Conventional wisdom after the 2020 election was that the GOP had lost the suburban woman vote for the foreseeable future. This belief was compounded a year later as the Texas abortion law seized national media attention, and Democrat candidate Terry McAuliffe ran ads aimed at white women voters claiming his opponent Glenn Youngkin wanted to bring the same “far-right” abortion agenda to Virginia. On Tuesday night, this conventional wisdom proved to be utterly useless.
A September Bloomberg report headlined “GOP-Led Abortion Bans Risk Driving Away Voters the Party Needs” quoted Bulwark publisher Sarah Longwell claiming “Republicans are already hemorrhaging college-educated suburban voters. … This is an issue that further alienates that exact group of people.”
A similar report in The New York Times said by “warning of Texas-style laws nationwide,” the Democrat party “believes it can use the issue to turn out suburban women in the Virginia governor’s race this fall and the 2022 midterms.”
McAuliffe and his campaign leaned into this tactic. “Time and again Glenn Youngkin has made it clear: He would ban abortion as governor,” McAuliffe tweeted on Sept. 17. During a debate and in campaign ads run through much of September, McAuliffe repeatedly claimed Youngkin wants to end abortions.
Of course, this wasn’t true. Commenting on a secretly recorded conversation, Youngkin called himself “staunchly, unabashedly pro-life,” but he has never promised to ban “all abortion” as governor.
The Virginia election results proved both the corporate media narrative and McAuliffe’s campaign strategy to be complete bunk. Despite Biden winning the white women vote in Virginia just one year ago, McAuliffe lost that same demographic by a jaw-dropping 15 points. Exit polls suggested that Youngkin won 57 percent of all white women voters and 75 percent of white women voters without college degrees.
Virginia 2020 —> White women
50% Biden (D), 49% Trump (R)
Virginia 2021 —> White women
57% Youngkin (R), 43% McAuliffe (D)
A 15-point swing to the GOP with this group.
(via @NBCNews Exit Polls)
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) November 3, 2021
On multiple issues but especially abortion, McAuliffe tried to paint Youngkin as an extremist. The reality is that when it comes to abortion, just like the current Democrat Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam who advocates for infanticide, McAuliffe is the extremist. McAuliffe supports late-term abortion, a belief that is not even supported by a majority of pro-abortion Americans. In fact, 66 percent of U.S. adults who consider themselves “pro-choice” do not support abortion in the third trimester.
McAuliffe and the media wanted this race to be about Trump and abortion. Instead, this race was about another issue white women care about just as much, if not more: their children’s education. McAuliffe and his media cheerleaders were focused on the key demographic, but not the key issue, and it completely backfired.