Democrats will retain control of the Virginia state Senate, according to Associated Press projections, despite Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s attempts to win GOP control of the state legislature.
It’s still too early to project whether Republicans will keep their control of the state House of Delegates.
Virginia’s legislative elections grabbed outsized national attention, with both Democrats and Republicans spending millions on races, which were viewed in political circles as a key barometer ahead of the 2024 elections for president, control of Congress.
Republicans won elections for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general two years ago — their first statewide victories in a dozen years — and they flipped the House The victories in a state that had trended blue over the previous decade energized Republicans nationwide.
Strategists from both parties are looking closely at the results in Virginia’s northern suburbs of Washington D.C., and around Richmond, for any signs that Republicans are able to make inroads with suburban voters – and especially women – who fled the GOP in recent election cycles.
Virginia’s elections were also a major testing ground for Republicans on the divisive issue of abortion.
The blockbuster move last year by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to overturn the landmark nearly half-century-old Roe v. Wade ruling, which had allowed for legalized abortions nationwide, moved the divisive issue back to the states.
And it’s forced Republicans to play plenty of defense in elections across the country. A party that’s nearly entirely “pro-life” has had to deal with an electorate where a majority of Americans support at least some form of abortion access.
National and state Democrats made abortion a crucial centerpiece in their push to get out the vote in Virginia.
While some Republicans shied away from focusing on abortion, Youngkin leaned into the issue and pushed a proposed 15-week abortion ban, with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.
“I just wanted us to be very clear about what we were going to do,” he told Fox News last week. And he argued that “the other side is really good about spreading non-truths. And, of course, what they want to do is make abortion available all the way up through and including birth, paid for with taxpayer money.”
Democrats want to keep in place the state’s current restrictions, which allow abortions through the second trimester. And they note that Virginia is the only southern state that doesn’t ban abortions.