Democrats will achieve complete control of the Virginia legislature, marking an expansion of their presence in state government and delivering a significant setback to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s ambitions of governing alongside Republican majorities and implementing his conservative policy agenda. Virginia Democrats are set to take control of the state House while maintaining their majority in the state Senate.
The outcome of this year’s election was critical, with Republicans defending their narrow majority in the state House. Gov. Youngkin, who has been suggested as a potential late entrant into the 2024 Republican presidential race, had spent a substantial portion of the past few months rallying GOP voters in the hopes of securing a governing trifecta.
The elections were also widely regarded as a referendum on Gov. Youngkin’s non-MAGA (Make America Great Again) brand of conservative politics, along with the legislative candidates who endorsed it.
However, with Democrats projected to assume control of the state legislature, Gov. Youngkin may have lost the opportunity to present himself as a rare GOP leader distanced from the MAGA brand, with a track record of winning over some Democratic voters.
The results also underscore the influence of abortion politics, as another campaign in which reproductive rights played a central role broke in favor of Democrats. Gov. Youngkin had pledged that if Republicans secured full control of the Virginia legislature, he would support legislation to ban abortions after 15 weeks, with exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and when the mother’s life is at risk.
Ahead of the election, Virginia Democrats held a 22-17 majority in the state Senate, with one vacancy. Currently, Republicans maintain control of the state House with a 48-46 majority, including six vacancies.