Virginia’s Gubernatorial Race: 2022 Litmus Test?

  • by:
  • Source: UncoverDC
  • 09/19/2023

Virginia's gubernatorial race is heating up with the Nov. 2 election rapidly approaching. Former one-term Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) faces former Carlyle Group CEO Glenn Youngkin (R). The race could serve as a litmus test for turn-out on both sides, a foreshadowing of 2022. Around 6 million of 8.5 million Virginians are registered to vote. Both candidates report huge fundraising numbers.

Gubernatorial Race/Virginia/McAuliffe v Youngkin

On one side, national attention is being drawn to Loudoun County in Virginia, ground zero for parents who are proudly wearing their newly acquired "domestic terrorist" label from the NSBA and ensuing edicts to investigate from Attorney General Merrick Garland. Youngkin has positioned himself squarely in their camp, with a "$1 million, multi-faceted ad strategy" targeting his opponent.

Free to Learn Action, a 501(c)4 tax-exempt organization that seeks to remove politics from school curricula, runs the ads. The advertisement alludes to one of the more alarming incidents that actually took place in Loudoun County, the alleged sexual assault by a transgender boy of a 15-year-old girl in a bathroom at school.

Reportedly, Terry McAuliffe aggressively pushed Critical Race Theory(CRT) in schools when he was Governor, per journalist Christopher Rufo. Rufo provides documents from 2015 that allegedly prove he "instructed public schools to 'embrace critical race theory' in order to 're-engineer attitudes and belief systems.'”

The Black community could play a make-or-break role in McAuliffe's chances to win, depending on turn-out. McAuliffe's "Souls to the Polls" campaign, targeting early voters, has him visiting Black churches to get out the vote in the community. His campaign says he has visited "60-plus Black churches." NPR reports:

"Black voters have put white Democrats over the top in Virginia elections before. Consider that in 2013, McAuliffe lost the white vote by 20 points, according to exit polling. But he won more than 90% of Black voters. They made up 20% of the electorate and it was enough to help McAuliffe to a 3-point victory."

McAuliffe wants to leverage that in 2020, nine out of ten in the Black community voted for Biden in the national race. Per MSN, "Black voters made up 11% of the national electorate in 2020." Biden allegedly won easily in the state of Virginia, but his sinking approval numbers could affect their turn-out.

Virginia/Biden 2020

Election Data analyst Seth Keshel believes, conservatively, there were an estimated 217k excess votes for Biden in the 2020 race—indicating a much closer margin of Victory. Prince William, Loudoun, and Fairfax Counties will figure heavily in the results in future elections because that is allegedly where many of those excess votes came from in 2020.

The people who follow races like this understand why McAuliffe has assembled a star-studded line-up of prominent Democrats to bolster his slim lead at the moment. Between Biden's slipping approval ratings, and in some ways, therefore his own, he needs big guns.

The Bidens, Obama and Stacey Abrams are actively campaigning on his behalf. Vice President Kamala Harris' recorded a video singing his praises and the video has been distributed to "300-plus churches statewide." Obama says Youngkin and the right are wasting their time on "phony, trumped-up culture wars," referring to those protesting CRT in the schools.

On multiple occasions, McAuliffe has either stated or even approved of policy that favors  CRT. In a debate with Youngkin, McAuliffe stated, "[I don't] think parents should be telling schools what to teach." Youngkin, during the debate, responded, “You believe school systems should tell children what to do. I believe parents should be in charge of their kids’ education.”

McAuliffe later doubled down on local TV, stating, “You don’t want parents coming in in every different school district saying this is what should be taught here and this is what should be taught there.”

In fact, McAuliffe denies that CRT is even taught in Virginia, declaring it is "racist" and "a dog whistle" on multiple occasions. He said the talk about CRT in the schools is nothing more than a "Glenn Youngkin plan to divide people." McAuliffe also says he is being "taken out of context."

More recent polls show Glenn Youngkin pulling ahead of his opponent. Monmouth currently has them in a neck-and-neck race. The graphic below shows the partisan engagement enthusiasm gap currently.

Virginia Race/Monmouth

Youngkin has been traversing the state on his bus tour.  He has focused heavily on parents' right to advocate for their children's education, lowering taxes through eliminating the grocery and gas tax, and public safety. His campaign boasts of a candidate that is "pro-family" and "pro-life." Youngkin was endorsed by former President Trump in May. Some say the endorsement may be a liability. McAuliffe has sought to use the Trump endorsement against Youngkin in his campaign.

Virginia has arguably been the epicenter of parental involvement and protest concerning the schools is a positive for Youngkin's campaign. He has consistently advocated for parental involvement and the safety of students with his latest push to reinstate school resource officers in the Arlington school system.

Glenn Youngkin/Maria Basileo | Culpeper Times

McAuliffe has emphasized pro-choice in his campaign. Per reporting by CNBC:

"Three of McAuliffe’s most expensive ads, which cost from $510,000 to $922,000 to produce and run, have attacked Youngkin for his abortion stance. They are among the former Governor’s most aired ads on broadcast or cable television, with each airing over 1,100 times, according to AdImpact data. A poll released Wednesday from Monmouth University shows that 17% of likely voters in Virginia see abortion as one of the most important issues in deciding their vote for Governor."

His record speaks for itself. A strong pro-choice advocate—he also supports marriage equality, vetoed photo IDs for absentee ballots, granted 200,000 convicted felons the right to vote in 2016, supports diversity and equity issues and is against school choice.

McAuliffe For Governor

Early voting began on Sept. 17. There is also early voting available on Sundays if a precinct chooses to adopt it. According to an article by Politico:

"It's the first gubernatorial election in which both in-person early voting and no-excuse mail voting are available for all Virginians, after the Democratic-controlled state government passed a law last year scrapping a requirement that previously required voters have a valid excuse to do so."

Steve Bannon's show on Thursday put the race in perspective. His guest, John Fredericks of America's Voice, believes it is a real litmus test for the nation and upcoming elections as far out as 2022 and 2024:

"Right now, said Fredericks, if you win Virginia, you win the nation because it's going to send a message not only nationally but internationally to all Democrats, the mainstream media, the fake news if Glenn Youngkin [wins] and they take the House of Delegates in Virginia, it is the precursor to an annihilation of mammoth proportions in the mid-terms. It stops the Biden agenda in its tracks."

Fredericks encouraged people to vote early "because they can't steal your vote." He also explained the laws in Virginia for absentee voting require the last four of one's social security number to vote—and one large county has chosen to ignore those laws. Fairfax county, he says, decided "to waive that requirement." Governor Northam has yet to deny or approve the exception.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) sued the county, "saying at least 339 ballot applications were accepted without the required identification numbers."

“An absentee ballot application that omits statutorily required information—including the last four digits of the applicant’s Social Security number—is not properly completed,” the lawsuit charges.

Christian Adams, president and general counsel at PILF, asserted:

"When you start suspending rules in some counties, you run the risk that people don’t accept the results. You can’t change the rules in the middle of the game, and that’s what Fairfax is doing."

Fairfax County denied having violated the law.

Virginia Democrats are also seeking to "waive the witness signature requirement for absentee ballots cast by mail for next month’s statewide elections," according to The Federalist:

"It is Virginia LAW that a voter’s signature on an absentee ballot be accompanied by a witness signature, attesting to the voter’s eligibility to vote in the election. But nine out of ten Board members want that law suspended in Fairfax County during the current election season, says Catherine Trauernicht of The Bull Elephant."

The law was temporarily suspended in Virginia during the 2020 General Election, as was the case in many states because of pandemic-related emergency orders. Governor Northam suspended the emergency order on June 30. 64,000+ absentee ballots have already been mailed, requiring signature witnesses as of mid-October.

Fairfax County is still under a State of (COVID-19) Emergency Declaration, according to Board Chairman Jeffrey McKay, even though COVID-19 cases in the County are plummeting. Fairfax County is the largest county in the state and a Democrat stronghold.

Virginia Counties/Top 5/

Democrats in the Virginia House of Delegates hold a slim 55-45 majority. According to the Prince William Times, "With eight seats in Prince William County up for grabs, a few wins could decide which party takes majority control in Richmond next year."

Guy Benson's Townhall Tipsheet does an interesting analysis of the race and the types of voters who need to come out and/or switch parties to help Youngkin win in this largely Democrat-run state. Republicans must come out to vote on election day for Youngkin to win, but he also needs voters like these:

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