Unsurprisingly, there has been a spate of commentary since the Virginia Democrats suffered a series of disappointing losses during the off-year elections this month – most not even from people who lived or worked here in politics. Their reaction was predictable: Terry McAuliffe lost for not speaking to swingers or moderate voters in the suburbs, which has always been a code for white voters. In fact, however, it was the long tradition of the Democratic Party taking its grassroots support for granted that led to up and down losses.
It is true that the turnout in the 2021 gubernatorial election in Virginia surpassed the turnout outside of 2017, which was the highest on record since the 1990s. But Republicans provided far more voters than Democrats – less than 65,000 votes – to win. It was an unnecessary loss that Democrats must learn from in order to avert further election losses in 2022.
One of the avoidable mistakes made in Virginia has been the lack of voter engagement throughout the Democratic state, especially in colored communities. I knew something was wrong when I found out that my own mother, a regular Democratic voter in Southern Virginia, was receiving no Scope of the McAuliffe campaign, however was contacted by the GOP. I have heard the same concern from countless black colleagues active in the state Democratic Party and allied groups. As politics reportedThere has been widespread concern “that black support for McAuliffe is weaker and less enthusiastic than it could be.” Organizers and strategists did not worry that blacks and other colored communities would not vote for Democrats, but many feared that votes would stay on the table because voter engagement efforts were not as strong as in previous campaigns.
You were right because the votes for McAuliffe and the Democratic ticket stayed on the table. Although voter turnout has increased in many democratic areas compared to four years ago, The GOP participation was even higher. Hundreds of thousands of voters who stood for Dems in Virginia in 2020 did not do so in 2021. And that brings me to the second mistake.
Local committees representing the Democratic Party reported lack of resources early in the cycle and having to resort to begging campaign supplies such as signs, literature and proxy to mobilize and organize voters and volunteers. I heard this in conversations with a number of local Democratic Committee Chairs and elected officials before and after the election, including the Fredericksburg City Democratic Committee Chairman who was also detailed their experience on a widely used Twitter thread. Unless you were an already well funded and / or organized Democratic Committee, your group was struggling. This lack of support was particularly felt in many exurban and rural areas – where the Democrats needed to increase the number of votes to win in 2021 (and where they need to increase the number of votes in 2022).