Analysis: Why Virginia's 2021 elections are a good 2022 tea leaf

May 16, 2021 at 17:02

(CNN) Last week, Glenn Youngkin earned the Republican nomination for this year's Virginia governor's race.
And while Virginia is just one state (or commonwealth), the outcome in these races could give us a real clue about where the national political environment stands heading into the 2022 midterms .
Virginia's unique in that no person can serve as governor more than one term in a row.
That's important because governor's races without incumbents running can, on the whole, tell us a lot about the political environment, if we know how to put them in context.
To see how the relationship between Virginia elections and next year's federal elections has worked in the past, look at the last Virginia gubernatorial election in 2017.
The Democrats won the governor's race by a little less than 9 points, which meant the result was consistent with a national environment of Democrats ahead by about 6.5 points.
They would go on to win the national House vote the following year by 8.6 points -- very close to the overperformance they had in Virginia.
Governors' races individually can be misleading (for example, Democrats winning the 2013 Virginia governor's race before getting trounced in the 2014 midterms), and they're best examined as a whole.
The fact that groups of elections can tell us more than any one individually is why we need to keep an eye on Virginia's House of Delegates elections this year as well.
In other words, it pointed to a similarly strong national environment for the Democrats as the governor's race did.
In 2013 , however, the delegate races pointed in a different direction than the governor's race.
Democrats should do well in both the Virginia gubernatorial delegate races, if the political environment is in their favor.