There is a political phenomenon of sorts, well known among the more politically inclined: the seemingly paradoxical nature of how liberal voters in the suburban Northeast grant so many gubernatorial victories to Republicans. For many, the surface-level details provide a head scratch and a shrug, although it is the extremely moderate nature of the political views and agendas of these candidates that provide a simple answer.
As the trend of liberal suburbanization has crept southward, it has made one particular formerly red state shine blue on electoral maps. The Virginia commonwealth has shown a stark shift from solidly Republican to solidly Democratic in presidential elections. Voters began the trend in 2008 and continued to vote for the Democratic nominees in 2016 and 2020 over Donald Trump by margins of more than five points. Suburban liberals along the east coast have repeatedly shown the political world that they will vote for Republicans under the stipulation that they generally operate as liberals.
One would expect, therefore, that the trend of liberal suburbanization in Virginia would have had similar implications for the state’s elections. They wouldn’t be wrong to expect that if a Republican were to have any chance at the governorship, they’d have to run a campaign resembling those of their New England colleagues. However, the events of recent months have made suggestions to the contrary. Glenn Youngkin, the Republican nominee for the Virginia governorship, has risen from obscurity to the betting favorite in the race. The campaign has navigated many obstacles, not least of which was dodging direct connections with Donald Trump. However, it would be inaccurate to suggest the election effort from Youngkin and his team has been a defensive one. Channeling swelling sentiment of resistance to recently proposed education practices among suburban demographics, Youngkin has made large portions of a blue state rally around him and has done so with twice the conservatism of fellow Chesapeake Republicans.
Republicans in areas where they must speak to the key demographic of suburbanites have a wonderful tool at their disposal in elections such as these: the ever-increasing radicalism of their Democratic opponents. Similar to how George W. Bush effectively played on the concerns of the so-called “security moms” in his 2004 campaign, Youngkin’s surge in Virginia has been aided by resistance to Democrat nominee Terry McCauliffe’s unapologetic pledge to remove parental influence from education and centering on the assertion that government knows best. As Democrats in Virginia have begun to take the state for granted, they’ve left the door open for someone to speak directly to growing resentment among Virginia parents. Youngkin seized the opportunity and hasn’t looked back. On a national scale, this sets the precedent for effective resistance to a Democratic party that continues to embrace staggering federal budgets as well as a new and dangerous perspective on race and society.
There have undoubtedly been cautions taken by the campaign so as to not push away prospective voters, most notably in a leaked audiotape in which Youngkin himself confesses he has avoided the issue of abortion so as to not overtly reveal his strongly pro-life views. This comes of no shock to any person with a reasonable understanding of how campaigns are run, but it does serve as an example of one of many ways in which Youngkin has been able to run a genuinely conservative campaign while simultaneously swaying many typically Democratic suburban residents to vote for him.
It would be unwise for conservative observers to reduce the upcoming election to a win or lose result. In the event that Youngkin loses, he will lose narrowly, and he will have shown that tremendous advancements for conservative politics can be made in non-conservative areas if managed properly. In the event that Youngkin wins, he will have shown a state, a region, and perhaps even a country that a new winning strategy for conservatives has emerged. Republicans in blue states will no longer spend their days doing apology tours for the political sins of their fellow party members or signing left-wing legislation to appease and garner the appreciation of their liberal constituencies. Instead, they will be well-equipped to skillfully forward an agenda that embraces the principles of their party.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.