The race to be Virginia’s next top official is the closest it has been as former Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin set for their final week of campaigning.
McAuliffe, a Democrat who held the post from 2013-2017, leads Youngkin by 2.1 points in FiveThirtyEight’s average, and by just 1.8 points in RealClearPolitics’ tracker. While McAuliffe was considered a wide favorite for much of the race given Virginia’s move leftward over the past decade, recent polls have shown him and Youngkin tied.
Also a factor is President Joe Biden’s declining approval rating in the state. One poll released Wednesday that showed the race tied also put Biden’s approval at 43%, even though he beat former President Donald Trump in the state by 10 points last November. (RELATED: McAuliffe And Youngkin Locked In Close Race, Vaccine And Economy Are Driving Issues)
McAuliffe has sought to energize the Democratic base ahead of the Nov. 2 election. He campaigned with former President Barack Obama Saturday and is set to do the same with Biden Tuesday, and has tried to tie Youngkin to Trump in a bid to turn off swing voters.
Youngkin, however, focused heavily on education in the past month, contrasting himself with McAuliffe’s comments criticizing parents trying to influence what their kids learn in school. He also is on-record opposing vaccine mandates, though he has encouraged Virginians to get vaccinated.
Forecasters have said that the race may serve as a national bellwether ahead of the 2022 midterms, and that a McAuliffe loss could be an ominous prelude of what lies ahead for Democrats. McAuliffe, however, could benefit if Democrats in Congress are able to compromise this week on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and their budget, which would give Biden a much-needed legislative victory.
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