What do Virginia’s election results mean for Nevada?
Could Nevada voters in 2022 follow Virginia’s lead on Tuesday, electing Republicans in statewide races next year even as both states had a blue trend?
The answer could be more nuanced than most of Wednesday’s quick scans suggest.
Supporters and pundits see Republican Glenn Youngkin’s victory over former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday in the Virginia gubernatorial race as a groundswell that portends similar results in the political landscape until next year . Youngkin’s victory anchored a GOP sweep in his state; Elsewhere, Democrats on Long Island, a suburb of New York City, suffered similar losses, and in New Jersey incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday scored only a slim victory over a surprisingly strong Republican challenger in a race that no one thought was this close.
Without wasting any time, candidates and political observers set out on Wednesday to reassess and refine their strategies and recalibrate the odds and expectations in Nevada’s top two races next year, as incumbent Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak and US Senator Catherine Cortez Masto are seeking re-election.
Among them, analysts at the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia on Wednesday amended the scores in four key Senate races in 2022 – including that of Masto – changing him from “Democratic inclination” to “reject” and calling them Tuesday’s election of “horrible result on the part of the Democrats”. “
Masto’s likely Republican challenger Adam Laxalt used the rating change to claim some momentum amid signs that “the people of this country are hungry for change and Nevada is ready to deliver in 2022”.
‘Telephone alarm clock’
On Wednesday, the Sisolak campaign sent out an early morning call for contributions, calling Youngkin’s victory a “wake-up call” for Democrats and reminding that former President Donald Trump “still has strongholds in battlefield states across the country. the country”.
Former US Senator Dean Heller, one of a half-dozen Republicans seeking nomination to challenge Sisolak, saw a different kind of barometer, tar Sisolak with McAuliffe and President Joe Biden for supporting “priorities of the far left of today’s Democrats ”.
Another Republican strategist noted that where Biden won Virginia by 10 points in 2020, he won Nevada by less than three, making a seemingly more within reach here next year.
There is much to suggest how Nevada might follow Virginia’s path in 2022. But there is just as much or more to suggest otherwise. Here’s a look at what’s similar, what’s different, and what remains to be seen.
What is the same thing?
The big picture, for one. National political winds are blowing in the same direction across the country. The question is, in which direction the winds will blow in a year.
The Washington Post’s Virginia exit poll on Tuesday showed Youngkin’s victory over McAuliffe thanks to the state’s independent voters, Biden’s low approval ratings, and voter concerns about the economy and education. A uniform shift to the right across all counties in the state, poll watchers said, underscored voters’ general frustration with Democrats and the slow economic recovery more than the impact of key talking points of the state. Youngkin, who understood the exploitation of partisan fear on questionable issues such as teaching critical race theory in schools.
The current American electorate is precipitously divided and notoriously fickle. In July, before COVID-19-related illnesses and deaths start to rise again and Democrats in Washington engage in internal feuds over potentially era-defining policy changes, Biden and Sisolak have Shared equally positive approval ratings which were both in the 50s.
Now, in less than four months, Biden’s approval has plunged into negative territory, the lowest of all presidents except Trump at this point in his presidency dating back to the Dwight Eisenhower administration. There is no recent equivalent poll on Sisolak’s rating, but it’s not unreasonable to assume that it could have been affected in the same way, as Democrats package inflation, the infection and an apparent inability to implement their priorities.
Nevada Democrats hold a trio of government – the governor’s office and both houses of the Legislature – and five of six statewide offices (including one currently vacant but subject to nomination. Sisolak). Disgruntled voters blame the ruling party, so political and economic uncertainty in Nevada and nationwide could land directly on Democrats if it persists through 2022.
Where will Americans – and Nevadans – be next year in terms of jobs, the economy, education and the pandemic? What will the prevailing political mood be if Democrats adopt or fail to adopt their social policies and infrastructure plans? Predictions, especially on the economy, can be a wild ride. In Nevada, recent data suggests a strong if not uniform economic recovery from the darkest days of last year’s pandemic, but unemployment, although half of what it was in 2020, is still double that of its pre-pandemic levels.
Yet the same pollster who measured Sisolak’s favorable rating in July found 6 of 10 Nevadans satisfied with the state’s leadership a month later. Much of what happens in Nevada next year will depend on what happens next.
Tactical, portable strategy
A uniform and uniform electoral strategy is also emerging. In Youngkin’s candidacy, Republicans seem to have found a winning formula for harnessing Trump’s dynamite without blowing themselves up with it. After winning the unusual Republican convention in Virginia in May, Youngkin in the general election largely kept the Trump genius in its bottle, only releasing it when needed and then in diluted form. The so-called “Trump Lite” strategy has been seen as successful in countering the flight of suburban voters, especially women, to Biden in 2020 in Virginia and elsewhere.
Republican hopefuls in Nevada take a similar approach, embracing themes that resonate with party supporters, such as electoral integrity, but avoiding Trumpian histrionics.
The Democratic strategy of flogging Republicans at Trump every round also played out in Nevada, although Democrats may re-evaluate the tactic given how little it seemed to have helped McAuliffe. Running against Trump, or really Trumpism, was not enough for him to convince voters in Virginia.
What is completely different
Youngkin was a first-time candidate, a political underdog, whose freshness and business experience as a former co-director of a large private equity firm won over the wealthiest professionals in the northern suburbs. from Virginia. Nevada’s Republicans don’t yet have a match in the gubernatorial race – it depends on who wins next June’s primary.
McAuliffe, a Democratic fundraiser who served as governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018, was an insider with somewhat muddled campaign backgrounds and messages. Sisolak is an incumbent whose overall management of the pandemic has won more praise than condemnation.
With a net worth of $ 480 million, Youngkin was also wealthy, loaning his campaign $ 20 million and spending slightly more than McAuliffe overall, data showed through the end of October. No candidate in Nevada shows that kind of money.
Virginia’s demographics are also not very similar to Nevada’s. The overall population distribution, as well as the urban-rural and partisan divisions, differ in the two states. Virginia does not track party affiliation among registered voters, but exit polls Tuesday showed a 50-50 split in voter turnout between Democrats and Republicans. Nevada’s registration figures are 34% Democrats to 30% Republicans, with 27% non-partisan voters.
In the latest census data, Nevada ranked third among the most diverse states, with a white population that grew from two-thirds to about half of the state’s total between 2010 and 2020. Virginia was 14th. the most diverse country with a population of 60% white, against 69% ten years ago.
Finally, in the race for governor of Nevada, the Republicans will choose their candidate in a closed primary. In this match-up, candidates typically address their message to the party’s most active loyalists and supporters, then returning to the middle if they win. Youngkin was chosen in an election ranked “unassembled” via party convention, winning the sixth round.
The different methods, involving different constituencies, can produce equally different results – a candidate with Youngkin’s background might not have done well in a traditional primary. To win the nomination for governor, the Republicans of Nevada are now trying to outflank on the right. Where the winner of this contest will go next depends on factors neither party can now predict or control.
Besides the tenure, Sisolak has an additional advantage: no main opponent. He can use the months through June to raise funds and immediately launch a barrage of attack announcements once the GOP primary is over, before the bruised winner has time to regroup and respond.
Contact Capital Bureau reporter Bill Dentzer at email@example.com. To follow @DentzerNews on Twitter.