Virginia governor’s race marks key electoral test for Biden

A hotly contested governor’s race in Virginia, the place voters head to the polls on Tuesday, is being intently watched by Republicans and Democrats as a key barometer of US voter sentiment a yr after Joe Biden was elected president.

The competition, which comes as Biden battles sinking job approval scores, pits Republican Glenn Youngkin, the previous chief government of personal fairness group Carlyle, towards Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Democratic fundraiser who served one time period as Virginia governor from 2013 to 2017.

It additionally takes place towards a backdrop of months of Democratic get together infighting on Capitol Hill over the legislative agenda of Biden, who shall be attending the COP26 UN local weather convention in Scotland when the polls shut.

McAuliffe was seen as an early frontrunner in Virginia, the place Biden defeated Donald Trump by a margin of greater than 10 factors final yr. However the newest opinion polls give Youngkin a slight edge heading into election day.

The FiveThirtyEight common of the latest polls present Youngkin main by one level, throughout the margin of error, over McAuliffe.

“I don’t assume anyone following this might be shocked if it went both means,” mentioned Larry Sabato, director of the College of Virginia Middle for Politics.

Virginia and New Jersey are the one two US states to carry governor’s races on this November’s “off yr” elections. Dozens of different governor’s seats, in addition to management of each homes of Congress, shall be up for grabs in subsequent yr’s midterms.

In New Jersey, Democratic incumbent Phil Murphy is broadly anticipated to safe re-election on Tuesday, with the newest statewide surveys displaying him main amongst registered and sure voters by a nine-point margin. The mayor’s race in New York Metropolis can be seen as a foregone conclusion, with Democrat Eric Adams heading in the right direction to defeat Republican Curtis Sliwa given town’s overwhelmingly Democratic voters.

However the “toss-up” Virginia race is being intently watched nationwide as a bellwether of the political temper 12 months after Biden defeated Trump, and with one yr to go till subsequent yr’s midterms.

The McAuliffe marketing campaign has tried to tie Youngkin, who has till now by no means run for political workplace, to Trump, who was fiercely unpopular in Virginia’s densely populated suburban areas exterior of Washington DC.

However Republicans are hoping that with the previous president out of the White Home and off social media, independents and one-time Republican voters who backed Biden will as soon as once more embrace the get together’s platform of decrease taxes and extra funding for police.

Youngkin has additionally tried to concentrate on a spread of “tradition battle” points, together with so-called essential race concept — a as soon as obscure educational discipline that examines the position of race in society. Republican lawmakers throughout the nation have in current months pushed laws to ban CRT from being taught in public colleges, whereas Democrats have accused Republicans of using racial dog-whistle techniques across the difficulty.

Youngkin has needed to stroll a political tightrope in an try to enchantment to extra reasonable conservative-leaning voters whereas on the identical time energising Trump’s loyal base of rightwing supporters. Trump has endorsed Youngkin not less than six occasions, and on Monday evening phoned right into a rally to assist the Republican ticket — an occasion Youngkin declined to attend.

Democrats say Youngkin has been two-faced in his campaigning, pointing to his typically mealy-mouthed feedback about Trump’s false claims that final yr’s election was stolen.

In an interview earlier this yr, Youngkin declined to say whether or not he would have licensed Joe Biden’s election had he been a member of Congress on January 6, when mobs of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol. However Youngkin shortly amended his feedback following a public backlash, telling a neighborhood tv community he “completely” would have voted to certify the consequence.

“He believes within the Massive Lie. That’s the most elementary factor about him not less than in my opinion, and within the view of numerous Democrats,” mentioned Matt Bennett, co-founder of centrist think-tank Third Manner, earlier than including: “However that isn’t the largest factor about him within the view of numerous Republicans.”

Bennett added of Tuesday’s contest: “It’s primarily a bounce ball. One candidate might be going to win by a tiny margin.”

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