On November 2, voters all across the Commonwealth headed to the polls to decide who they wanted Virginia’s next governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general to be. They also voted on a number of House of Delegates races. The results were a clean sweep for the Republican Party. In the governor’s race, Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat, and former Governor Terry McAuliffe by a margin of about two points, with Youngkin getting 50.6% to McAuliffe’s 48.7% of the vote.
In the lieutenant governor’s race, Republican Winsome Sears defeated Democrat Hala Ayala by just over a point, with Sears getting 50.8% of the vote and Ayala getting 49.2% of the vote. In the attorney general’s race, Republican Jason Miyares defeated incumbent Attorney General Mark Herring by just under a point, with Miyares getting 50.4% and Herring getting 49.6% of the vote. It was the first time since 2009 that Republicans won a state-wide race in Virginia.
Gillian Coleman, president of the Longwood College Republicans, gave her reaction to the election results. “I was so incredibly happy. I went to sleep assuming that it did happen and woke up and was like oh my god this is crazy, we flipped Virginia.” Coleman added that her organization campaigned for Youngkin, Sears, and Miyares, as well as House of Delegates Candidate, Roxanne Robinson by going door to door and handing out pamphlets to drum up support in the Richmond area. She also said that they attended a Youngkin rally in Charlotte County.
Coleman talked about what she thinks are the biggest factors that played into Youngkin’s win. “I think his emphasis on parent’s choice in education was a big factor. I think his focus on parents really got parents out to the polls so they could fight to have a say in their children’s education. The diversity that he had amongst his ticket was also a factor. Also, him constantly pushing Virginians to want to be better. He’s also just a great guy, he’s very personable.”
Coleman added what she thought the outcome of this election says about the state of Virginia and the nation as a whole. “I think it shows that we’ve been pushed to a point where we’re done just letting things take their course and accepting the way things are and we want change and that we want to try to be better and want better for our country.”
Another student who shared his input on the election results was Jacob Farmer-Rylands, vice president of the College Democrats of Longwood University. Farmer-Rylands said, “I’m disappointed, but I wasn’t surprised. I think especially in recent years, Democrats have had a hard time connecting with working-class voters and they cater to college-educated voters. I’ve seen over the last couple of elections that there is also not the same connection with rural voters that Republicans have.”
Farmer-Rylands talked about the efforts that his organization made to impact the election results. “We canvased in Charlottesville and Farmville and reached nearly a thousand perspective voters. We hosted a town hall with Senator Jennifer McClellan.”
Farmer-Rylands also discussed what he thought McAuliffe could’ve done better in order to win. “I think that the message that ended up coming across with parental rights was fumbled towards the end of the election season. I think it was more his camp than Ayala’s. I think her message came across well. One thing that impressed me about the Youngkin campaign was that bus tour and I think it helped him bring out voters in rural communities. I feel like if the McAuliffe campaign had focused more on rural voters, he would’ve fared much better.”
Farmer-Rylands added that he thinks these election results show that people are tired of the same politicians being in office. He said that there were other candidates in the Democratic Primaries that had great potential, such as Jennifer Carrol Foy, who he felt like would have had a better chance of winning. He also brought up the long-standing trend of the party that won the presidential election the year prior not faring well in Virginia gubernatorial elections.
Youngkin, Sears, and Miyares will be sworn in on January 15, 2022 on the steps of the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond and it will be open to the public.