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Deadlocked Dems and Republicans on a roll

Democrats were dreading this week's off-year US elections even before the votes were counted. History shows that US voters tend to punish the party of first-year presidents (see the Graphic Truth here.) Results from this week's governors' races in the states of Virginia and New Jersey have made matters worse, as the two parties look ahead to national elections next November.

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Republican 2021 election wins

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.

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Big Republican win, shock Dem loss in Virginia

GOP wins Virginia gubernatorial race. In a stunning upset, Republican Glenn Youngkin won Virginia's highly-anticipated governor's race. Youngkin beat Democrat former Gov. Terry McAuliffe by two points, a wider-than-expected margin. The result — in a purple state that President Joe Biden bagged by a comfortable 10 percent a year ago — is very bad news for Democrats ahead of the 2022 midterms. Biden didn't get the boost he was hoping for to turn the tide on his poor approval rating and his domestic political agenda, stalled by deep divisions within the party over two landmark infrastructure and social spending bills. What's more, McAuliffe underperformed with suburban voters and independents — crucial to Biden's 2020 victory and whom Democrats must woo to keep control of Congress a year from now. Republicans now gain momentum because winning back suburbanites and independents who hate Donald Trump improves their (already good) odds for the midterms. More broadly, the outcome in Virginia also shows the GOP a new electoral college pathway to win the presidential race in 2024... as long as Trump himself isn't on the ballot.

Leaders at COP26 pledge to end deforestation by 2030; US election day bets

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at world leaders' deforestation pledge, US election outlooks, and China's "zero COVID" policy.

World leaders are pledging to end deforestation by 2030. What are the updates on COP26?

Well, that is one of the wins. It's the same pledge, but more countries are on board. The Russians, the Chinese, others that weren't before, and also, we're seeing movement on methane reduction pledges. Not as significant in amount as carbon dioxide emissions, but more dangerous in terms of impact on global warming. But the big issue, of course, is that still on carbon into the atmosphere, much lower coordination than you desperately need between north and south, rich and poor, Americans and Chinese. We are very far from where we want to be on that, and there, COP26 is a disappointment.

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Education clashes take center stage in Virginia governor's race

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

What's going on with the Virginia governor's race?

Well, the story in US politics this week is this governor's race in Virginia. Virginia is a state that's gone increasingly democratic in recent years. And President Biden won it by 10 points just last year, but the Republican, Glenn Youngkin, finds himself in a position to potentially win the election if you believe the public opinion polling, which is showing he's either ahead or tied in most of the horse race polling, that the Democratic governor, the incumbent governor has approval ratings that are low enough to make it very hard for his successor to win an election in an evenly balanced state. Virginia's not an evenly balanced state. It leans Democratic. But third, and perhaps most importantly, the Republican's ahead on the key issue in this race: education.

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What We’re Watching: Biden in Europe, Gulf states vs Lebanon, elections in Nicaragua, South Africa & Virginia

Biden's Euro trip. President Joe Biden is on a crucial Euro trip. It began in Rome at the G-20 Summit, where his idea for a global minimum tax rate was broadly endorsed by the group. Biden also visited Pope Francis at the Vatican — a get-together that produced decidedly less scary photos than when his predecessor held a papal visit — and met with France's President Emmanuel Macron to try to smooth over strained relations after the AUKUS debacle, which he now says had been "clumsy." The US president had another face-to-face with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, just a week after Ankara threatened to expel the US ambassador. But there's a domestic component at play too: Biden was hoping to have passed two infrastructure bills, which include money for climate change, before he attended the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, which kicked off on Sunday. Failure to close the deal on Capitol Hill would deal Biden's credibility a heavy blow just at the moment he wants to reinforce the US commitment to climate change reduction goals at this week's summit and to claim, yet again, that America is indeed back! But Democrats continue to wrangle over both what's in the bills and how to pay for them. Meanwhile, only a third of Americans now say that the US is headed in the right direction. Biden was hoping to have the wind at his back as he sailed into Europe. Instead, he is facing a strong political headwind.

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What We're Watching: Virginia gov election a test for Biden

A nail-biter in Virginia. The campaign for the 2022 US midterm elections officially kicks off Tuesday, when Virginia votes to elect a new governor in a race widely seen as a temperature check on Joe Biden's popularity after 10 months. Democrats hope that former Gov. Terry McAuliffe wins back his old job so that the purple state does not slide into Republican hands ahead of presidential elections in 2024. But GOP challenger Glenn Youngkin, a millionaire businessman supported by Donald Trump, has caught up in the polls once led comfortably by McAuliffe in a campaign marked by education culture wars. Now both are in a dead heat, and the result will likely be very close. A Youngkin victory would be a big boost for Republicans, who'll gain momentum going into the midterms next year, where the Dems face long odds of keeping control of both houses of Congress. What's more, it would add pressure on Biden to mediate between the moderate and progressive wings of his party to pass a social spending bill, the hallmark of his policy agenda. With his own approval rate plummeting, the president needs a big win that Democrats can sell to voters a year from now.

Virginia’s governor race tests Democrats ahead of 2022 midterms

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.

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