“You can make the argument that with a campaign plan of linking Youngkin to Trump, McAuliffe shot himself.”
– Bill Wilson, MRF Chairman
Tuesday’s victory for Glenn Youngkin in the Virginia Governor’s race is offering Republicans a playbook for the midterms in swing states: run a political outsider candidate with a positive message laser focused on local issues and don’t make the entire election about former President Trump.
Bill Wilson, Chairman for Market Research Foundation, pointed out that it was McAuliffe, not Youngkin, who tried to use Trump to spook Virginians into supporting him and it backfired.
“You can make the argument that with a campaign plan of linking Youngkin to Trump, McAuliffe shot himself,” Wilson said the day after the election.
“The increase in the 89 jurisdictions that were GOP in 2013 and were again in 2021 is massive”, Wilson stated. “The MARGIN increased by 269,500 votes. Meanwhile, the Democrat MARGINAL INCREASE in Northern Virginia was only 127,235. So, the Democrats bought 127k votes at the price of 269k.”
“The increase in the 89 jurisdictions that were GOP in 2013 and were again in 2021 is massive. The MARGIN increased by 269,500 votes.”
Tuesday’s race saw record high voter turnout levels that far surpassed the 2013 Governor’s race between McAuliffe and GOP candidate Ken Cuccinelli, and a huge showing in rural regions that turned out for Trump in 2020.
As Market Research Foundation pointed out last week, Youngkin saw gains compared to Trump with college educated Whites and suburbanites, but also earned massive voter turnout rates in rural Trump-friendly regions.
Looking at suburbanites, independents, and college-educated White men in Virginia, Youngkin significantly improved on Trump’s numbers, and on 2017 GOP candidate Ed Gillespie’s numbers. Trump and Gillespie both struggled at about the same rates with suburban and independent voters, but Youngkin was able to win back ground.
“Trump and Gillespie both struggled at about the same rates with suburban and independent voters, but Youngkin was able to win back ground.”
However, Youngkin did lose ground compared to Trump with minorities, particularly Latinos and Black men, which presents a challenge for GOP candidates running in minority districts in 2022.
Youngkin recovered ground lost by Trump and Gillespie among independents, suburbanites
Youngkin beat Ed Gillespie’s 2017 numbers with independents by 4 points, and he beat Trump’s numbers with independents by 16 points. Youngkin won 54% independents Tuesday, while Gillespie won 50% and Trump won 38%.
Youngkin won about the same percentage of college educated White men as Gillespie in 2017 but gained six points compared to Trump. Trump won college-educated White men 49% to 46% in 2020, but Youngkin won them 55% to 44% on Tuesday.
Youngkin won fathers by ten points more than Trump did in 2020. Men with children favored Youngkin 59% to 41% and were evenly split between Biden and Trump in 2020 (49% to 49%).
McAuliffe still overwhelmingly won the DC suburbs like Biden did, but Youngkin improved on Trump and Gillespie’s numbers by six points. Youngkin won 36% of the DC suburbs, while Trump and Gillespie both won 30%.
Youngkin also improved on both Gillespie and Trump’s numbers in Hampton Roads, winning 46% of the vote compared to Trump’s 36% and Gillespie’s 37%.
In Richmond/Southside, Youngkin won 50% of the vote, to Trump’s 42% and Gillespie’s 44%.
Keeping Trump at bay may have hurt the GOP with minorities
Much has been written about former President Trump’s substantial gains with Latinos and Blacks in 2020. Last presidential election, Trump won 36% of Latino men nationwide (+ 4 points since 2016) and 30% of Latina women (+ 5 points since 2016). Among Blacks, Trump won a historic 18% of Black men (+5 points since 2016) and 9% of Black women (+5 points since 2016).
However, whether Latinos and Blacks will vote for Republican candidates in the midterms at margins close to Trump’s remain unclear.
Youngkin recouped ground with suburbanites, independents and college educated Whites and inspired substantial voter turnout in working-class Trump regions, but he fell short of Trump’s margins with Latinos and Black men.
“Youngkin recouped ground with suburbanites, independents and college educated Whites and inspired substantial voter turnout in working-class Trump regions, but he fell short of Trump’s margins with Latinos and Black men.”
As shown below, Latino women who made up about 4% of the electorate in 2020 and 3% of the electorate this year favored Trump over Youngkin by ten percentage points. Latino men made up about 3% of the electorate in 2020 and a full 41% supported Trump, but Latino men were absent from the electorate this year in large enough numbers to include in exit polls.
Keep in mind, Trump sits at an approval rating of 35% with Latinos while the Republican party sits at an approval rating of 25% according to the latest YouGov survey. For comparison, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has an approval rating of 17% with Latinos, and Senate Minority Leader since Mitch McConnell has an approval rating of just 13%. This does not mean Latinos won’t turn out for a compelling candidate in the midterms, but it is undeniable that Trump has enduring appeal.
Exit polls show Youngkin was slightly less popular with Black men than Trump, but significantly more popular with Black women.
Youngkin lost 1 point with Black men compared to Trump in 2020 but gained three points compared to Cuccinelli in 2013.
Youngkin won double the share of Black women compared to Cuccinelli in 2013, bringing the GOP share of the vote from 7% to 14%. He also nearly doubled his share of the Black female vote compared to Trump in 2020.
As for McAuliffe, Democrats lost 5 points with Black women between 2013 and 2021 and 3 points with Black men. Below is the split for Black men and women from 2013 to 2020 and 2021.
The Youngkin strategy of downplaying Trump may have helped him with a few groups in Northern Virginia, but the cost in lost Hispanic and Black men may have been too high.