The Virginia governor’s race between Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin, a wealthy newcomer, and Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a former Virginia governor, is now a ''toss-up,'' according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
The state has steadily trended blue over the past decade, but polls show Youngkin as a viable contender.
A recent University of Mary Washington and Research America Inc. survey released Wednesday showed the Trump-backed Youngkin leading McAuliffe, 48 percent to 43 percent. Another poll released Tuesday also showed Youngkin, the ex-CEO of private equity giant The Carlyle Group, with a narrow lead over McAuliffe, 46 percent to 42 percent.
''The reports of the end of Virginia’s status as a swing state are greatly exaggerated,'' Stephen J. Farnsworth, director of UMW’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies, said in a news post on the UMW site. ''The large number of undecided voters at this stage demonstrates that either major party candidate can become the next governor of Virginia.''
The race is a litmus test for the broader suburban battlefield looming in the 2022 midterms, according to CNN.
"If you took the results of what happened in Virginia in 2017 and spread it across the country, that was 2018," Democrat consultant Bradley Komar, who served as Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's campaign manager in 2017, told the news outlet. "So all eyes will be on Virginia to see if we are holding our gains in the suburbs. Are we motivating our voters without Trump in the White House?"
Republicans last won statewide office in Virginia in 2009 when Bob McDonnell became governor. McAuliffe defeated Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the 2013 gubernatorial contest and current Gov. Ralph Northam defeated Ed Gillespie in 2017 by 9 points.
''This election looks very different from those of the past four years, when Democrats could win by substantial margins by just focusing the electorate on President Trump,'' Farnsworth, of the University of Mary Washington, noted. ''He is not president anymore, and recent Democratic advantages in statewide contests seem to have departed with him.''
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