Commentary

Virginia gubernatorial candidates Glenn Youngkin, left, and former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe are locked in a tight race.

Virginia gubernatorial candidates Glenn Youngkin, left, and former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe are locked in a tight race. (Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images; Win McNamee / Getty Images)

 By Grant Atkinson  November 1, 2021 at 3:34pm

As Washington elites bleed into the northern portion of Virginia, the state had been trending toward a solid “blue state” designation. On the eve of the Virginia gubernatorial election, that trend looks like it may be reversing.

On Monday, the University of Virginia Center for Politics updated its “Sabato’s Crystal Ball” rating from “Leans Democratic” to “Leans Republican” for Tuesday’s gubernatorial election. According to its website, the Crystal Ball is “a comprehensive, nonpartisan political analysis and handicapping newsletter.”

While the newsletter predicts every U.S. Senate, House of Representatives and gubernatorial election, it is based out of Virginia, the very state where Republican candidate for governor Glenn Youngkin has apparently taken a lead over Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

The UVA Center for Politics reported President Joe Biden won 54 percent of the vote in Virginia during the 2020 presidential election. However, at least five recent polls show his approval rating over 10 points worse than that.

Fox had been the outlier among phone pollsters both nationally and in VA. This poll reverses that.

Biden job approval in VA

VCU (10/21) 41

Emerson (10/24) 41

Suffolk (10/24) 42

Monmouth (10/19) 43

Fox (10/13 vs 10/27) 51/43

Fox has an R+4 electorate vs Even in the last poll.

— dcg1114 (@dcg1114) October 28, 2021

The center admitted McAuliffe “will need some Biden disapprovers to win,” and that seems unlikely. As a former Virginia governor already, McAuliffe is an establishment politician who has aligned himself with Biden during his campaign.

Nationally, the FiveThirtyEight average shows Biden’s approval rating at 42.9 percent. That is a massive dip from a year ago, when he won 51 percent of the national popular vote.

This distinct drop in approval for Biden is an indictment of the leftist agenda, and it has almost certainly had an effect on Virginia’s gubernatorial race. The UVA Center for Politics said a narrow win for either candidate would represent “a bright red ‘check engine’ light” for Democrats.

Do you think Youngkin will win in Virginia?

In 2017, Democrat Ralph Northam won the governorship by 8.9 percentage points. That trend mostly continued during the 2018 midterms, where Democrats picked up six governorships and 41 House seats nationwide, the center reported.

The outlet said Virginia’s odd-year governor race is not always a great predictor of the next midterms. With that said, the party that has won in Virginia has gone on to gain governorships and House seats in three of the last four election cycles.

Given the current political climate, it would seem this year’s governor race could be a better predictor than most. If a Republican wins in a previously blue state like Virginia, it will likely signal an end to Biden’s progressive agenda.

Since Biden’s poll numbers are already tanking, a loss from a candidate he publicly endorsed would confirm the notion that Americans are not too keen on his policies. If that happens, Democratic candidates in 2022 would likely have to separate themselves from Biden to have any hope of victory.

Moderate Democrats ought to be scared of aligning themselves with Biden already given his leftist tendencies and abysmal approval ratings. If a Democrat loses in a state he was favored in, it will scare those candidates into running even further from Biden.

To be clear, Tuesday’s race could still go either way. According to the Real Clear Politics average, Youngkin holds a lead of 1.7 points, which is hardly a landslide.

Even if Youngkin does pull off a previously unlikely victory, that does not necessarily mean Republicans are headed for a “red wave” in 2022.

But Democrats are rightfully nervous about the trends they are seeing. According to WVEC-TV, McAuliffe canceled a campaign event in Virginia Beach on Monday, and that does not exactly project confidence.

While it is important not to read too far into Virginia’s results, they certainly can provide some insight into the state of American politics. In the event of a Youngkin victory, Biden will be feeling the heat.

Grant is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He has five years of writing experience with various outlets and enjoys covering politics and sports.

Grant is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He has five years of writing experience with various outlets and enjoys covering politics and sports.

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