WASHINGTON — Although the 2024 presidential race has been dominating headlines, the nation is just two weeks away from important off-year elections. Early voting is already underway in Virginia. The Commonwealth is often seen as a bellwether on big issues like abortion.
Closely contested legislative races on Nov. 7 are set to determine the balance of power in the Virginia General Assembly. Experts tell CBN News the fate of families is also on the ballot.
Across Virginia, every General Assembly seat is on the ballot in an election set to determine party control of the narrowly divided legislative body.
Democrats control the state Senate by a four-vote margin, and Republicans control the Virginia House of Delegates by the same margin.
Virginia’s Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin wants the GOP to win both chambers to bolster his agenda.
“If Youngkin gets his Republican trifecta, the Democrats have been saying that in Virginia, we may start looking in terms of our legislative agenda,” said J. Miles Coleman, associate editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “We may start looking more like, say, a Florida or a Texas.”
That GOP trifecta would likely allow Youngkin to push conservative priorities such as protecting parental rights in education and enacting greater restrictions on abortion.
The Associated Press reports that while door knocking, Virginia state Senate candidate Democrat Russet Perry said the top issue discussed, even from some Republicans and Independents, is protecting abortion.
Virginia is the only state in the South that hasn’t made new restrictions on access since the Supreme Court’s rescinding of Roe v. Wade.
Democrats argue Youngkin’s proposed ban on abortion after 15 weeks with exceptions for rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother, would endanger women’s health. Advocates claim science supports the restriction.
“You can see and meet your child before they’re born,” said Kaitlin Makuski, political coordinator for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. “You know, if they’re right-handed or left-handed. You can see their fingers and toes very clearly. Polling has shown that a majority of Virginians think that that’s a very reasonable limit. It’s a reasonable and compassionate approach to this issue while providing resources for women in need as well.”
The Centers for Disease Control reports that Virginia’s black women accounted for the highest percentages of all abortions in the state in 2020. The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus says the commonwealth is in a health crisis for vulnerable populations and wants caucus members to protect abortion coverage.
Congressional maps look different after a once-a-decade redistricting process. Experts say the Old Dominion is still a purple state and both sides need to energize their base.
“There could be some who just aren’t necessarily energized to turn out,” said Michael K. Fauntroy, an associate professor of policy and government and the founding director of the Race, Politics, and Policy Center at George Mason University.
“They may be tired of the culture wars, concerned about abortion, you know, the whole business around what’s taught in public schools. Some of these things, I think, make voters wary and don’t speak to the nuts-and-bolts issues around jobs and access,” Fauntroy said.
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