Race to control Virginia’s state house may prove a bellwether for 2022

Though the governor’s race in Virginia has received the lion’s share of media attention in recent weeks for its potential as a national bellwether, as Breitbart reports, the possibility of a GOP recapture of the House of Delgates in the Commonwealth has also emerged as an important story in this year’s election cycle that could have a similar impact.

It was just two years ago that the entire state of Virginia turned blue, with Democrats taking complete control of the government in Richmond, and that development was viewed by many as a pivotal, perhaps long-term shift in the political makeup of its electorate that would have ongoing national implications.

However, as President Joe Biden’s approval ratings have continued their precipitous decline, and Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s bid for the governor’s mansion encountered an unexpected roadblock in the candidacy of Republican Glenn Youngkin, political observers have increasingly viewed control the lower chamber as newly up for grabs.

Democrat State House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn indicated to Politico recently that while she is confident that her party’s “majority is safe,” she is also “making sure everyone knows all we’ve accomplished, why it matters who governs, why it’s important to make sure that we maintain if not grow our majority.”

Despite that air of assurance, the GOP in Virginia has gone to great lengths to paint Democrats in the state as part and parcel of the far-left policies of the increasingly unpopular Biden administration and of his party’s leaders in Congress.

As Politico noted, this approach included a high-dollar ad campaign from the Republican State Leadership Committee in late summer, which took Democrats to task over rising crime rates, inflation, and, perhaps most critically in this particular cycle, what they described as the “politicization of public education.”

The outlet further pointed out that the Democrats hold a mere five-seat advantage over the GOP in the lower chamber going into the election, with some of the most closely contested races set to take place in the Newport News, Virginia Beach, and Norfolk areas, as well as in a few pockets of Northern Virginia.

As former Democrat Gov. Douglas Wilder noted, according to Breitbart, McAuliffe himself may bear some of the blame if things do not go well for his party in the aforementioned areas on Election Day, suggesting that there is a perception among Black voters in those regions that their vote has been taken for granted, and they may have little motivation to go to the polls this time around.

With reports of a substantial enthusiasm gap in Republicans’ favor well-documented in the Commonwealth over the past several weeks, the prospects for Democrats have been nowhere near as rosy as expected, but whether that ultimately translates to a change in control at the House of Delegates or is a harbinger of things to come for the party as a whole, only time will tell.