The Hill: Virginia races offer an early preview of Democrats’ midterm challenges

WASHINGTON, D.C – The Hill on Monday published a detailed overview of Virginia’s elections for the House of Delegates this November and how they could offer a glimpse of what is to come in the 2022 midterms. As The Hill notes, there are seven Democrat incumbents who won their 2019 races by just five points or less, and they are on the defensive for their radical liberal agendas to politicize public education and weaken law enforcement.

Virginia races offer an early preview of Democrats’ midterm challenges
Reid Wilson
The Hill
September 6, 2021

Voters in Virginia will give Democrats and Republicans the first hints of the political landscape in advance of next year’s midterm elections when they head to the polls in eight weeks.

But the more revealing test will come in smaller, below-the-radar elections for seats in the House of Delegates. Democrats hold 55 of the 100 seats up for election in November, contests that can approximate what appears to be an uphill battle to maintain control of the House of Representatives in Washington one year from now.

But the Democratic margin for error is slim: Askew is one of seven Democrats who won his seat by fewer than 5 percentage points in 2019. Eight more Democrats won by between 5 and 10 points.

And Republicans are more than happy to talk about what Democrats achieved, through their own lens.

“If we go through with one party rule again for the next two years, what we saw in 2020, once they got both houses, is going to go much further,” said Otto Wachsmann (R), a pharmacist who is challenging Del. Roslyn Tyler (D) in a district that runs along the North Carolina border. “We just have to make a change.”

The two sides are targeting key races in the Northern Virginia suburbs and exurbs, the economic engine of a state that has shifted to the left in recent decades; in Hampton Roads, perpetual swing territory; and in the Richmond suburbs, a microcosm of a broader electorate that regularly switches its votes between parties.

Republicans have seized on an emerging debate over critical race theory in public schools, in a state where school board meetings in places like wealthy Loudoun County have drawn attention from Fox News. And some Republicans have accused their Democratic opponents of harboring ambitions to defund the police, after several votes on limiting qualified immunity taken in the wake of the protests over the murder of George Floyd last year in Minneapolis.

“A lot of people really like to support law enforcement, and it’s interesting that my opponent voted not once but twice to strip qualified immunity,” Wachsmann said. “When she voted to defund and strip away qualified immunity, most of the sheriffs called me up within 12 hours.”

But polls show a Republican path back to a majority is not far-fetched: Voters favor a generic Democratic candidate over a generic Republican by just a 48 percent to 45 percent margin, according to a Monmouth University poll released late last month (A Christopher Newport University poll pegged the Democratic edge at 7 points, 50 percent to 43 percent).

With Trump out of the picture and Democrats in charge of a turbulent world, both in Washington and Richmond, the party’s winning streak is suddenly on the line. And both Democrats and Republicans say they will be watching closely to glean any insight for the midterms to come.