Virginia Governor’s Race has both sides of the political spectrum paying attention

Foreshadowing next year’s national election, this race is seen as a bellwether.


Cliff Owen/AP Photo

Terry McAuliffe (L) and Glenn Youngkin are locked in close race that may foreshadow coming national races.

Following the 2020 election and the Democratic coalition’s narrow political margin, the race for Virginia governor will foreshadow the Democratic party’s future electoral success. The polls show an incredibly close race in Virginia, but when voters go out to the polls on November 2nd, will they vote for Democrat Terry McAullife, or Republican Glenn Youngkin?

The Democratic nominee for the race is Terry McAuliffe, the former governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018. Although state law prevented McAuliffe from being elected twice consecutively, McAuliffe is back, running on a basis of COVID-19 recovery, voting rights, and addressing climate change, among other policies. McAuliffe is an experienced Democratic politician, having been chairman of the Democratic National Convention. The Democrat has been criticized in recent weeks for inflating COVID-19 numbers, and leaving a TV interview midway through, among a plethora of other accusations, which has dragged him down noticeably in the polls.
On the other side is Republican Glenn Youngkin, a first-time candidate with a background in business. In fact, this gubernatorial race funded by his vast personal wealth is his first major political campaign. Youngkin’s campaign focuses on cutting taxes, lowering government regulations on businesses, and banning critical race theory (CRT) from Virginia’s public school curriculum (although CRT is not prevalent in Virginian public schools). Youngkin has been criticized for his fear-mongering surrounding CRT, and for avoiding questions regarding his stance on abortion.

This graph shows the race tightening as it enters the final days. (Wason Center Poll / October 27, 2021(Wason Center))

The race has attracted the attention of many big names, with Terry McAuliffe being backed up by President Joe Biden, Former President Barack Obama, and Democratic political activist Stacey Abrams, among others. Meanwhile, Youngkin has been endorsed by Former President Donald Trump, although he is working to court both pro-Trump, and anti-Trump voters simultaneously.

In the end, the race comes down to two main issues: abortion, and public education. Abortion in particular is a very contentious issue, with the extremely controversial Texas Heartbeat Act on the frontline of contemporary politics. Either way, the winner of this race will not only be important to Virginia, but to Democratic success going into the midterms.