Pardon Virginia voters for feeling like ‘here we go again’ as the Commonwealth ramps up for another election year, bringing out intense feelings on both sides according to Virginia Tech political expert Karen Hult.  Virginia is one of only two states with statewide elections in 2021.

“Washington again looms as a factor. National approval of Biden is generally high, but many Republicans are angry about the 2020 presidential election and some of the actions the new administration has taken. That in turn may boost Republican turnout and possibly some Democratic turnout to express enthusiasm or try to counter Republican opposition,” said Hult.

Seven Republican candidates are seeking the nomination for governor, decided this year on May 8 and featuring as many as 37 voting locations for GOP convention delegates.  On the Democratic side, the nominee for governor will be determined by a statewide primary on June 8.   

“Significantly more candidates are running for office at all levels than in the recent past,” noted Hult, “including nomination challenges for all three statewide positions and for numerous House of Delegates seats. That sort of competition tends to boost interest and turnout.”

When it comes to turnout, Hult points to those who believe the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” and notes that includes a majority of Virginia Republicans, according to some polls.

“It also includes those who disapprove of President Biden or some of his actions, voters who disagree with recent actions by Governor Northam or the Virginia state legislature; those with intense feelings on matters like gun rights or gun safety, racial equality, or reproductive freedom; those who strongly identify as being - or not being - Republican or Democrat.”

Hult believes this election could be an indicator of the future of the GOP in a post-Trump era, with others watching “the emergence and performance of a ‘Trumpian’ Republican Party, even without the former president.”

Professor Karen Hult teaches political science at Virginia Tech and its Center for Public Administration & Policy, with expertise in the U.S. Presidency and organizational and institutional theory. She serves on the advisory board to the White House Transition Project.

To schedule an interview with Karen Hult, contact Bill Foy by email, or by phone at (540) 998-0288.