All eyes are on the Commonwealth of Virginia, with early voting underway for their off-year elections. And with Election Day 2021 just 40 days away, new polling data shows that the gubernatorial race at the top of the ballot will be a highly competitive contest for the first time in years.
Recent elections at the federal and state level have seen once-reliably red Virginia turn a deeper and deeper shade of blue. For example, President George W. Bush was the last Republican to carry Virginia at the presidential level in 2004; the late legendary Senator John Warner was the last Republican to be elected to a U.S. Senate seat in 2002, and Bob McDonnell was the last GOP candidate to be elected Governor of Virginia in 2009.
But according to new numbers, 2021 could mark the end of Democrat dominance in the Old Dominion.
The recent survey I commissioned pollster Kellyanne Conway to conduct on behalf of The Presidential Coalition shows Democrat gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe leading his Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin by a small margin of just 46 percent to 42 percent - within the poll’s margin of error.
Mr. McAuliffe is a career politician and political operative for Bill and Hillary Clinton, who previously served as Virginia’s chief executive from 2014 - 2018. Mr. Youngkin, by contrast, is a successful businessman, political outsider, and first-time candidate who is looking to break up the disastrous Democrat one-party rule that has infected Virginia in recent years. Mr. McAuliffe, conversely, is running for his old job again as a placeholder while he plots a presidential run sometime down the road.
Every student of politics knows that when an extremely well-known former statewide officeholder is sitting at just 46 percent, there’s trouble on the horizon - and the data shows there’s good reason for it. When we asked 700 likely voters whether Virginia was on the right track or wrong track, 47 percent said right track, and 46 percent said wrong track. This is bad news for Mr. McAuliffe and other liberals running for office in 2021 because Democrats are currently in power in Virginia, and voters are clearly not happy with their poor job performance.
The poll also reveals that President Joe Biden and the radical socialist agenda the left is attempting to impose on America is a drag for Democrats on the ballot in the Commonwealth from top to bottom. Even though Mr. Biden carried Virginia by a sizeable ten-point margin in the presidential election just 10 months ago - 54 percent to 44 percent - his approval rating in Virginia today is just 49 approve compared to 48 disapprove. To make matters worse, when digging a little deeper into the poll, only 28 percent “strongly approve” of Mr. Biden, as opposed to a whopping 42 percent who “strongly disapprove.”
These numbers indicate growing enthusiasm among Republicans looking to make a statement against Mr. Biden and the reckless Democrat agenda, as well as a clear enthusiasm gap for Mr. Biden among the liberal Democrat base. This is the stark reality that’s keeping Mr. McAuliffe and other Virginia Democrats up at night. A similar feeling was developing at this time in 2009 - the last time a Republican captured the governor’s mansion in Richmond - on account of growing distaste for the left-wing agenda of taxpayer-funded bailouts and socialized medicine that Barack Obama and Joe Biden were pushing during their first year in office.
In 2021 - Mr. Biden’s first year in office - it’s starting to feel like “déjà vu all over again,” to quote the late Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra. In just eight months in office, the incompetent administration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris has been dominated by the many crises they’ve created. Whether it’s the border crisis, inflation crisis, crime crisis, Afghanistan crisis, or mandate crisis, the American people are getting ready to make a statement about the disaster that’s unfolding in Joe Biden’s America.
The survey data indicates that voters in Virginia have significant problems with controversial issues the left is advocating. For example, only 27 percent support teaching the destructive critical race theory in public schools, while a commanding 57 percent oppose the so-called woke curriculum. Additionally, 72 percent would be less likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by an organization that supports defunding the police - an eye-popping statistic for a Democrat in Mr. McAuliffe’s position. And at the federal level, by a margin of 51 percent to 41 percent, Virginians oppose the irresponsible $3.5 trillion socialist wish list legislation that Washington Democrats are pushing.
These telling numbers should give Mr. Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer pause.
At the end of the day, this poll gives Virginia Republicans reason to be optimistic about their prospects this November, but there’s a long way to go and a lot of hard work to do. Until then, make sure to get out and vote for Glenn Youngkin and all Republicans running to end one-party rule in Virginia.
• David N. Bossie is president of Citizens United, and he served as deputy campaign manager for Donald J. Trump for President.