Virginia lost: US Democrats in a downwards spiral?
Republican Glenn Youngkin has been elected the next governor of the US state of Virginia according to preliminary results. The vote is widely seen as an important test of the mood ahead of the midterm elections in the US next year. If the Democrats lose their wafer-thin majority in the Senate, Joe Biden will have little chance of implementing his governmental plans. Europe's press is following the developments with great interest.
Inflation taking a toll on Biden's popularity
Izvestia sees other reasons besides Covid and the Afghanistan debacle for the dip in Biden's and the Democrats' approval ratings:
“There are also the problems with Congress passing the federal budget and inflation shooting up to 5.4 percent - unusually high for the US. ... It is common knowledge that Americans vote with their pocketbooks - and on the anniversary of the Democrats' victory, the US is far away from the promised prosperity. It is not a catastrophe yet, but the government under Trump did not manoeuvre on the brink either. ... The Democrat has managed to plummet to his predecessor's [popularity] level from impressive heights. It will be difficult for him to make a comeback.”
Harmful internal turf wars
The Democrats are their own worst enemy at the moment, Avvenire comments angrily:
“There's the humiliation inflicted [on Biden] by the two senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. First they sabotaged his plan for economic, social and ecological reforms and then they literally ripped it to pieces. And these two are Democrats, not Republicans, mind you. ... Joe Biden cannot hold the reins of a fractious and divided party that is trying to bring radical leaders like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in line with moderate politicians like Nancy Pelosi who are experienced in finding a balance in the House of Representatives. The result: the Democrats are losing ground, and the polls confirm the near-vertical drop in the president's popularity.”
Not a catastrophe
The significance of the defeat should not be overrated, stresses The New Statesman:
“The White House's party has only won one Virginia election for governor since the 1970s ... And elsewhere, the news was less grim for the Democrats. Progressives will take solace in the election of Michelle Wu, a Green New Deal candidate ... Wu will be the first woman and the first Asian-American to serve as mayor of Boston. And midterm elections are still a full year away. The takeaway for Democrats, in other words, should be that they lost the governor's mansion, but not all hope - and that, to rekindle that hope, they need to offer Americans something other than 'not Trump'.”
The future lies in a moderate stance
Glenn Youngkin won with a campaign that was much less aggressive than Trump's. Yet Le Temps believes it unlikely that the Republicans will rely on this better strategy in the long term:
“After all, polls confirm that Donald Trump remains an ideal campaign and money machine for the party, his (numerous) scandals notwithstanding. And he also has a paralysing effect: the maxim 'if he runs, I won't' also holds for the few Republicans who do not support Trump and are considering taking the plunge and running for the White House. ... However, a transformation of the Republican Party is essential if the Grand Old Party is to become a strong formation that abides by the rules of democracy once more.”