it comes to items such as constitutional carry. We are watching.
School choice proponents: A draw, you say? Hear me out… because it is one thing to stop the bad guys; something else entirely to actually commit an entire gubernatorial term to the active work of reforming education from stem to stern — including school choice vouchers for government education, free community college and vocational training, STEM-H academies, and microfinance institutions for small business development. If we fix this, ladies and gentlemen, we can fix the culture in 20 years — no joke. But it will take a revolutionary degree of commitment from parents. The alternative? Is that you are deemed permanently racist by your government (and the Dems were not joking on this matter).
Former Governor Terry McAuliffe: Let me say this — McAuliffe rang the warning bell about four weeks before Youngkin was on top of him. Four weeks. That’s political tradecraft you can’t teach. Glad he lost — don’t get me wrong — but game respects game.
LOSERS: People So Offended By Racism They Cosplay as Neo-Nazis At Republican Events (You Morons)
Virginia’s Legacy Media (Again): How long do the rest of us have to tolerate the steady stream of those who simply know better? The institution is broken; maybe we could use a few more opinions?
Former Delegate Hala Ayala: Winsome Sears was panned as a losing candidate, with Ayala being the one sure “get” for Democrats. One small problem with that? Sears is always pegged as the losing candidate…
Attorney General Mark Herring: Republicans will remember that when Herring came into office, he fired everyone so as to clean house for his progressive allies. Miyares would be well served to do likewise.
The Democratic Party of Virginia: These clowns decided that anti-Semitism was so bad that they cosplayed as neo-Nazis four days before the election, fed it to willing enablers in the media as true, then demanded resignations. Not a single DPVA staffer resigned as a result of this stunt — not ONE.
Critical Race Theory: Democrats are missing the point calling former Biden supporters racists for voting for Youngkin just 12 months later, as if that were their motivation in the slightest. Republicans just elected the Most Racially Diverse Ticket In Virginia History (TM) to all three statewide posts — meanwhile McAuliffe elbowed out two well-qualified black contenders for the gubernatorial nod and embraced two statewide candidates with an affinity for blackface. Physician, heal thyself.
The Blogerati: Once upon a time, Virginia’s blogosphere bestrode the political environment like a colossus. In 2009, the bloggers were the media. Today the titans of the Virginia blogosphere — Blue Virginia, Bearing Drift, Bull Elephant — were barely heard from. Passing of an era?
House Democrats: Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. They tore down statues and made a complete wreck of the lower house, even to the point where Senate Democrats had to counsel and castigate the commons. It didn’t matter and it cost them their roles as leaders. Sic transit gloria mundi…
Which of course leads us all to a moment of reflection. Because while victory might have 1,000 fathers and especially in close races, there are certain personalities who make the rest possible — even to the realm of possibility.
That man is Pete Snyder.
ONE LAST SHOUT OUT TO THE MAN WHOSE HARD WORK WHO MADE VICTORY HAPPEN
Once upon a time, the Republican Party of Virginia couldn’t rub two wooden nickels together. Activists didn’t trust their own party, candidates didn’t trust the party, elected officials didn’t invest in their own institutions, State Central Committee was at sixes-and-sevens, and the Republican congressional delegation was waiting on the aftermath of several primary contests before they would decide whether a hostile State Central was worth rescuing.
Pete Snyder didn’t care about any of that.
For 12 years, this man has propped up the Republican Party in Virginia when few others — in fact, no one else — would. For 12 years, he gathered the best and brightest, made friendships, healed divisions, and would pick up the phone at any time just to shoot the breeze or offer advice.
Fate decided that this was not his year.
Some of that support he cultivated bled away to other campaigns. Damn shame on them, but you never heard Pete Snyder whine even once. Snyder kept plugging along and doing the right thing. The turncoats get the reward of a dirty conscience.
Yet if imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, then Youngkin adopting most if not all of Snyder’s campaign rhetoric — right down to his persona as a happy warrior and mimicking Snyder’s 30 Day Fund which rescued thousands of small businesses — was perhaps the best hat tip in recent memory.
Yet none of what just happened would have happened without Pete Snyder putting in the work when others stood aloof and distant during the dog days.
Pete Snyder @petesnyderSnyders are ALL IN for @GlennYoungkin @WinsomeSears + @JasonMiyaresVA - MAKE HISTORY TODAY #Virginia https://t.co/2rsvEbhG00
Quality deserves recognition. This man is owed our thanks.
That makes him a winner in my book.
So What Happens Next?
Back when Youngkin was down by 7-9 points, the moment of reversal came when the campaign settled down to brass tacks and began embracing a policy agenda based on the TRS Contract With Virginia — the now famous Day One Plan.
This plan is now a staggering reality that the incoming Youngkin administration will be hammering home for the foreseeable future.
Tax cuts, fully funding the police, 400,000 new jobs and 10,000 new small business startups, banning CRT and building 20 new charter schools, and fixing the DMV and Voter ID? All on the table and all going to the Virginia Senate where 1.5 million Virginians will expect immediate answers.
I don’t know who is more excited about the revamp — defenders of parental choice in education or the Department of Motor Vehicles who desperately wants the technology upgrade.
Either way, there is nothing here that Senate Democrats should be able to oppose legitimately in January — at least, not without earning the ire and anger that just wiped out Democratic majorities in the lower chamber.
Youngkin is certainly in the driver’s seat to do more on education reform. The question remains as to how much political capital Youngkin is willing to sacrifice — or earn — in order to fulfill his promises to Virginia parents.
I suspect Youngkin will be a man of his word and then some — which is great news for Virginia families in the most significant win for Virginia Republicans since George Allen’s 1993 win.
Shaun Kenney is the editor of The Republican Standard, former chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Fluvanna County, and a former executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia.