Former President Barack Obama will campaign in Virginia for Democrat gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. Democrats have increasingly expressed concern that McAuliffe will not win in the race against Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin.
Obama will appear with McAuliffe in Richmond on October 23, becoming the next major Democratic political figure to announce an appearance for the former Virginia governor. Both first lady Jill Biden and former Georgia governor candidate Stacey Abrams have also announced appearances.
Recent polls show the race tightening between McAuliffe and Youngkin, a Virginia businessman who launched his gubernatorial campaign in January and won the Republican nomination in May.
One poll from Christopher Newport University showed McAuliffe with an edge over Youngkin, leading 49% to 45%, but within the margin of error. As Politico reported, one of McAuliffe’s recent fundraising emails asked recipients, “Are we blowing this?”
“Of course there’s a growing fear that we’ll lose this race and if we lost it would have huge ramifications,” a Democratic strategist said according to The Hill. “It would be a huge embarrassment for Democrats.”
Youngkin’s campaign has targeted McAuliffe’s positions on public schools and he says he wants to give parents a greater voice in their children’s education.
“Terry McAuliffe is scared because Virginians are roundly rejecting 40-year politician Terry McAuliffe’s plans to defund the police, strip parents of their rights to have a say in their children’s education, and to fire people who don’t follow his authoritarian vaccine mandates, so his response is to bring in more politicians to help draw a crowd larger than 12 people,” Macaulay Porte, a spokesman for Youngkin said in a statement to The Hill.
“Glenn Youngkin is an outsider focused on delivering for the people of Virginia and making the state the best place to live, work, and raise a family,” Porte added.
The race, now only weeks away, has been labeled as a “toss up” by the Cook Political Report — a non-partisan political analysis organization — which says may be linked to greater enthusiasm for Youngkin.
“That could change before November 2, much as it did in California in the closing weeks of the race,” Jessica Taylor, a Cook analyst said according to the Washington Times. “But Youngkin is far more difficult to make a boogeyman than replacement frontrunner Larry Elder was, whose gaffes and comments were golden gifts for Gov. Gavin Newsom.”
Recent comments seem to indicate that McAuliffe also might be worried that the unpopularity of President Joe Biden may affect his own bid for governor.
“We are facing a lot of headwinds from Washington, as you know,” the candidate told supporters on a video call. “The president is unpopular today, unfortunately, here in Virginia, so we have got to plow through.”
While the official election day is on November 2, many have already cast their ballots through early voting. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, 288,403 people have already voted.
The project noted that 179,457 did in-person early voting, while 108,946 had sent in ballots via mail. The total early voting is already more than 90,000 voters than in 2017.