Virginia 2021: What Happened
Last night’s results in Virginia were certainly not what Democrats wanted. Republicans swept the three statewide offices, and Democrats will not keep their outright majority in the state house. The several uncalled races will determine whether Democrats can hold the chamber to 50-50 or whether they will be in the minority.
So, what happened?
The 12-point swing happened.
- Governor’s Race: In 2020, Biden won the state by 10.1%. Right now, McAuliffe is on track to lose by 2.13%, adding to a 12.23% swing in favor of Republicans.
- State House Races: Among 88 contested delegate races,* the average swing from Biden’s performance in the district in 2020 to the 2021 delegate result was -11.97%. In a future post, we will dive into the variations within that average and what that tells us about district-specific strategies.
- Biden Performance Predictor: Whether or not Democrats won the district is strongly predicted by Biden’s 2020 performance in the district. In 2020, Biden won 60 of the 100 State House districts. In the 49 districts Biden won by more than 12 points, Democrats only lost one seat. Among the 11 districts Biden won by less than 12 points, Democrats lost 3 seats, 3 incumbent Democratic seats remain too close to call, and the GOP held the rest.
The below table shows those results for competitive districts.
|District||Incumbent||2020 Result||2021 Result|
|HD 67||Delaney (D)||34.72%||WIN|
|HD 42||Tran (D)||32.58%||WIN|
|HD 13||Roem (D)||32.54%||WIN|
|HD 32||Reid (D)||30.82%||WIN|
|HD 50||Carter** (D)||26.09%||WIN|
|HD 40||Helmer (D)||24.85%||WIN|
|HD 2||King (D)||23.71%||WIN|
|HD 76||Jenkins (D)||22.68%||WIN|
|HD 94||Simonds (D)||21.30%||WIN|
|HD 73||Willett (D)||20.51%||WIN|
|HD 68||Adams (D)||19.40%||WIN|
|HD 10||Gooditis (D)||16.20%||WIN|
|HD 72||VanValkenburg (D)||15.91%||WIN|
|HD 93||Mullin (D)||15.73%||WIN|
|HD 83||Guy (D)||15.06%||LOSS|
|HD 31||Guzman (D)||14.72%||WIN|
|HD 51||Ayala** (D)||12.85%||WIN|
|HD 21||Fowler (D)||12.51%||WIN|
|HD 85||Askew (D)||11.93%||UNCALLED|
|HD 63||Aird (D)||10.86%||UNCALLED|
|HD 28||Cole (D)||10.52%||LOSS|
|HD 66||Cox** (R)||10.31%||GOP HOLD|
|HD 27||Robinson (R)||8.31%||GOP HOLD|
|HD 91||Mugler (D)||8.25%||UNCALLED|
|HD 75||Tyler (D)||7.31%||LOSS|
|HD 100||Bloxom (R)||6.74%||GOP HOLD|
|HD 12||Hurst (D)||5.58%||LOSS|
So, what does this mean for 2022?
Of course, that is the question on everyone’s mind, and of course, it’s way too early to draw specific conclusions. There are two toplines that we want to leave you with for now.
1. The era of high turnout might not be over.
While Democrats did not win the Virginia governorship last night, McAuliffe actually got more votes than successful Democratic candidate Ralph Northam in 2017. The only problem in 2021 was that Republicans were also super motivated.
2. Voters are unhappy.
As we wrote about recently on our blog, Democrats need to decide if we want to win the 2022 midterms. Last night showed that typical midterm dynamics are starting to play out, where the incumbent president’s party typically sees losses in the first midterm.
Democrats need a real strategy for how we overcome those headwinds – last night showed we haven’t found it yet.
*This count excludes HDs 63 and 91.
**Denotes incumbent who did not run for re-election.