Virginia will elect a woman of color for the first time as lieutenant governor

Voters cast their ballots at an early voting location in Fairfax, Virginia, on Saturday, October 30.
Voters solid their ballots at an early voting location in Fairfax, Virginia, on Saturday, October 30. (Eric Lee/Bloomberg/Getty Photos)

If Terry McAuliffe wins, Democrats will take the victory as validation {that a} state that has trended blue over the past decade nonetheless stands behind President Biden’s agenda and towards Republicans, even when former President Trump shouldn’t be on the poll.

Historical past shouldn’t be on Democrats’ facet: Because the Seventies, the winner of Virginia’s off-year gubernatorial election has almost all the time come from the social gathering in opposition to the White Home. The one exception was in 2013, when McAuliffe gained his first gubernatorial time period a yr after then-President Barack Obama gained reelection.

However even when McAuliffe wins a good race, the outcome might spell warning indicators for Democrats in Washington, given Biden’s 10-point victory there simply final yr and the truth that the social gathering in energy typically loses seats within the subsequent midterms.

Democrats had hoped McAuliffe would be capable of run on a efficiently handed infrastructure bundle from the Biden administration, however continuous delays on Capitol Hill and Democratic infighting made the prospect of a deal earlier than Nov. 2 unlikely, one thing that McAuliffe has used to lambast Congress.

“I say: Do your job,” he mentioned earlier final month. “You bought elected to Congress. We within the states are determined for this infrastructure cash. … We’d like assist out right here within the states, and other people elected you to do your job.”

And whereas he has publicly argued the invoice is extra necessary for the folks of Virginia than for his political fortunes, his aides and advisers have privately fearful that dysfunction in Washington might spill into their race, particularly within the vote-rich Northern Virginia suburbs.

For Glenn Youngkin, a win would reverberate far past Virginia — the place a Republican has not gained statewide in 12 years — and ship the GOP a jolt of momentum heading into 2022. And whereas every marketing campaign is totally different and Youngkin, who got here into the race as largely a clean slate with limitless cash, is a singular determine, a doable win would validate his technique of lauding Trump at occasions whereas additionally holding him at arm’s size.

“No matter whether or not or not he wins … it appears like Youngkin is displaying Republicans that they do not must be wedded to Trump,” mentioned Doug Heye, a Republican marketing consultant who beforehand served as the highest spokesperson on the Republican Nationwide Committee. “Positive, they do not need to cross him and alienate his base. However, particularly with Biden’s low numbers and McAuliffe’s vulnerabilities on issues like training, Republicans can play on Democrats’ subject. That is step one in placing Trump within the rearview mirror.”

Whereas there are some doubts amongst Republicans that the technique might work in federal races, Heye says that as a result of “all politics are nationwide now,” points that had been as soon as hyper-local “can be talked about up and down the poll.”

The 2021 races are additionally the primary time that voters have the chance to solid their ballots early with out an excuse for having to take action after the Democratic-led state modified election legal guidelines. In accordance with the Virginia Division of Elections, greater than 734,000 Virginians have solid ballots already.

Conversations with McAuliffe and Youngkin supporters have proven a similarity in how every is approaching the race: Each are fearful that wins by their opponents would flip Virginia right into a vastly totally different form of place. Democrats have advised CNN repeatedly {that a} Youngkin win would flip Virginia right into a Republican-dominated state like Georgia, Texas or Florida, whereas Republicans have overtly fearful {that a} McAuliffe win would flip the commonwealth into California.

If McAuliffe wins, “we’re going to head down the trail we’re already taking place with Biden,” mentioned Wanda Schweiger, a 61-year-old Youngkin supporter. “And it’s a sinking ship.”

Stacey Abrams, a former gubernatorial candidate in Georgia and a voting rights activist, made that case on to voters over the weekend.

“If you wish to work out what might occur to you if you aren’t getting out and vote, decide up a newspaper that talks about Georgia. If you wish to know what occurs in 9 days, if we do not get out and vote, taking a look at what’s happening in Texas,” she mentioned. “If you wish to know what occurs to Virginia, if we do not vote, in the event you do not prove on November the 2nd, then bear in mind what you felt like in November of 2016.”

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