Wayne Dawkins is a writer, and a professor of professional practice at Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication.

By Wayne Dawkins
Special to the AFRO

The Trojan horse, Glenn Youngkin, plowed through the fortress and will now lead Virginia.

The Republican businessman upset former Democratic Gov. Terry McAullife 51% to 49%. Multiple polls warned citizens that the Donald Trump acolyte had a good chance of narrowly beating the experienced moderate-liberal moderate, yet there were encouraging signs that McAullife supporters would shake off Trump fatigue and the instinct to sit out off-year elections and engage. There was not only record turnout, but record early voting, the latter which tended to favor Democrats.

However, the Republicans were highly motivated too and turned out enough voters to eke out wins. Don’t let anyone claim that individual votes do not matter. 

This election has consequences, as in receding from the progressive, bluish direction of the commonwealth for the past decade, and a signal to the nation that the Joe Biden agenda in Washington could remain stalled as Republicans block and hold out for next year’s Congressional elections that they believe will win.

In addition to Youngkin, there were two other close statewide races

History was made because for the first time a woman of color will serve as lieutenant governor. Winsome Sears, a Black woman and Republican, narrowly defeated Democrat Hala Ayala 50.7% to 49.3 based on 3.3 million votes cast. 

Sears, a Jamaican immigrant and U.S. Marine veteran, is synonymous with brandishing a semiautomatic rifle in proclaiming her love of Second Amendment rights. Does her values to do her job match those of most of the 87% of African-American voters who pulled levers for Democrats as if their very lives depended on it?

And in the race for attorney general, Jason Miyares edged longtime incumbent Mark Herring by vapors, about 30,000 votes out of 3.3 million cast, reported the Washington Post, so close the contest was not called as press time and there may be a recount. 

Herring promised to be the firewall that would protect women from losing abortion rights; Miyares, a child of Cuban immigrant parents, was accused of being an enabler of the Jan. 6 insurrectionists. Miyares was able to convince enough voters that Herring was lax in allowing some high school girls in Loudoun County schools to be sexually assaulted in bathrooms by boys who posed as transgender students.

A polarized electorate, based on demographics, were keys to these close elections:

* Urban voters favored McAuliffe 2-1, but Youngkin overwhelmingly won the vast rural western corner of the commonwealth, according to CBS News exit polls.

* The suburban vote was close with Youngkin besting McAuliffe 53% to 47%. However, in city-suburban Hampton Roads, McAuliffe barely won and did not dominate as he did during his 2013 run. 

And wisely, Youngkin kept his sponsor Trump at arm’s length so as not to alarm voters.

* White women with college degrees favored the Democrat; White women with high school education or less favored the Republican.

* White men with a high school education or less overwhelmingly supported Youngkin, which recalls the chilling Trump 2016 campaign line, “I just love the poorly educated.”

A non-polarizing factor in yesterday’s election was the role of independent Virginia voters. For the past dozen years, extreme GOP gubernatorial candidates were rejected by independents who were economic conservatives and often moderate on social issues. This time, independents voted 54% to 45% for Youngkin instead of McAuliffe.

Apparently, enough independents believed Democrats overreached and turned dark blue. It was time to dilute the tint.

“We’re going to change the trajectory of this commonwealth,” roared Youngkin at his victory rally. I hope not. At McAuliffe’s concession, he reminded the sober crowd, “we made our state open and welcoming.” Time will tell.

The writer is a professor of professional practice at Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication.

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