Inside Elections updated its Virginia gubernatorial race rating Wednesday, shifting from Likely Democratic to Lean Democratic.
“Former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe has had a consistent advantage over Republican Glenn Youngkin in the commonwealth, but some Democratic strategists are concerned about President Joe Biden’s drag on the race and about the lack of urgency on the Democratic side,” Inside Elections’ Nathan Gonzales wrote. “The public polling points to a very competitive race. McAuliffe is ahead of Youngkin by three points in both the FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics polling averages, neither of which have changed much in the last six weeks.”
The change comes five days after the Cook Political Report also shifted its rating to show a more competitive race. Citing Republican enthusiasm, Cook moved from Lean Democratic to Tossup.
Gonzales wrote that McAuliffe still had the edge, but speculated about what Youngkin’s win would mean.
“Even though the circumstances in Virginia wouldn’t automatically transfer to congressional races next year, it’s clear that Biden’s standing is having an impact on McAuliffe, and that dynamic would be relevant for the midterms,” he wrote.”A Youngkin victory would become a blueprint for the suburbs for GOP candidates around the country by emphasizing crime, critical race theory, and coronavirus-related mandates as a way to get back voters who rejected Trump and the GOP in recent cycles.”
CNalysis Director Chaz Nuttycombe also rates the race at Lean Democratic.
“I think there could have been an argument for Likely given the 2020 presidential results, but then we actually had polls come out. I’ve had this race Lean Democratic the entire time,” he told The Virginia Star. “I think the argument for Likely Democratic is still out there, but it’s weaker than where it was a few months ago.”
On Tuesday, gubernatorial candidates Glenn Youngkin and Terry McAuliffe held their second and final debate. In the debate, Youngkin stumbled over a response to a question about mandatory measles vaccines and COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Later, McAuliffe said he didn’t “think parents should be telling schools what to teach,” and the Youngkin campaign turned that into an ad. Nuttycombe thought Youngkin’s vaccine response might be more significant than McAuliffe’s school statement.
“Honestly, the debate doesn’t do anything. This isn’t a presidential debate where you’ve got a large audience watching,” Nuttycombe said. “The only thing that they’re going to do is, you know, they’ll then take clips and make ads out of it.”
Third-party candidate Princess Blanding interrupted the debate briefly.
“I don’t think it’s really going to get her any more vote share than before,” Nuttycombe said. “It got her very online for a little bit, a lot of election accounts were sharing that moment.”
He added, “I would say that was the most interesting moment of the debate, to be quite honest, and that just goes to show you that this race isn’t really going to move based on [the debate.]”
– – –
Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Nathan Gonzalez” by Inside Elections w/ Nathan L. Gonzales. Background Photo “Virginia State Capitol” by Doug Kerr CC BY-SA 2.0.