Analysts Explain Why GOP Underperformed In Virginia
Authored by Terri Wu via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
Instead of a “red wave,” the midterm election results look more like “a red ripple” scenario, with Republicans appearing to be headed to a narrow majority in the House.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) with supporters in Woodbridge, Va., on Oct. 22, 2022. (Terri Wu/The Epoch Times)
And for the three Virginia competitive races generally perceived as national bellwethers for GOP performance, Republicans won one out of the three.
In the military-heavy 2nd Congressional District in the Virginia Beach area, Republican challenger state Sen. Jen Kiggans unseated incumbent Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.).
In both the 7th and 10th Congressional Districts in exurban areas outside Washington and a few solid red rural counties, Republican challengers fell short of flipping the seats. Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega lost to Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) by a narrow margin in the 7th District. And in the 10th District, retired Navy captain Hung Cao trailed Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) by more than five percent of the vote.
Analysts summarized that the reasons for the Republican underperformance as a combination of inflated expectations, underestimation of the strength of the abortion issue, performance in diverse communities, and the Youngkin and Trump factors.
Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) (4th R) with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Virginia 512 president David Broder (R), Loudoun County Chair Junius Reynolds (5th R), and other members at Wexton’s reelection campaign kickoff event in Ashburn, Va., on June 20, 2022. (Terri Wu/The Epoch Times)
Inflated Expectations Met Reality in Northern Virginia
“Republicans had tremendously inflated expectations about the Wexton race,” Richmond-based veteran political analyst Bob Holsworth told The Epoch Times. “Republicans have not been running well in Northern Virginia. And that district, even though it includes some Republican areas, is centered in Loudoun, where the Democrats have been running very well.
“They [Republicans] watched Fox News that Loudoun is becoming a Republican county. It’s going the other way. It’s a Democratic county.”
For the Spanberger–Vega race, Holsworth said the quality of the candidate was a significant factor.
“[Spanberger] had been rated to be one of the more bipartisan members of Congress,” he said.
And the endorsement from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) mattered, according to Holsworth.
He summarized Spanberger’s election results as a solid performance in Democrat-leaning areas, noting that the congresswoman was able to reduce Vega’s margin in more Republican-leaning areas, such as Stafford, Spotsylvania, and Orange counties, compared to Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s gubernatorial race last year.
“You had a situation where this was a district [the 7th Congressional District] that Biden won by seven, Youngkin won by five, and now Spanberger won it by four to five,” Holsworth said, noting that Spanberger was an “extraordinarily energetic candidate” who raised a lot of money.
Abortion Issue and Getting Votes from Diverse Communities
Ron Wright, cofounder of the Suburban Virginia Republican Coalition, told The Epoch Times that Republicans “underestimated the strength of the abortion issue” and didn’t do well in diverse communities, such as black, Hispanic, and Asian communities.
“In Florida, I think they’ve done a great job in reaching out to the Hispanic community and building a strong base there. I think the Republican Party of Virginia needs work,” he said.
Wright said the growth in northern Virginia is in Loudoun and Prince William counties, the exurban areas outside Washington. And those communities are diverse.
“The Republican Party is not reaching the diverse communities,” he said.
Holsworth agreed that Republicans underestimated the abortion issue.
“There’s no doubt about that nationally,” he said. “And here, it’s a 60–40 issue in Virginia in the Democrats’ favor.”
As for the Spanberger–Vega race, Wright thought Spanberger won by doing well in diverse communities and having raised much more money to pay for door-knocking to drive the turnout.
According to the Federal Election Commission, Spanberger outraised Vega by three times as of Oct. 19. With the disbursements by Oct. 19 and their final vote counts, Spanberger’s cost per vote is about three times as much as Vegas’s: $60 per vote for Spanberger compared to about $20 per vote for Vega.
Both ran an equal amount of negative ads on each other, as shown by data collected by the Virginia Public Access Project.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (L) at a campaign event for Republican Congressional candidate Yesli Vega (R) in Fredericksburg, Va., on Nov. 5, 2022. (Terri Wu/The Epoch Times)
‘Each Election Is Its Own’
Wright didn’t think there was complacency on Vega’s part due to having Youngkin’s support but acknowledged that “big rallies don’t always turn into large votes.”
While stumping for Republican candidates in and outside Virginia, Youngkin repeatedly told the crowd that the red movement that propelled his gubernatorial win was “happening again” and attributed Virginia as the “headwaters.” On Election Day, Youngkin released a video called “This is the moment,” anticipating a red wave across the nation.
Sun, 11/13/2022 – 12:00