Republicans enjoyed double-digit gains in a pair of Virginia swing districts crucial to determining whether the party takes control of the House in 2022, results that left vulnerable Democrats reeling.
In Virginia's Seventh Congressional District, which Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D.) won by 2 points in 2020, Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin (R.) bested Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe by 15 points—an extraordinary 17-point swing, precinct data released by the Virginia Department of Elections show. In the state's 2nd district, which Rep. Elaine Luria won by 6 points in 2020, Youngkin led McAuliffe by 8 points, marking a 14-point swing.
The results sent Democrats into a frenzy as they work to retain their narrow grip on Congress in next year's midterm elections. Following Youngkin's upset victory on Tuesday, Spanberger delivered a scathing rebuke of President Joe Biden's agenda, which she portrayed as overreaching and out of touch with the problems facing everyday Americans.
"Nobody elected him to be FDR, they elected him to be normal and stop the chaos," Spanberger said of Biden. "We were so willing to take seriously a global pandemic, but we're not willing to say, ‘Yeah, inflation is a problem, and supply chain is a problem, and we don't have enough workers in our workforce. We gloss over that and only like to admit problems in spaces we dominate."
The White House did not return a request for comment.
In response to Youngkin's win, Biden said Wednesday that McAuliffe "maybe" would have prevailed if Democrats passed his infrastructure and social spending bills "before Election Day." But not all of the president's partymates agree. Hours before Biden's remark, Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) said Republicans' sweep of Virginia exemplifies Americans' "concerns" over inflation and increased federal spending. For Manchin, the result stressed the need for Democrats to "take our time" on passing Biden's agenda in order to "do it right."
Recent polling also suggests that vulnerable Democrats could face backlash if they choose to support Biden's $1.75 trillion package. According to an October Harvard CAPS-Harris poll, 58 percent of registered voters oppose "a $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion social spending bill that would be financed by increasing the deficit and tax increases," and 56 percent think such a bill would "lead to more inflation." The poll also found that 56 percent of voters would be "less likely" to vote for their representative should they vote for the bill.
Republicans are now bullish about their ability to replicate Tuesday's success in Virginia across the country. The National Republican Congressional Committee expanded its target list in the wake of Youngkin's win, adding 13 members to the list of Democrats it plans to unseat in 2022. The nonpartisan Sabato's Crystal Ball also changed its ratings for three high-profile Senate races—Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada—from "leans Democratic" to "toss-up." Even in Colorado, a state Biden won by 14 points, 50 percent of voters view the president unfavorably—an 8-point increase in just four months, according to an October Rocky Mountaineer poll.
"In a cycle like this, no Democrat is safe," NRCC chairman Tom Emmer said.