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Virginia’s “Toss-Up” Governor’s Race Could Be the Most Pivotal Election of the Year

“The nation’s eyes are on Virginia,” Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin told a crowd Saturday, in the course of the last weekend of campaigning earlier than the state’s election on Tuesday. “And as Virginia goes, so goes the nation.” Democratic candidate (and former governor) Terry McAuliffe, with whom Youngkin is locked in a close to useless warmth, additionally made his closing message to voters a nationwide one. “[Donald] Trump needs to win right here so he can announce for president for 2024,” he stated Sunday. “That’s the stakes of this election. He needs to get himself off the mat.”

The previous president, who has endorsed Youngkin, misplaced the state by ten factors final yr. Whereas Youngkin has been careful to not tie himself too carefully to Trump, his marketing campaign has harnessed distinctly Trumpy cultural points, particularly about education, serving to to impress a coalition of so-called dad and mom for Youngkin with attacks on race-focused curriculum adjustments and COVID precautions. “He’s turned our faculty boards into battle zones,” McAuliffe stated over the weekend, per the New York Instances, which concluded in conversations with voters “that many Virginians view this election as one thing symbolically better than a face-off between two candidates for governor.”

Tensions are excessive forward of Election Day in Virginia, a state Democrats have held for greater than a  decade and whose present gubernatorial contest is seen as a bellwether for the 2022 midterms—and an unexpectedly murky one at that. “Nobody is aware of,” certainly one of McAuliffe’s advisers, requested for a prediction about Tuesday, told Politico. “It’s a toss-up.” FiveThirtyEight had Youngkin with a slight lead on Monday morning. Each candidates spent the weekend criss-crossing the state to get out the vote, with McAuliffe on Saturday touring “greater than 120 miles” to “eight stops in six cities” throughout an 11-hour interval, the Instances experiences, noting whereas McAuliffe “hustled via sparsely attended occasions from morning to nighttime,” Youngkin “greeted crowds of greater than 1,000.”

According to Axios, a lot of the main target ought to be on Loudoun County, a spot some 40 miles exterior of D.C. that’s seen as “floor zero” for the GOP tradition battle points which have bolstered Youngkin’s prospects. With its fast-growing inhabitants, the county can also be “a diversifying space key to Democratic success” in the remainder of the state. Loudoun, the wealthiest county within the U.S., is reportedly anticipated to go to McAuliffe even when Youngkin wins general, “however insiders are watching how a lot [Youngkin] can reverse the large features Dems have made within the county up to now three main elections,” Axios experiences. Youngkin assured reporters over the weekend that “we’re going to make some actually shocking features throughout the commonwealth.” 

It was in Loudoun County the place Politico’s Playbook—alongside “an Allbirds-clad,” Halloween-parade campaigning McAuliffe—obtained “a way of how on edge everyone seems to be in American politics just a few days earlier than an important election of 2021.” On Sunday, simply after the parade, a Youngkin supporter reportedly posted up in entrance of McAuliffe’s marketing campaign bus “screaming apparently unintelligibly, about Loudoun County faculties”; there was some concern amongst McAuliffe staffers that the person is likely to be armed. (McAuliffe was on the bus conducting an interview.) Staffers known as police to the scene, who talked the Youngkin supporter down. “Ultimately it was nothing,” Politico wrote. “However we’ve hardly ever been out on the path when there was such a heightened sense of alarm about the potential of an interplay between a marketing campaign and an opponent’s supporter escalating to one thing extra sinister.”

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