OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Virginia will elect a new governor next week – and Republicans appear to be in a strong position to flip the state Red.
Democrat candidate Terry McAuliffe, the former governor of the state, is behind significantly in a brand new Fox News poll.
No Republican has won a statewide race in Virginia since 2009 and Joe Biden won the state in the 2020 presidential election.
Despite Biden campaigning for McAuliffe, Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin has burst ahead in a recent poll just five days before the election.
Youngkin is polling at 53 percent among likely voters, to McAuliffe’s measly 45 percent.
Fox News reported:
Among the larger pool of registered voters, it’s a one-point race: McAuliffe 47 percent vs. Youngkin 48 percent. Two weeks ago, McAuliffe led among registered voters by 11 points, 52-41 percent.
What changed? GOP enthusiasm. The race is largely focused on education and this has energized Republicans, as 79 percent of Youngkin supporters are “extremely” interested in the election compared to 69 percent of McAuliffe supporters.
Democratic pollster Chris Anderson is sounding the alarm.
“With the race essentially tied among the full registered voter universe, McAuliffe could still pull this off,” says Anderson, who conducts the Fox News survey along with Republican Daron Shaw. “But it would take something big to ignite enthusiasm for McAuliffe’s candidacy and a massively effective get out the vote effort.”
The Fox News report added:
Youngkin promises to ban the teaching of critical race theory on his first day in office, while McAuliffe denies CRT is even taught in Virginia schools. In addition, McAuliffe is still explaining his comment in the final debate that parents shouldn’t “be telling schools what they should teach.”
The survey, released Thursday, finds movement in the views of parents. They backed McAuliffe by 10 points two weeks ago. Now, they go for Youngkin by 14. On the question of which candidate they trust to handle education, Youngkin’s previous 1-point edge among parents has widened to 12.
Among parents, Youngkin has dads to thank. Moms back him by just two points overall, and they trust both candidates equally on education. For dads, those numbers are +23 and +21 for Youngkin respectively.
On the economy, more voters trust Youngkin by 11 points, while the candidates tied previously.
Youngkin also comes out on top on handling crime (by 12 points).
Youngkin is the pick among White evangelical Christians (+63 points), Whites without a college degree (+40), gun owner households (+32), and men (+16).
“Education is a top issue, which is usually good news for the Democrats since they are typically seen as more capable in that domain,” says Shaw. “But Youngkin has turned the issue on its head so it’s about curriculum and parent involvement rather than spending. The result is the GOP is currently preferred on perhaps the critical issue for this election.”