“Big Republican turnout and the suburbs move back to where they were pre-Trump,” said Jared Leopold, a former Democratic Governors Association spokesman. “I think the education piece was a big part of it. Youngkin had a message about education that was framed in a positive way for parents.”
In Virginia, a state that has become reliably blue in recent years, Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe, according to an Associated Press projection; in New Jersey, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy was struggling for his second term — results that suggested the scope of Democratic difficulty was national. There were also repudiations of liberal efforts in varied races, including in Minneapolis, where voters spurned an attempt to replace the police department with a comprehensive safety agency.
The circumstances in the two governor’s races all but confirmed the collapse of the coalition that propelled Democrats to power during the Donald Trump administration and Joe Biden to the presidency in 2020. In the election’s wake, there were fresh doubts in the party about Biden’s ability to push his domestic agenda across the finish line, and to repel the new attacks Republicans have opened on culture fronts, especially over schools. A new round of upheaval over the party’s priorities and strategies appeared imminent.
An estimated 3.3 million people turned out to vote in Virginia, easily outpacing the last two gubernatorial elections. In the eyes of Democrats, that reflected alarmingly high enthusiasm in conservative strongholds and a disturbing shift in the kinds of suburban areas that powered their gains in 2018 and 2020.
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