The closely-watched Virginia gubernatorial race will come to a head on Tuesday when voters go to the polls in an election likely to set the tone for next year’s midterm elections.
Polls show former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) side by side with former CEO of private equity Glenn Youngkin (R), making Democrats nervous as the party prepares for a midterm election year that is likely to will be seen as a referendum on President BidenJoe Biden Biden Administration Targets Methane Emissions McConnell Criticizes Possible Payments to Separated Migrant Families Poll: 50 percent of Republicans don’t think their vote is accurately counted MOREFirst term in office.
Here are five things to keep in mind in your Virginia gubernatorial election.
Will Youngkin make his way into the suburbs?
Virginia’s cities and suburbs, particularly those in the northern part of the state outside of Washington, DC, have long been considered Democratic strongholds.
Youngkin’s allies have recognized throughout the campaign that breaking the Democrats’ blue wall in the suburbs would be difficult. However, the campaign has argued that Youngkin’s path to victory does not necessarily imply the need to win the suburban and exurban enclaves of the state.
But Youngkin’s supporters and allies have hinted that his campaign’s focus on education-related issues, primarily parental rights over school boards, will appeal to suburban voters. Loudoun County, which has been the epicenter of the battle between school boards and parents, could be the best test case for the strategy.
Democrats have ignored the suggestion that Youngkin could make big strides in Northern Virginia as a Republican a year after the former President TrumpDonald TrumpMcAuliffe, Youngkin hold final campaign rallies ahead of tight Virginia gubernatorial race Poll: 50 percent of Republicans don’t think their vote is accurately counted overnight Defense and National Security: The Sub-Deal Showdown intensifies MORE lost the state by 10 points. On top of that, President Biden won Northern Virginia by 520,000 votes last year. In Loudoun County, Biden edged out Trump with a whopping 61 percent of the vote, compared to 37 percent for Trump.
How will Trump and Biden influence?
Trump’s unpopularity in the Commonwealth is influencing the Democrats’ strategy of linking Youngkin with the former president. It is also likely to play a role in Youngkin’s decision to keep the former president at arm’s length.
Youngkin has not campaigned with Trump in person, but has said he is “honored” to receive his endorsement. Rather than visiting Virginia to hold a rally in person, Trump is scheduled to hold a telerally in support of Youngkin on Monday.
Trump entered the race once again on Monday morning, issuing a statement saying that he gets along with Youngkin and that the two “strongly believe in many of the same policies.”
McAuliffe was quick to release his own statement in response to one issued by Trump, calling the former president’s comments “nothing more than the culmination of a dangerous alliance to bring division, hatred and Trumpism to Virginia disguised in a wool vest and khaki pants. “.
But Democrats are also grappling with Biden’s relative unpopularity. The president’s national approval rating dropped to 42 percent, according to a national NBC News poll released Sunday. Polls show that your approval ratings in Virginia reflect your national approval rating.
Biden has faced headwinds on Capitol Hill in recent days, with Democrats scrambling to come together to pass the president’s bipartisan infrastructure plan along with a massive economic spending package.
Democrats argue that McAuliffe’s decision to campaign with Biden in the closing days of the election is an indication that the president is only showing that he is pushing the Democratic base forward.
How will the participation of Republicans and Democrats be?
The move to attract the game’s big hitters, including Biden, a former President ObamaBarack Hussein Obama Kal Penn thanks supporters ‘for all the love’ after the revelation that he is engaged to his longtime partner, NASA chief Bill Nelson, the latest official to suggest that UFOs have origins from another world. Biden’s test in Taiwan is coming MORE, Vice President Harris and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams to campaign with McAuliffe is part of a broader strategy to boost the state’s Democratic base.
Polls show Republicans prevail over Democrats in the enthusiasm gap. A Monmouth University poll released last month showed that 49 percent of Republican voters say they are more excited than usual about voting in the election compared to 26 percent of Democrats.
Unlike McAuliffe, Youngkin’s campaign has not attracted big names from the Republican Party. Despite lacking big name figures, Youngkin has still managed to draw crowds of over a thousand at his recent campaign events.
Democrats argue that the lack of enthusiasm on their part is the result of fatigue stemming from a major presidential election that took place in the midst of a global pandemic, as well as being an off-year election. But the race has drawn more national attention in recent weeks, which could be a good sign for Democrats, who are looking to wake up their base.
The party is also viewing the recent early voting data as a positive sign for McAuliffe. According to Democratic data firm Target Smart, at least 1,137,656 people have voted, Democrats account for 53 percent of that count and Republicans 30 percent. This gap is likely to close on Election Day, when Republican voters are expected to go to the polls.
In which direction will Virginia’s minority voters lean?
Democrats and Republicans will also be watching closely how Virginia’s minority voters, specifically black and Hispanic voters, move on. Black voters make up about 20 percent of the population, while Hispanic and Latino voters make up about 10 percent.
“We have to participate in large numbers,” said House Majority Whip James Clyburn (DS.C.), who campaigned with McAuliffe this weekend and is credited with driving the black vote for Biden during last year’s Democratic presidential primary.
Black voters played a pivotal role in Biden’s victory in 2020, in particular trading Georgia for Biden and ushering in now Sens. Raphael warnockRaphael WarnockBiden’s Reconciliation Framework Includes Alternative Medicaid Solution, No Medicare Vision or Dental Benefits Senate Republican Party Ranks Behind Trump Perdue-Backed Candidates Reflects Top Challenge Against Kemp in Georgia: Report MORE (D-Ga.) And Jon ossoffJon OssoffBiden’s Reconciliation Framework Includes Alternative Medicaid Solution, No Medicare Dental or Vision Benefits Perdue Reflects on Top Challenge Against Kemp in Georgia: McConnell Report Endorses Herschel Walker in Georgia Senate Race MORE (D-Ga.) To victory. The party hopes to replicate that in Virginia, where black voters favor McAuliffe over Youngkin from 81 to 8 percent, according to a Suffolk University poll.
The Hispanic and Latino vote is also being watched closely, and Republicans are looking to make their way with that electorate. An Emerson College poll conducted and released earlier this month found that Youngkin leads McAuliffe between 55 and 45 percent among Hispanic voters.
The voting block proved critical for Republicans in a series of key races in 2020, particularly in Texas and Florida, where Republicans won two House seats.
Will both candidates accept the election results?
While McAuliffe and Youngkin have said they will accept the election results, Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him have loomed large in the Virginia race.
McAuliffe has repeatedly struck down Youngkin for his “Election Integrity Task Force” and his calls to audit Virginia’s voting machines, saying his rhetoric matches Trump’s on the issue. Youngkin notably broke with Trump in September, saying he did not believe Democrats were going to try to steal the election and that he hoped to win.
Republicans have tried to turn the script around McAuliffe and the Democrats, pointing to McAuliffe’s comments in 2004 in which he said Democrats won the 2000 presidential election.
Former vice president Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreMcAuliffe in the 2000 election: ‘I wish the United States Supreme Court had let them finish counting the votes’ All Democrats must commit to pass economic plans, just like Amy Coney Barrett in 1993 sullies the Supreme Court MORE he won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College, and therefore the presidency, to former President George W. Bush. The 2000 contest is considered one of the closest in US history and culminated in the Supreme Court decision of Bush against Gore.
When asked last month by CNN Dana bashTwins Dana BashButtigieg Dress Up As ‘Infrastructure Twin’ For Halloween Officials, Lawmakers Express Optimism About Infrastructure, Voting Blinken Says America ‘Will Make Sure Taiwan Has The Where To Defend Itself’ MORE If he thought the Republicans stole the election, McAuliffe said he wished the Supreme Court had “let them finish counting the votes.”
Republicans have also criticized McAuliffe for campaigning with former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Abrams, citing his claims that he lost his 2018 gubernatorial bid in Georgia as a result of voter suppression.