Democrats got shellacked in this week’s elections. Why?

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Democratic nominee for Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe looks on as he addresses supporters during an election night party and rally in McLean, Virginia, U.S., November 2, 2021. Photo by Leah Millis/Reuters.

It’s been a rough week for Democrats. They lost a governor’s race in Virginia and just barely held on in New Jersey – and even in New York City, Democrats lost city council seats to Republicans. What does this national rejection mean for the midterm elections, and how did things go so wrong for them?

First, we discuss why Glenn Youngkin won in a remarkably high turnout election in Virginia, and what was behind his gains in the suburbs and in diverse, historically Democratic cities. Did Donald Trump’s endorsement play into it? Was it a bad strategic move for his Democratic opponent to compare him to the former president? Also on the show: why Youngkin’s more centrist than the media says he is, and how his campaign on education was about a lot more than critical race theory. 

The panel talks through local races across the country and what they say about the issues voters care about. Voters in Minneapolis and St. Paul voted to establish rent control, and Boston elected a progressive mayor. Are places that aren’t seeing a surge in crime and unrest actually more likely to want progressive policies? What does this mixed bag of results mean for the left?

Plus, your weekly infrastructure update: Congress is very, very close to passing this bill (again). There’s also a new (Liz says worse) resurrection of a paid leave program. But with the scores from this week’s election, how much are voters counting on Democrats and President Biden to “build back better”?

Finally: Sean Trende wants you to read Ulysses and if you’re incensed by “let’s go, Brandon,” Liz and Josh implore you to chill out.