Republicans scored a massive victory recently, winning two seats in the local legislature in Virginia. Since Democrats held these seats previously, it’s an enormous victory for the GOP in this legislature and might set the stage for others. How did the GOP manage to unseat the Democrats from Virginia? Let’s take a look at how it unfolded.

A Vital Battleground State

Virginia has skewed blue for a lot of its recent political life. In the last three elections, it’s been a Democratic seat, making this particular victory even more critical to the GOP. It first started skewing to the Democrats in the early 1990s.

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As the demographics of the state changed, with rapid population growth and a change in the general population’s politics, the state started voting toward liberal politics. Complete control for the Democrats didn’t happen until 2008.

Virginia’s Recent Political History

In recent years, Virginia has witnessed a notable political shift, transitioning from a traditionally red state to a more politically diverse landscape. The state experienced a Democratic resurgence, marked by key victories in statewide elections.

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This shift reflects changing demographics and evolving political attitudes, positioning Virginia as a crucial battleground in national politics.

Two Wide Margin Wins

Tammy Mulchi, the GOP representative, decimated her Democrat counterpart, 63.9% to 26.1%. She won the 9th state Senate District in Southside, succeeding state senator Frank Ruff. The senator retired because of a cancer diagnosis.

Source: Flickr/ Jake Slagle

Eric Phillips, a small business owner from Henry County, won the state House, replacing Del. Les Adams. This was another landslide win, with Phillips getting 72% of the vote compared to his Democrat opponent, Melody Cartwright.

Predicted In Advance

While it might be a surprise to some that these districts decided to vote for the GOP, it was a foregone conclusion for others. The state’s voter base is heavily Democrat, so why did these districts vote for the Republicans?

Source Flickr/ Mark Robbins

Some political commentators point out that these districts are already very red. Their core demographic is the same as the target for GOP campaigning. Because of this similarity, political commentators were unsurprised to see the districts go to the GOP.

A Fighter For a Cause

Governor of the state, Gov. Glenn Youngkin, has been trying to forward the Republican conservative point of view in the house, and these newly elected members may be just what the state needs to push that agenda forward.

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These newly elected officials are eager to help promote the conservative agenda to Washington, especially as Democrats control the House. Phillips states that he was willing to support the Governor during his time in the House, to much applause from his supporters.

Does This Really Mean Much Nationally?

Since Virginia is a majority Democrat state, losing it to the GOP in such a spectacular fashion might cause shockwaves around the country politically. However, some political commentators disagree that this would have any effect on the larger picture.

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As noted, political experts predicted that these seats would go to the GOP before the election because of their demographics research. If the GOP had lost these seats, it would have sent a completely different message, which may have rocked the entire party.

Many States Could Swing Either Way

It’s a bit convoluted when you zoom out to take in the bigger picture. States have skewed one way or another in past elections, but the uncertainty from both parties makes it hard to determine which direction any single state will go.

Source: Flickr/ Steve Hardy

This small victory might give the GOP some hope of flipping Virginia; the political analysts are quiet on how likely that is. The increasingly partisan nature of politics makes it even more challenging to predict which side will leave with a victory in which state.

A Rallying Cry for Republicans

The Republican party has been facing much divisiveness lately. One of the most telling recent events is the party’s push to block Donald Trump from the Republican candidacy despite a large volume of support from the party’s base.

Source: Flickr/ Michael Candelori

Taking these two seats may galvanize Republicans before the 2024 elections, and showing them unity would be a better strategy. In both votes, the margin of victory was massively higher than in the same districts in 2020.

More Voting Happening At the Same Time

In addition to these special elections, there were also eleven other elections for the House of Representatives. The results here were far more mellow than the special election results but underlined the State’s political persuasion.

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There were no changes to the eleven representatives. Neither party managed to flip a seat, leaving the House with its regular complement of four Republican representatives and seven Democrats. These results were also not very surprising.

An Acid Test To Take Note Of

Many opinions state that the Virginia special elections don’t really hold any national clout. However, the results may be a portent for things to come. As some political analysts have noted, Virginia’s elections usually foreshadow the results of the next election cycle.

Source: Flickr/ Carolina Biological Supply Company

For example, in 2019, Democrats flipped both chambers of the Virginia Legislature in the elections of that year. The following year, Joe Biden won the presidency. In 2021, the GOP took the Virginia House. They subsequently won back the US House of Representatives in 2022.

A Precedent That’s Hard to Ignore

Some will see this pattern and consider it a mild coincidence, but others might put more stock into the facts. The party controlling the Virginia Senate going into the elections is more likely to be the party that wins the elections.

Source: Unsplash/ Arnaud Jaegers

Yet, this still leaves the question largely open regarding which party stands to win the next National Election. The GOP controls the offices of the governor, attorney general, and secretary of state. The Democrats hold both chambers of the legislature.

Is Democrat Control In Danger?

While the Democrats hold both chambers, their hold on power is tenuous at best. An October 2023 poll found that Democrats only had a two-point margin in holding onto the legislature. This generic poll was conducted to ascertain if an election was held immediately and who would be chosen.

Source: Reuters

This two-point margin is minimal and could even be considered negligible. It’s not even close to the margin the Democrats held when they won the House in 2019. It could be a sign of a changing tide in the state.

Most Special Elections Have Been Favorable To Democrats

Throughout the country, many special elections have seen a massive Democrat turnout. This is significant since special elections usually have low voter turnouts in general. It’s unclear what galvanizes such support.

Source: Flickr/ House Democrats

The massive GOP win in Virginia shows that this doesn’t hold for every special election either. It’s possible that this will generate momentum to carry the GOP forward in other electoral districts.

What Would Have Happened If The GOP Lost The Special Elections?

According to political analysts, it’s unlikely the GOP would have lost this special election. Still, if they did, it would have been a disaster for Virginia’s Republicans and the entire GOP on a national level.

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Losing an election in seats they already controlled through demographics would show cracks in the party that could not be fixed. With division growing in the ranks of the GOP, it would look terrible when you look at the big picture.

Biden Carried The State Previously

In the previous 2020 elections, the state went full blue. Biden secured 54.4% of the popular vote to win the state, with Trump managing 44.2%. With such a majority towards the Democrats, you’d think the state might be a foregone conclusion in the coming elections.

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However, previous electoral performance is no guarantee of future performance. Just because the state voted for Biden in 2020 doesn’t guarantee they’d do it again in 2024. Even if they do, the margin might be much smaller than in the 2020 elections.

Can The Republicans Keep This Momentum?

It’s anyone’s guess whether the Republicans can continue this trend and win more seats. With the Houses held (albeit not firmly) by the Democrats, the Republicans must channel this energy into the national elections.

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The Republicans need as much help as possible to get themselves in shape for the coming national elections. Already, the machinery is gearing up, and campaign funding for the primaries is already in full swing. However, it could all be in vain without the people’s support.

Questions About Primary Legalities

In one of the surprising events leading up to the Republican primaries, members of the GOP questioned Donald Trump’s eligibility to run for the Republicans. This has led to some grassroots supporters contemplating not voting since their support is with Trump.

Source: Flickr/ Gage Skidmore

Whether the GOP manages to sort itself out before the elections or not remains to be seen. The machinery is powerful enough to field a candidate that doesn’t have widespread support within the party, but it could spell disaster for the GOP bid for the presidency.

What The Future May Hold

Depending on which news agency you listen to, you may think that the 2024 presidential race is already decided. However, that could not be further from the truth. Both parties have a long way to go before they can estimate what will happen at the end of it all.

Source: Pexels/ Ramaz Bluashvili

The Republicans have issues within their party to sort out, and the win in the Virginia special elections may provide a rallying point to call for unity within the party ranks. If it succeeds, the GOP might be even more of a force to be reckoned with during the 2024 election season.