Following Tuesday's Election Day results from around the country showing a push towards Republican leaders and ideas, Democrats are now facing an uncertain future as major election years fast approach.
In Virginia, Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin edged out Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe. In New Jersey, Incumbent Democratic Governor Philip Murphy is holding onto a lead by a fraction of a percent. In Minneapolis, residents soundly voted to keep their police department, rather than remove it.
In an interview with Fox News in Wednesday, Senator Ted Cruz said, "I think last night was a big damn deal. There are a lot of Democrats right now I'll tell you on Capitol Hill who are freaked out."
"You look at Virginia last night and Glenn Youngkin ran a fantastic campaign. But it was a campaign that brought a lot of folks who had voted for Joe Biden, back to the Republican side and a lot of suburban moms," he continued.
Cruz said that issues that really resonated with Virginians the most were "issues like parents having influence and control over what their kids are taught."
"You know, the teaching of critical race theory, the Loudoun County School Board covering up the violent rape of a teenage girl, and then the arrogance of the Democrats saying parents have no control over that," he added. "And even worse, the Attorney General Joe Biden's Attorney General, calling those parents domestic terrorist I think that directly led to the result last night."
This election, in Virginia and across the country, will pave the way for future years' election. As Kamala Harris said in an October McAuliffe rally, "What happens in Virginia will in large part determine what happens in 2022, 2024, and on."
In Virginia, an estimated 3.3 million people turned out to vote, outperforming previous gubernatorial elections, according to The Washington Post.
"Big Republican turnout and the suburbs move back to where they were pre-Trump," said Jared Leopold, a former Democratic Governors Association spokesman. "I think the education piece was a big part of it. Youngkin had a message about education that was framed in a positive way for parents."
Democratic officials and strategists said that to counteract the strong anti-Democratic and anti-Biden energy driving the conservatives and suburban independents to vote Republican in Virginia, "the party needs to significantly improve its economic pitch, engage with young voters, voters of color and women under 50 far earlier and more aggressively than they have this year and renew efforts to recruit a more diverse slate of candidates," wrote The Washington Post.
"If there's not an economic reason to vote for us, there's not a reason to vote for Democrats," said Josh Ulibarri, a pollster for Del. Hala S. Ayala.
The 2021 race in Virginia was seen by Democrats as a preview of voter attitudes ahead of 2022's midterm elections, in which many of their House and Senate seats will be up for reelection.
Democrats also saw this race as a "test of whether they could turn out voters when their chief nemesis, Trump, was not on the ballot and Biden was falling in popularity," wrote The Washington Post.
In smaller elections, like for seats on the Democrat controlled City Council of New York, Republicans were able to make headway, winning seats in districts in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.
Minneapolis residents decided against removing their police department to be replaced with a public safety department, despite pushing from Democrats since last year to defund police nation-wide. Places that have defunded their police, have subsequently seen crime rates skyrocket.
As the 2022 midterm election fast approaches, Democrats must scramble to unite, or fall to the growing crowds of frustrated voters casting Republican votes, votes against critical race theory, against mandates, and more. In 2022, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 34 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested. Thirty-nine state and territorial gubernatorial and other state and local elections will also take place.