A new poll released this morning shows what we’ve suspected for a while: Glenn Youngkin and Terry McAuliffe are tied in the race to become the next Governor of Virginia.
That poll, from Cygnal, has the two candidates tied at 48.3 percent among 816 likely voters. It also shows that while 35.8 percent of those polled identify as Republican, 42 percent identify as conservative.
It’s a huge loss for McAuliffe, who is being dragged down by angry parents and the public’s lack of faith in Joe Biden.
“Independent voters and parents of K-12 students are stampeding to support Republicans Glenn Youngkin, Winsome Sears, Jason Miyares and GOP state house candidates,” remarked pollster Brent Buchanan, CEO of Cygnal, a national polling firm ranked as most accurate. “In an interesting twist of political fate, voters under the age of 55 are strongly for Republicans.”
President Joe Biden is a millstone around the neck of Democratic candidates. For example, he won Virginia female voters in 2020 by 23 points but the generic Republican for General Assembly in 2021 is only losing female voters by 3 points and McAuliffe only leads them by 5 points. Youngkin has a 4 point higher “very favorable” rating while McAuliffe has a 4 point higher “very unfavorable” rating.
“It’s all been turned upside down in Virginia politics this year. Seventy-one percent of Independents view McAuliffe negatively, and more Democrats than Republicans are defecting to support the candidate of the other party,” Buchanan added.
Interestingly, 98% of 2020 Trump voters are sticking with Republicans while only 91% of Biden voters are sticking with Democrats.
McAuliffe has been banking on anti-Trump sentiment to carry him across the finish line. The swing of independents toward Youngkin doesn’t bode well not only for him, but for Democrats next year, and that’s something he and his party are aware of. Their only hope, which I’ve mentioned before, is to keep the issues national and drive up his key constituency in northern Virginia. But… that strategy does not appear to be working.
It doesn’t help that bringing up Trump on a near-constant basis does not seem to be endearing people to him. Even reporters are calling him out on it.
The Democrats are looking at data that says voters want to know about January 6 and are interpreting that to mean they think there was a valid insurrection attempt and not just a riot that trashed the Capitol and shut it down for a few hours. Their polling says this is the way to go. The Republicans are looking at polling and seeing what the Cygnal poll and others are showing – namely that parents are really concerned about what is affecting their kids in school.
Trump is not happening in their classrooms, but Critical Race Theory is. Trump didn’t shut down schools, but the teachers’ unions fought to keep them closed. The National School Board Association wrote a letter calling these concerned parents “domestic terrorists.” The list goes on, and it just makes those parents angry.
Someone sent me a photo earlier of an intersection in Virginia with signs saying “Youngkin = Trump.” That isn’t substantive messaging, and with a little over a week to go in this campaign, it’s a poor excuse for a closing message. Youngkin and the Republicans, though, are hammering away on the education issue. Because McAuliffe slept on that one for so long, he’s effectively lost any chance of winning independent parents back.
Instead, he is going to have to get his voters out on election day, and if the early voting rumors are true, he’s way behind on that front, too. McAuliffe has the advantage of running in a blue state and being more recognized, but that isn’t guaranteeing him anything at this point, and I think he’s starting to realize that. That is, in fact, probably why they are claiming voter suppression already.