On Tuesday, November 2, 2021, Americans went to the polls to vote on everything from school board candidates to members of Congress. There were fewer national races in this election but all elections matter. The results of these votes can provide important insights into how voters may approach the 2022 midterm elections. Here, Election Central takes a closer look.
Republican candidates did well in last week’s election. In Virginia, Glenn Youngkin won the governor’s race. This result is significant because Democrats hold a very slim majority in the House of Representatives and a one-seat majority in the Senate. If Republican candidates continue to attract voters, the GOP may take control of both houses of Congress in 2022.
What could explain this Republican trend? Democrats may have relied too heavily on Donald Trump’s continuing unpopularity among Democrats and some independent voters and hoped that would push more Democratic candidates to victory. That proved not to be the case. Republicans who won were skillfully able to hang onto Trump’s base of voters, while moderating his message enough to win back Republicans and independents who disliked Trump’s political positions.
Some conservative candidates in local school board races across the country focused their campaign on the teaching of critical race theory and mask mandates in school. Some of Glenn Youngkin’s campaign for the Virginia governor’s office was propelled by this Republican concern on education policy.
The debate over police reforms that began after George Floyd’s murder in May 2020 was another issue that drew many conservative voters to the polls. In Minneapolis, Minnesota, voters overwhelmingly voted down a measure to replace the Minneapolis Police Department.
The United States has now experienced 750,000 COVID-related deaths. For over a year and a half, Americans have experienced economic hardships, quarantine struggles, and the debate over mask-wearing in public. Something that political observers are calling “COVID fatigue” influenced the election results some as well. Some Republican candidates did well because some voters are tired of a general Democratic Party support of mask mandates and other safety protocols.