Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:
Why should all eyes be on the Virginia suburbs?
I'm here in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Arlington, Virginia, where the state will be having a gubernatorial election on November 2nd. The Virginia governor election is held in the year after the US presidential election typically, and is generally seen as a bellwether for how popular the incumbent president of the United States is. In 2009, the Republican candidate won by a commanding 16 points despite the fact that Virginia has been trending more and more Democratic in recent years due to the population growth here in the suburbs, which tend to be more blue than rural areas of the state.
The race is close, which is a little bit surprising because last year, Virginia went [Democratic] by for 10 points. So the competitiveness of the Republican candidate is being seen as a sign of weakness of Joe Biden, potentially correlated with his slide in approval ratings and also an indication that maybe some of the strength of a Democratic Party is related to backlash against Donald Trump who's not on the ballot this time around.
The Democrats are running a former governor and an insider's insider, who was the former head of the Democratic National Committee. The Republicans are running a private equity executive who looks a lot like a reborn version of Mitt Romney, the former presidential candidate for the Republicans, which is surprising in a party that's been trending more and more in Donald Trump's favor.A win or a narrow loss for the Republican would be seen would affirm a narrative of backlash against Joe Biden and his policies, would affirm that his low approval rating could potentially be a weight on Democrats in next year's midterm elections and show that voters are getting frustrated both by COVID, high energy prices, and potentially school board issues, issues of education, which has been a major issue in this election. If the Democrat wins comfortably, then all that narrative will be largely deflated. Democrats can prove that they can continue to win in Democratic areas by running against Donald Trump, and it will help Joe Biden going into the midterm elections.
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