Progressives Blame Dropped Liberal Policies in Biden Bills for Democrats' Virginia Defeat

After what has been deemed a disaster for the party in Virginia, many Democrats are wondering what went wrong in the blue-leaning state. Some progressives, however, are speculating that key policies left out of President Joe Biden's bills cost the party Virginia and potentially other states.

According to the Associated Press, progressives are saying that the bills proposed by the Biden administration lately have not been enough. A $3.5 trillion package of social and environmental initiatives has been cut in half, taking out many promises that Biden and other leaders had campaigned on.

"The lesson going into 2022 is that Democrats need to use power to get big things done for working people and then run on those accomplishments, period," the Progressive Change Campaign Committee said in a statement.

Progressives also suggested that Democrats delaying multiple economic bills eventually hurt their chances.

"I think there is a general sense of discontent, a tough year with the Delta variant, the challenges in the supply chain, the sense that Washington has been gridlocked," Representative Ro Khanna of California told AP. "We can't control the external circumstances, but we can control getting things done."

To read more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

House Minority Conference
Many Democrats are wondering what went wrong in Tuesday's elections. Above, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy holds a news conference to talk about Republican victories. From left: Representatives Elise Stefanik of New York, Virginia Foxx of Virginia, Tony Gonzales of Texas and Julia Letlow of Louisiana in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on November 3, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Virginia loss and a too-close-for-comfort race in New Jersey sent divided Democrats in Washington scrambling for answers and calling for new strategies to unstick a stalled legislative agenda before they sustain more political damage.

Republican Glenn Youngkin edged Democratic former Governor Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia governor's race, erasing Biden's 10-point margin of victory just a year ago. In New Jersey, heavily favored Democratic Governor Phil Murphy was neck-and-neck with Jack Ciattarelli in a state Biden carried by 16 percentage points.

The results were ominous for Democrats far beyond those states. The party's eroding support does not bode well as it clings to narrow House and Senate majorities ahead of midterm elections next year. Elections without presidential races historically mean many lost seats, especially in the House, for the party holding the White House.

"I would hope this clarifies everybody's thinking about how important it is to get these bills behind us," said Representative Gerald Connolly, a Virginia Democrat who represents some of Washington's prosperous suburbs. "The time for kvetching is over."

A fellow Virginia Democrat, Senator Tim Kaine, lamented that some Democrats "wanted to be purist about whatever their own particular goals were, left, right and center." He added, "A lot of politics is about timing. And there was a time to do this that would have helped in both of these states."

Three-quarters of voters said drawn-out negotiations in Washington over Biden's governing agenda were an important factor in their vote. Those voters were more likely to back Youngkin, according to preliminary results from AP VoteCast, a survey of Virginia voters.

After arriving back in the U.S. early Wednesday morning from global summits in Europe, Biden planned remarks on COVID vaccinations for kids but otherwise had no public schedule as he and his advisers took stock of what lessons could be gleaned from the Virginia and New Jersey voting.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the House GOP's campaign arm, signaled its optimism Wednesday by adding 13 Democratic-held House seats to the 57 it was already targeting for 2022.

"In a cycle like this, no Democrat is safe," said NRCC Chairman Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota.

Even so, Democrats said much could change in 12 months including an easing of inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic and enactment of their party's economic agenda.

"It could be a very different political environment by next spring," Connolly said.

Terry McAuliffe Defeat
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe prepares to speak at an election night party in McLean, Virginia, on November 2, 2021. Some Democrats are saying that canceled and delayed bills cost him the election. AP Photo/Steve Helber