Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, discusses the results of the US election on November 2.
What was the warning to Democrats in this week's governor's races?
Yesterday's elections in Virginia and New Jersey were a really bad sign for Democrats. Biden won both those states by 10 points and 16 points respectively just last year. In Virginia, the Republicans are going to win not only the governorship, but the top three spots in state government and take one of the houses of the legislature. And New Jersey, the Republican was way behind in the polls, but came within a hair's breadth of actually winning it.
Republicans had a great day across the board, with gains in the suburbs and gains across both states, but particularly gain with white women, which probably reflects, at least in the case of New Jersey, the fact that education was such a big focus, but also probably reflects a no Donald Trump effect. Without Donald Trump at the top of the ticket, a lot of the conservative-leaning suburbanite independents that fled the Republican Party in 2018 and 2020 came back into the fold.
Why is this bad for Democrats? Because even though Biden ran as a moderate with a very progressive platform, the progressives in the party have really been driving the legislative train and the agenda in the Biden administration. So now the Democrats have a problem. Even though most of their party is comfortable with a more left-wing agenda, their conservative block is sure to grow as several members become very worried about losing their seats in the 2022 midterms. This means trimming back President Biden's ambitious social spending agenda, but also creating more urgency to pass it. Republicans, feeling pretty good about the midterms right now, probably have better than even chances of taking that, certainly the House and probably the Senate.