Five key indicators have turned into bright spots for Republican Glenn Youngkin’s gubernatorial campaign in the final stretch of the Virginia race.
Independents, parents concerned about education, 2020 Biden voters, the Republican base, and Chinese coronavirus are among the positive factors with which the Youngkin campaign is riding into Tuesday’s election.
Those indicators have forced Politico to admit that Youngkin “could become the first Republican in a dozen years to win a statewide race in Virginia.”
1. Independent Voters
The first metric is independent voters. Politico acknowledged independent voters in Virginia are breaking for Youngkin. “In three surveys released this week, Youngkin had 7- , 22- and 18-point leads among independents,” the publication wrote.
Here’s the crowd in Alexandria, where Glenn Youngkin is delivering his stump speech at a farmers’ market this morning. pic.twitter.com/CiUTW4UCHQ
— Eric Bradner (@ericbradner) October 30, 2021
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, partisan voter registration does not exist. So independents in Virginia are self-designated but still may lean Republican or Democrat. About one third of registered voters identify as an independent, making polling tricky.
It is likely high Republican enthusiasm may help turn the vote out among those who identify as independents but who typically vote for Republican.
2. Parents Concerned About Education
Parents are the second key indicator breaking for Youngkin, Politico reported. A Fox News poll revealed Youngkin in leading his Democrat challenger by 14 points with likely voters who are parents.
The parents are likely polling well for Youngkin because of a sexual assault scandal in Loudoun County’s school system in which there was an attempted coverup. Parents have also taken note of Critical Race Theory (CRT) being taught in Virginia schools.
Youngkin’s opponent has denied CRT is taught in Virginia schools. “It’s not taught here in Virginia,” Terry McAuliffe claimed October 7 about CRT in Virginia. “We can ask about any topic. Here’s what I’ve said all along, and it really bothers me — this whole idea of stirring parents up to create divisions.”
Dispute McAuliffe’s claims, concerned parents have protested at school board meetings that CRT is being taught in Virginia schools. The protests have led to Attorney General Merrick Garland permitting an FBI probe into parents, predicated on a faulty memo from National School Board Association (NSBA) which labeled parents “domestic terrorists.”
3. Joe Biden 2020 Voters
The third metric swinging towards Youngkin are 2020 Joe Biden voters. A Washington Post poll revealed McAuliffe is only winning 90 percent of 2020 Biden voters. Youngkin, meanwhile, is winning 99 percent of Republican voters and six percent of Biden voters.
It should be noted President Biden only has a 43 percent approval rating in the state, according Fox News polling. “And 14 percent of respondents who said they voted for Biden — a small but not-insignificant figure — now disapprove of his job performance,” Politico noted.
The inability of the Democrat candidate to win those who voted for Biden in 2020 could swing the state in favor of Youngkin.
4. Republican Base
The forth metric favoring the Republican is strong support among the GOP base for Youngkin. “Polls show Youngkin winning virtually every Trump voter who says he or she is planning to participate next week, but his ability to bring the former president’s base along while keeping Trump at arm’s length is even more impressive than that,” Politico wrote.
According the WaPo poll, Youngkin has nearly double the lead (61 percent to 33 percent) in rural Virginia. Youngkin’s numbers in this category are far better than Trump’s in 2020.
5. Chinese Coronavirus
Lastly, the issue of coronavirus has favored McAuliffe’s campaign. The monthly cases of coronavirus have dropped, giving the Democrat candidate less fodder to encourage voter turnout. Virginia voters also do not rank coronavirus very high on their list of concerns.
According to a Post-Schar School poll, only ten percent of Virginians believe coronavirus is the top issue in the state. Education, however, ranks near the top at 24 percent while the economy, burdened with inflation, sits just below at 23 percent.
Moreover, a “survey on Friday from the Republican firm Echelon Insights actually gives Youngkin a 1-point lead on who is trusted more to handle the Covid-19 pandemic,” Politico acknowledged.
Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø