By Milo Mandelli-Valla
New York City, New York
The 2021 elections, though not as significant as presidential years or the midterms, still offer a bellwether of what is to come in future years, as well as covering a wide range of races, from the NYC mayoral race to the Virginia governor’s race.
One of the races which were seen as heavily in favor of the Democratic candidate was the NYC Mayoral race. Former police chief Eric Adams (D-NY) faced off against Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa (R-NY). Adams won the election in a landslide victory, one which was predicted by polling in a city that historically votes liberally, and continued to follow that trend in this election cycle. Another city wide race included Alvin Bragg’s (D-NY) election to be the next District Attorney of New York, along with many city council positions.
Another race in the northeast that turned out to be quite competitive was the New Jersey governor’s race between Jack Ciatarelli (R-NJ) and incumbent Phil Murphy (D-NJ). Murphy was heavily ahead in polling for quite some time, though the polls got significantly tighter during the final week of the race building up to Election Day.
On Election Day, Ciatarelli pulled ahead in the early stages, however this was a narrow and fragile lead. Ultimately, Phil Murphy came back to win the race, however just by a couple of percentage points. This is a significant shift from the 2020 presidential election, which saw Joe Biden (D-DE) carry the state by a margin of 18 percent, a 16 point shift over the course of just one year.
Meanwhile, in the Virginia gubernatorial race, former governor Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) took on Carlyle executive Glen Youngkin (R-VA). McAuliffe and Youngkin were neck and neck throughout most of the race, with polling swinging back and forth between the two. Youngkin ended up winning the race by a couple of percentage points as well, in yet another narrow and competitive race in a state which went to Joe Biden by 10 points.
The race in Virginia is seen as significant as the demographics that shifted their voting trends were suburban voters, particularly women. This is critical as Donald Trump struggled to win states in 2020 as he lost the suburbs, an area he won in 2016. The Republican model used in Virginia could be one used on a national scale, as Republicans were able to get optimal turnout.
The Trump base in rural areas voted because former President Trump continues to influence that voting block. Youngkin distanced himself from Trump enabling him to appeal to suburban women who did not support Trump. Youngkin did this by focusing on issues that face Virginians but also face Americans as a whole. He ran on low taxes, something many Americans support, as well as preventing the education system from teaching children concepts such as critical race theory.
Another reason for the outcomes of the Virginia race as well as the race in New Jersey could be the struggling Biden administration, as Biden faces an incredibly low approval rating. Biden sits at an approval rating in the low 40s and has faced issues such as the Afghanistan withdrawal, the supply chain crisis, and the inflation tax on Americans, despite passing the infrastructure bill. These issues are costing democrats elections. These issues could very well cost the Democrats even greater losses going forward unless they significantly change their strategy.