Virginia Is A Mini US

Explainer

Virginia’s 2021 governor’s race may paint a picture for the 2022 midterm elections

By Annie Andersen (Political Editor), Emma Stoltzfus (Video Editor)

Virginia’s state office elections will unfold this November, and many expect those results to forecast the 2022 federal midterm elections. Despite being a small commonwealth of just about eight and a half million people, Virginia looks very similar to America as a whole. 

”Virginia looks a lot like America compared to many states,” said Dr. Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington. “Virginia looks much more like America than West Virginia or Maryland in my view.”

Virginia is 430 miles wide, and across that distance, politics vary drastically.

“The northeast, the more liberal part of the state is not unlike the northeastern United States. We have an agricultural heartland. We have kind of a suncoast in the Virginia beach area. There is an industrial district around Richmond that is not unlike the industrial part of the midwest,” Farnsworth explained. 

Virginia has big cities, suburbs of all sizes, medium cities, small cities, college towns and rural areas–just like the United States. And the differences don’t stop with geography.

”Unlike many states, a lot of people from Virginia, most people who live here now came from somewhere else. Because of the large number of government workers, including the military bases here in Virginia, we really do have people from all over the country in Virginia,” Farnsworth added. 

This is also evident during election cycles, when candidates run different ads in different regions. To get rural voters, candidates focus on small town issues and conservative ideals.

In the suburbs of Washington, D.C., where Democrats tend to be more progressive and Republicans less conservative, the ads change.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin is airing a commercial touting the benefits of a coronavirus vaccine. Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe is running an ad connecting Youngkin to former President Donald Trump. 

Farnsworth says while not running, Trump could still play a big part in this election.

President Trump was very helpful to Democrats in Virginia because it gave them something very powerful to run against. There were a lot of people really motivated who turned out for the Democrats in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 in Virginia,” explained Farnsworth. 

He added, “When Trump is no longer president, it seems like the Democratic enthusiasm isn’t what it once was, and so I think one of the big challenges that McAuliffe faces in this election cycle is sort of how to rekindle that energy, that excitement that helped propel Democratic candidates to victory in statewide elections.

Suburbs are also expected to play a big part in Virginia’s 2021 election.

”One thing that Virginia does have is a much higher percentage of people living in the suburbs than many states. Many people have middle class, live in middle class communities with middle class jobs or upper middle class communities with upper middle class jobs because of the federal presence here,” Farnsworth said.

However Farnsworth hesitates to say that Virginia’s election will entirely forecast what happens in the 2022 midterm elections.

”It’s really hard to say that what happens in 2021 has a huge impact on 2022. Even now we’re looking at an election that’s more than a month away and who can tell what the key issues will be,” Farnsworth warned. 

He also added that the socioeconomic status of Virginians make the commonwealth unique.

”There is sort of a threshold, an economic impact that really does push Virginia into a, kind of a richer state than certainly other states in the south, but also in terms of the national average. And because more votes are being cast in the suburbs, I think that’s one of the reasons that Virginia might be a little bit different at the margins than some of the other states,” he explained. 

Despite these warnings, off year elections in battle ground states are one of the first ways to get a very basic look at how Americans might be feeling heading into 2022.

We all know the its slogan :  Virginia is for lovers.

So who does Virginia love more: Democrats or Republicans?

That is the question.

Let me explain!

Virginia has its state office elections this November.

How Virginia votes in 20-21may be how the entire country goes in the 22 midterms.  

Even though Virginia is a small commonwealth of just about 8 and a half million people,

It’s a microcosm of the entire nation.   

Dr. Stephen Farnsworth: <<”Virginia looks a lot like America compared to many states.”>>

Annie Andersen: Dr. Stephen Farnsworth from the University of Mary Washington says Virgina is like 4 regions in one.

Dr. Farnsworth <<“The northeast, the more liberal part of the state is not unlike the northeastern United States. We have an agricultural heartland. We have kind of a suncoast in the Virginia beach area. There is an industrial district around Richmond that is not unlike the industrial part of the midwest.”>>

Annie Andersen: In other words, Virginia has big cities, suburbs of all sizes, medium cities, small cities, college towns and rural areas… just like the United states.

And a wide variety of people too.

Dr. Farnsworth: <<”Unlike many states, a lot of people from Virginia, most people who live here now came from somewhere else. Because of the large number of government workers, including the military bases here in Virginia, we really do have people from all over the country in Virginia.”>>

Annie Andersen: To help understand the state’s uniqueness,

Take a look at these gubernatorial campaign ads.

To get rural voters .. Candidates focus on small town issues and conservative ideals.

Voice Over:<<“A lot of politicians don’t think about towns like ours. People leaving, businesses closing. But Terry McAuliffe is different. When he was Governor, Terry focused on bringing good paying jobs everywhere, to places like Danville and across Virginia.”>> 

Voice Over: <<”What is Terry McAuliffe’s plan? Refusing to meet with police officers. Touting endorsement from extreme left-wing groups that want to defund the police.”>>

Annie Andersen: Compare those to the ads running in the DC suburbs in Northern Virginia. – which lean left.

Glenn Youngkin: ” it’s your right to make your own choice and i respect that i do hope you’ll choose to join me in getting the vaccine

we can protect lives and livelihoods here in virginia.”>>

Terry McAuliffe/ Glenn Youngkin<<”Let me be clear, Glenn Youngkin is not a reasonable Republican. He is a loyalist to Donald Trump.’President Trump represents so much of why I’m running.”>>

Annie Andersen:Now enter the Trump factor.

Part of Virgina loves him. While the other part loathes him.

A similar dynamic that exists across the country. 

Dr. Farnsworth<<”President Trump was very helpful to Democrats in Virginia because it gave them something very powerful to run against. (3:42) There were a lot of people really motivated who turned out for the Democrats in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 in Virginia. (3:50) When Trump is no longer president, it seems like the Democratic enthusiasm isn’t what it once was,  ”>.

Annie Andersen: The sweet spot in Virgina…. Like the rest of the US…  Suburbanites, 

nestled between the city-and-country.  

Dr. Farnsworth: <<”one thing that Virginia does have is a much higher percentage of people living in the suburbs than many states. Many people have middle class, live in middle class communities with middle class jobs or upper middle class communities with upper middle class jobs because of the federal presence here.”

Annie Andersen: Sum it all up — and you can see why VA  is a mini-version of the US.

A wide variety of regions,Diverse people,The Trump factor,And The Suburban Sweet Spot.

Did we tell this story fairly and factually?

Let me know by using the bias meter?

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Virginia’s state office elections will unfold this November, and many expect those results to forecast the 2022 federal midterm elections. Despite being a small commonwealth of just about eight and a half million people, Virginia looks very similar to America as a whole. 

”Virginia looks a lot like America compared to many states,” said Dr. Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington. “Virginia looks much more like America than West Virginia or Maryland in my view.”

Virginia is 430 miles wide, and across that distance, politics vary drastically.

“The northeast, the more liberal part of the state is not unlike the northeastern United States. We have an agricultural heartland. We have kind of a suncoast in the Virginia beach area. There is an industrial district around Richmond that is not unlike the industrial part of the midwest,” Farnsworth explained. 

Virginia has big cities, suburbs of all sizes, medium cities, small cities, college towns and rural areas–just like the United States. And the differences don’t stop with geography.

”Unlike many states, a lot of people from Virginia, most people who live here now came from somewhere else. Because of the large number of government workers, including the military bases here in Virginia, we really do have people from all over the country in Virginia,” Farnsworth added. 

This is also evident during election cycles, when candidates run different ads in different regions. To get rural voters, candidates focus on small town issues and conservative ideals.

In the suburbs of Washington, D.C., where Democrats tend to be more progressive and Republicans less conservative, the ads change.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin is airing a commercial touting the benefits of a coronavirus vaccine. Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe is running an ad connecting Youngkin to former President Donald Trump. 

Farnsworth says while not running, Trump could still play a big part in this election.

President Trump was very helpful to Democrats in Virginia because it gave them something very powerful to run against. There were a lot of people really motivated who turned out for the Democrats in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 in Virginia,” explained Farnsworth. 

He added, “When Trump is no longer president, it seems like the Democratic enthusiasm isn’t what it once was, and so I think one of the big challenges that McAuliffe faces in this election cycle is sort of how to rekindle that energy, that excitement that helped propel Democratic candidates to victory in statewide elections.

Suburbs are also expected to play a big part in Virginia’s 2021 election.

”One thing that Virginia does have is a much higher percentage of people living in the suburbs than many states. Many people have middle class, live in middle class communities with middle class jobs or upper middle class communities with upper middle class jobs because of the federal presence here,” Farnsworth said.

However Farnsworth hesitates to say that Virginia’s election will entirely forecast what happens in the 2022 midterm elections.

”It’s really hard to say that what happens in 2021 has a huge impact on 2022. Even now we’re looking at an election that’s more than a month away and who can tell what the key issues will be,” Farnsworth warned. 

He also added that the socioeconomic status of Virginians make the commonwealth unique.

”There is sort of a threshold, an economic impact that really does push Virginia into a, kind of a richer state than certainly other states in the south, but also in terms of the national average. And because more votes are being cast in the suburbs, I think that’s one of the reasons that Virginia might be a little bit different at the margins than some of the other states,” he explained. 

Despite these warnings, off year elections in battle ground states are one of the first ways to get a very basic look at how Americans might be feeling heading into 2022.

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