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Political analysts in the Valley talk about what Youngkin’s win means for Virginia

Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 5:50 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Republican Glenn Youngkin has been named Virginia’s next governor.

After a tight race, the newcomer declared his victory early Wednesdday morning, getting 51 percent of the vote over Terry McAuliffe with 49 percent.

Youngkin’s win rolls back progressive gains in the state as he becomes the first Republican to win the statewide office since 2009.

His challenger, former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, fell close behind in votes.

In a statement released this morning by McAuliffe, the former governor congratulated Youngkin.

He went on to say, in part “serving as Virginia’s 72nd Governor was the highest honor of my life, and I will never stop fighting to make our Commonwealth stronger and brighter for all.”

Virginia has a historical pattern of voting for governors who are from the opposite party from the White House. So, political analysts told WHSV that the results of this race are not very surprising.

“In 2020, there was 75-percent turnout. This time, turnout is about 48 to 49 percent It’s a completely different electorate. And when you have a completely different electorate, you can get completely different results,” Bob Roberts, political analyst and JMU professor, said.

The profile of this race was 73 percent white voters, and not many in the younger population showed up at the polls.

“In the western part of the state and the central part of the state, Youngkin got 81 to 83 percent of the vote in all those jurisdictions. That’s horrible for the Democrats,” Roberts said.

Experts say there wasn’t anything specific that helped Republican Glenn Youngkin’s campaign, as he ran on typical conservative values.

“Youngkin’s campaign did not really take off until they really began to focus directly on race, religion and anti-government,” David McQuilkin, retired Bridgewater professor said.

But Youngkin was able to energize voters to get them to the polls.

“The democrats on the other hand, lacked the cohesiveness that the conservative element of the republican party has demonstrated very clearly time and time and time again,” McQuilkin said.

He adds that with a sweeping red ticket, he’s concerned for Virginia.

“I think we’re going to look to the models of Florida, to some degree Texas, and some of the other states and we’re going to see the diminishment of the social network,” McQuilkin said.

He says he’s also worried election laws may change, making it harder for people to cast their vote.

But Roberts says even with Republicans taking control of the House of Delegates, Youngkin won’t be able to do much without control of the Senate.

“One-term governors in Virginia are not in a very good position to mandate anything, particularly when they don’t control both chambers of the General Assembly,” Roberts said.

One of the things on Youngkin’s agenda is local control of education.

“He can’t do it, unless he amends the state constitution, and to amend the state constitution, it requires a law to be sent to the voters two years in a row. It’s never going to get out of the Senate,” Roberts said.

He explains that the state constitution does not permit local control of schools. It delegates to the state board of education the responsibility of setting the curriculum for schools.

“The state board of education members serve four-year terms, and therefore, the governor cannot replace all members of the state board of education,” Roberts said.

He says it will be an interesting month to see how Youngkin will try to get control of the Senate.

“If he can pick off a democratic senator to retire and take a position in the administration, then there’s a special election in December and that could tie up the senate and Lt. Governor would break the tie, so he has to do something because he has this agenda,” Roberts said recalling how Jim Gilmore did the same thing in his term.

One thing Youngkin can do, according to Roberts, is decide not to sign the upcoming two-year budget. If he does not sign it come July 1, everything will shut down.

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