Elections Show Conservatives, Not Leftists, Winning on Cultural Issues

The morning of Nov. 3, President Joe Biden returned to a nation that does not support him or his party.

Virginia, where he carried 55% of the vote to 44% in 2020 has elected Republican Glenn Youngkin governor, Republicans as lieutenant governor, and attorney general. They also regained a majority in House of Delegates.

Even more surprising is the fact that in New Jersey, where Biden was elected governor 57% to 41% of the vote, Democratic Gov. With a few more votes to go, Phil Murphy currently leads Republican Jack Ciattarelli by approximately 29,000 votes. New Jersey, as part of the New York and Philadelphia media markets, has long been a low-information state politically, and Murphy seems headed to the 50.5% he’s been averaging in polls, with the rest all going to his little-known ex-legislator challenger.

Some Democrats did win. Eric Adams was elected New York City Mayor easily (76% Biden), and Democrats won a Maine state House district (population 8.333).

But that’s about all the good news for the party that one year ago won the Electoral College by 42,000 popular votes and congressional majorities of 51-50 and 222-213. Geographically, Republican wins ranged between a Supreme Court Seat in marginal Pennsylvania to a Pickup in a 72% Hispanic Texas State House District (population 164.436) that is 72% Hispanic and a City Council seat in immigrant heavy Brooklyn and Queens.

The Democrats’ “progressive” wing fared especially poorly. Voters in Minneapolis (86% Biden), where George Floyd died in May 2020, rejected a ballot proposition to replace the police force with a “public safety” department by 56% to 44%. So much for defunding law enforcement. In Buffalo (80% Biden), India Walton, a socialist Democratic primary winner, was defeated by write-in votes to elect the incumbent mayor she had defeated for her nomination. So much for socialism.

The results in Virginia and elsewhere are, as Cook Political’s David Wasserman tweeted at 9:34 p.m. Eastern, “consistent w/ a political environment in which Republicans would comfortably take back both the House and the Senate in 2022.” In an environment where Donald Trump is no longer the central figure, despite Terry McAuliffe’s constant mentions of him, Youngkin managed to improve on Trump’s numbers with noncollege-graduate white voters while making substantial inroads in affluent suburbs.

Republican victories came despiteIt’s because ofTwo trends are supposedly fatal. One is that turnout in Virginia was 27% higher than the previous governor race, and New Jersey was at least 11%. Exurban areas, which are home to many young families, saw a 30%-40% increase in turnout. However, the percentage was lower in central cities where there were many minorities or hip singles.

The other trend is the fact that the Virginia race was fought about cultural issues. Youngkin seized on McAuliffe’s Sept. 29 debate statement, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” That’s holy writ among teachers union members and school administrators, who believe they have special expertise in enlightening the children of backward parents.

However, 84% of Virginians favored having some or a lot more control over what schools teach. Only 13% agreed. And after teachers unions shut down schools for months (a full year in Fairfax County, the nation’s 11th largest school district), parents have gotten a better view of the sexually explicit materials that supposed experts have put in the hands of even grade schoolers.

Similarly, Youngkin was not afraid to criticize public schools’ use of materials championing critical race theoryThe notion that whites are irremediably racist. He said that children should learn about the good and bad aspects of our history and judge others based on their character, not their skin color.

This resulted in racism charges being levelled. Barack Obama, campaigning for McAuliffe, insisted, “We don’t have time to be wasting on these phony, trumped-up culture wars.” Youngkin, he said, was avoiding “serious problems that actually affect serious people.”

But for parents, the education of their children is a serious matter, not a “phony, trumped-up” issue. Americans view cultural issues as more important than economics, regardless of their cultural differences. Biden Democrats argue that their economic policies would help the poor, but an ABC/Ipsos poll revealed that only 25% believe his reconciliation bill will benefit people like them, while 32% think it would hurt.

Nearly half (43%) of respondents don’t see much difference. Similar skepticism explained polls showing majorities against Obamacare’s passage in 2010 and against its repeal in 2018. However, attitudes regarding cultural issues are more grounded in personal experience and moral principles.

Liberals and progressives can be vulnerable on cultural issues. While their search for the next underdog cause to support is sometimes successful, it sometimes leaves them in permanent opposition to large numbers of voters. That’s what happened in Virginia. The advice of Democrats’ MSNBC and CNN cheering squadsTo double down on racism accusations against votersIt is not helpful.

So, for the moment at least … the nation Biden returned to in the wee hours of the morning on Nov. 3 no longer supports him or his party.

The Daily Signal is open to all perspectives. This article is not meant to represent the views of The Heritage Foundation.

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