We were all wondering about how President Biden would take the news of his party’s spectacular defeat in the Virginia gubernatorial race. Now we know. Rather than discussing the reasons for the defeat, Biden has chosen to paint it as an odd kind of victory. Biden won Virginia easily last year; now his favored candidate in the heavily blue state has been defeated in a massive upset by his Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin.
Biden dodges reality
As usual, Biden’s remarks on the election were only semi-coherent. Still, we can decipher the gist of what the president said and the tone his people intend to adopt for the future.
Asked at a press conference if he took any responsibility for the disaster in Virginia, Biden largely dodged the question and did his best to avoid acknowledging the defeat any more than was absolutely necessary.
The president said that he had called the loser, Terry McAuliffe, to congratulate him on winning more votes than any other Democrat running for governor in that state.
He did not point out, however, that this also means that Republicans and independents voted for Glenn Youngkin in even greater numbers to give the Republicans their first statewide election win in the past decade.
Biden clearly thinks that McAuliffe should have won. Biden, after all, won Virginia and New Jersey easily in 2020 and one year is a very short period of time for such a drastic reversal.
He appeared to think that the poor showing in Virginia was a result of his party not being able to push through enough of its agenda.
Dems refuse to learn any lesson
This indicates that Biden and the Democrats will be choosing to double down on their agenda, rather than pulling back on the controversial policies they are pushing on the nation.
The problem with this is that Virginia seems to send the exact opposite message. Voters in that state did not vote for Youngkin because they want more Biden, they voted for him because they want much less Biden.
Democrats attempted to make the campaign about Trump but Biden has refused to acknowledge that it could also be a statement on how his own decisions are being received by the nation.
The party was happy to present the race as a referendum on their policies nationally and the performance of Biden when it looked like they would win.
There seems to be no great sense within the party that they should change anything in particular to avoid future defeats in 2022 and 2024.
Democrats, including the president, still seem to be in the denial phase of coping with their Virginia defeat. The dominant mood in the party so far seems to be that they can collectively remain in denial for the next three years.