On Tuesday, Democrats who ran on platforms of upholding abortion rights dominated Virginia's legislative elections, giving them a majority in the state legislature for the first time in two years.
Governor Glenn Youngkin and the Republican Party lost badly in this election despite spending a lot of time, money, and political capital trying to win three seats in the legislature, as AP News reported.
“It’s official: there will be absolutely no abortion ban legislation sent to Glenn Youngkin’s desk for the duration of his term in office, period, as we have thwarted MAGA Republicans’ attempt to take total control of our government and our bodies,” Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Mamie Locke said in a statement referencing Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
Virginia was one of only four states to host legislative elections this year, and some believes it serves as a microcosm for other battleground states in the 2020 election.
As a result, the pricey, contentious parliamentary campaigns gained unprecedented attention as both parties watched the outcomes for clues about voter sentiment moving into the 2024 election.
If the Democrats win control of the state legislature, they will be in a better position to block Youngkin's legislative initiatives, though they will still need to cooperate with him to advance their own.
This year, all 100 seats in the Virginia General Assembly were up for election, with the most heated contests taking place in the Hampton Roads area and the suburbs of Richmond and Washington, D.C. Democrats gained control of the House of Delegates and kept the senate majority they've enjoyed since 2020.
In the lone Southern state without new limits on abortion since Roe v. Wade's overturn, candidates used the economy, the environment, public safety, and schools as talking points with voters this election cycle.
With President Joe Biden and other Democrats expected to use abortion as a rallying point for their voters in next year's election, the results in Virginia, along with the victory for abortion rights supporters on an Ohio ballot measure and the reelection of Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in Kentucky, will provide some solace to the national party.
“This is a huge sign of Democrats’ continued momentum heading into 2024. With so much on the line, voters showed up at the ballot box and sent the GOP a stark warning — betting big on the MAGA agenda doesn’t fly with everyday Americans, and it will cost them once again in 2024,” Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison said of Virginia’s results in a statement.
The Republican platform revolved around concerns such as tax reduction, parental engagement in education, the reversal of renewable energy mandates backed by the Democrats, and the enhancement of public safety.
In the fiercely contested swing districts, a significant number of Republican candidates coalesced in support of Youngkin's 15-week abortion prohibition, which made certain exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.
Youngkin, who predicted hours before the polls concluded that the Republicans would retain control of the House and reverse the Senate, was questioned regarding his approach to collaboration with the Democrats in the event that his party failed.
“I think there’s always a place for common sense, and we’ve been able to get things done” during the past two years of divided government, Youngkin said, before pivoting to a criticism of Democrats as lacking a vision for the future and being “the party of fear.”