Yesterday CNN headlined that President Biden returned to a Democratic “nightmare”. The Times Peter Baker said Biden was returning to a “different country”. There’s no doubt Democrats had a rough night. They lost a close governor’s race in Virginia, a state they have come to see increasingly as home turf. They also narrowly lost control of the state House of Delegates which they first took control of in 2019. And while Democrat Phil Murphy won in New Jersey, Republicans made a very close race of it, in large part by a big drop off in Democrats showing up to vote.
As I wrote Tuesday night, this isn’t a surprising result. The President’s popularity is underwater. Polls say the public sees the country going in the wrong direction – a reality regardless of whether you or I think it is an accurate perception. But let’s also get real: the incumbent President’s party has consistently lost these two governorships every cycle for more than 30 years. The one exception was Terry McAuliffe in 2013. Murphy’s victory in New Jersey sees the first Democrat reelected governor in that state in 44 years.