Virginians voted Tuesday in an extremely close race for governor that could indicate whether Republicans or Democrats will have an advantage in the US Congressional elections next year.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a party member who served as governor from 2014 to 2018, has seen his lead over Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin evaporate in opinion polls in recent weeks.
A McAuliffe loss in Virginia, which Democratic President Joe Biden won by a double-digit margin over then-Republican President Donald Trump last year, would set off alarms for National Democrats.
“We all knew from the start that it was going to be a close race,” Biden said of Virginia’s pick on Tuesday, predicting McAuliffe would win. “The bad year is always unpredictable.”
Cultural issues have dominated the race for governor, with Youngkin promising to give parents more control over how public schools handle race, gender and COVID-19 protocols, and McAuliffe promising to protect access to abortion and voting rights. .
Polls leading up to Election Day showed Youngkin closed the gap with McAuliffe by appealing to independent voters, a group that was alienated in 2020 by Trump’s style of politics but was more drawn to Youngkin’s affable manner, despite McAuliffe’s attempts to link Youngkin to the former president.
“Comparing him to President Trump didn’t really hit me,” said Jacob McMinn, a program manager for a defense contractor, after casting his vote for the Republican in Fairfax, outside Washington.
McMinn, 38, said he supported Youngkin’s view that schools should not teach “critical race theory” – a law school concept that holds that racism is ingrained in American laws and institutions and that the legacies of slavery and segregation have created an uneven playing field for African Americans. .
The schools say they are not including theory in elementary and middle school curricula, but are trying to respond to the needs of an increasingly diverse American population.
Youngkin’s strategy could offer a roadmap for Republicans trying to attract suburban moderates in the 2022 election, where control of Congress and the fate of Biden’s agenda will be at stake, without alienating the hardliners. who backed Trump.
But Trump’s role in the race was still on the minds of many voters after the former president endorsed Youngkin.
“I had Trump supporting him and I’m kind of out the door,” said Alicia Prieto, 57, after voting for McAuliffe in Fairfax. The computer programmer said she thought McAuliffe would do a better job funding public education.
The winner will succeed Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who is prohibited by Virginia’s term limits law from serving two consecutive terms.
The contest is one of many contests and issues facing American voters on Tuesday as they grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustice, and rising consumer prices.
In the race for the other governor, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, is the favorite to win a second term against Republican Jack Ciattarelli, a former state legislator.
Dozens of major cities in the United States will also elect mayors, including Atlanta, Minneapolis, Boston, Miami, Cincinnati, Detroit and Seattle. In New York, Brooklyn Borough President and former Police Captain Eric Adams, a Democrat, is expected to become the city’s second black mayor, unless Republican Curtis Sliwa, who leads the street patrol. Guardian Angels civilians, you can pull off a shocking surprise.
A year and a half after George Floyd, a black man, was killed by a white cop, Minneapolis voters will decide whether to approve a measure that would replace the police department with a new public safety agency.
The Virginia gubernatorial race has long been seen as a crucial barometer of the president’s national standing, and a preview of the following year’s midterm elections.
Biden’s approval ratings have fallen to the lowest level during his presidency, according to the latest Reuters / Ipsos national poll, conducted last Wednesday and Thursday.
Youngkin, 54, a political newcomer and former private equity executive, campaigned as an advocate for parents who want to have a greater say in their children’s education, capitalizing on anger among some conservatives who believe schools are imposing plans. divisive study in the name of diversity.
Speaking in Richmond on Monday, Youngkin promised he would usher in “a Virginia where our government stops telling us what to do all the time.”
McAuliffe, 64, has tried to link Youngkin to Trump throughout, lashing out at the Republican for initially hesitating to say whether Biden won the election legitimately.
While Youngkin acknowledged Biden’s victory, he called for an audit of Virginia’s voting machines, a move that led Democrats to accuse him of validating Trump’s unfounded election conspiracy theories.
Trump reiterated his support for Youngkin in a statement Monday, saying, “He has had my full and complete backing for many months!”
McAuliffe responded to Trump’s statement on Twitter.
“He’s doing everything he can to win this race because he knows Glenn will advance his MAGA agenda here at VA,” McAuliffe wrote of Trump, referring to his tagline, Make America Great Again.
Youngkin has walked a fine line with Trump, mostly avoiding arguing about the former president while campaigning on issues like public safety and education that appeal to both moderates and Trump supporters.
But without Trump at the top of the ballot, it’s unclear whether invoking his name will be as effective for Democrats.
Both Biden and former President Barack Obama started the campaign with McAuliffe.