OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Democrats are getting increasingly nervous about the governor’s race in Virginia, as their party’s candidate, Terry McAuliffe, has seen his early lead lapse completely in the race against GOP businessman Glenn Youngkin.
“A creeping sense of worry among Democrats about the Virginia governor’s race spilled into the open on Wednesday, after the release of a new Monmouth University poll showing former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe deadlocked with Republican Glenn Youngkin less than two weeks before Election Day,” Politico reported Thursday, citing a Monmouth University survey.
“And the panic may be a good thing, some of them say,” the news site note further, adding that what’s happening in Washington is likely taking its toll in neighboring Virginia:
The Monmouth poll was the latest in a series of data points to increase concern about McAuliffe’s prospects. While other recent polls in Virginia have shown McAuliffe staked to narrow leads, President Joe Biden’s national ratings have slid into majority disapproval of his tenure, with his agenda still stalled in Congress. Democrats’ internal polling elsewhere is similarly bleak, as they look to keep their slim majorities in Washington. And turnout among early and mail voters, which Democrats often look to as a barometer of enthusiasm, paints an uncertain picture two weeks out.
Democrats are using the news to shake up support among an electorate that might not be particularly enthused about showing up on election day, as was the case last month during Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recall election; he, too, was slipping into potentially dangerous territory before managing to generate a high turnout and beat back GOP challenger Larry Elder.
“There’s going to be panic. There’s going to be consternation. But what I would tell donors and operatives is, ‘You should be worried, so pay attention and put resources into this,’” Tim Lim, a longtime Democratic strategist, told Politico. “The same thing happened in California. Once Democrats started paying attention and keyed into it, the numbers shifted. The same can happen in Virginia.”
As such, the plan is to bring in some political heavy-hitters to vouch for and campaign with McAuliffe. Last week, first lady Jill Biden came to the state as did Georgia voting rights activist Stacey Abrams.
“Vice President Kamala Harris and musician Dave Matthews, returning to his old stomping grounds in Charlottesville, are campaigning in the state over the next five days alone,” Politico noted.
“This is about bringing in names they know to remind them to get to the polls,” Jared Leopold, a veteran Democratic strategist who previously worked for Virginia state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, who lost to McAuliffe in the primary.
“Terry’s gonna call through every name in his Rolodex to see which Democratic stars he can get to which swing counties,” he continued.
Also last week, the McAuliffe campaign released a new television ad featuring former President Barack Obama, said to still be popular among Democratic voters.
Here’s what the party’s up against, according to Politico:
The new poll also continued to show Republican voters are noticeably more enthusiastic about voting in this year’s election. Democrats say that while they’re confident about the longer-term trends in the state — Republicans haven’t won a statewide race since 2009 — the party could be in danger this year if it can’t energize its voters.
I think we’re on track to be a blue state for years and years, because the growth here makes that inevitable. But until then, we have a lot of suburban voters who are very swingy and they decide these elections, up and down the ticket,” Kiera Hall, executive director of Commonwealth Forward, a organization that works to elect Democrats to state legislatures.
“We will win this if folks turn out … but everyone should be very worried,” she added.