I will admit to you that I am extremely skeptical of a Fox poll that shows Glenn Youngkin up eight points in the Virginia gubernatorial race. It is simply too big of an outlier compared to everything else we've seen, and while I do hope Youngkin wins and know he's made a lot of in-roads with concerned parents, this poll does not have me convinced. Yet.
I still think McAuliffe is the favorite to win but, at this point, the race is a true toss-up. Without the Fox Poll, McAuliffe is up one point, well within the margin of error in all the polling since his shocking admission that he believes parents shouldn't be involved with education. And if you look at the trends on RealClearPolitics, you can see that McAuliffe has been on a fairly steep slope for the last two weeks while Youngkin has been narrowing the gap to the point that it's essentially a tie.
As much as I believe the Fox poll is an outlier, though, the trend is clearly there. Democrats continue to believe this movement that has risen up against Critical Race Theory, masking in schools, and the like is simply a Republican-organized movement, but the public polling we've seen very much indicates that this is far more widespread than a bunch of conservatives trying to take on Democrats.
There are a couple of things to note, though.
The first is the education issue. A lot of the polling, public and private, shows that protecting public education from parents is a losing issue for the Democrats. They are very underwater on this, and the Department of Justice's involvement made things worse. There are a lot of stories cropping up lately about the hostility Democrats and school board members are showing toward parents. It isn't the parents who started this war, but they are fighting it to the finish.
The second issue at play here is the economy. In short, it's abysmal and we're very likely headed back toward a recession. Inflation, shortages, supply chain issues all plague the American economy, making things very bad for the middle-class families who will provide a huge chunk of the votes next week. Couple this with employment issues and the education issues above, and you'll see two things happen to the voting turnout: White, suburban women will turn out for Youngkin in higher than expected numbers and black families will turn out at lower than expected numbers for McAuliffe.
The final issue the Democrats will have to contend with is Joe Biden. His approval rating is averaging near ten points underwater and his appearance the other night does not appear to have made a whole lot of difference in enthusiasm. The plan to make the election about Donald Trump only appeals to voters in northern Virginia, and even then the appeal is limited. It has become an issue-less campaign.
It has been McAuliffe's campaign to lose, and by God he is on the cusp of doing so. Couple this with the narrowing (but still comfortably Democrats) gubernatorial race in New Jersey and you see what this means: Biden is dragging Democrats down with him. He won Virginia by ten points and how the most generous poll in the last two weeks has McAuliffe three points up. New Jersey is a state Biden won by 17 points and Democratic incumbent Phil Murphy is currently up by 11 in the latest Monmouth poll. The President is a drag on his own party, and there doesn't appear to be any hope in sight between now and election day in Virginia.
If it turns out that McAuliffe wins with as narrow a victory as can be predicted by the polling, the Democrats can breathe a sigh of relief and they will probably continue on as they are… which would be a really bad move. The public sentiment is clearly against them right now and they are going to once again double and triple down on the controversial policies that are making them so toxic.
And if Youngkin wins? Expect tears, rage, and accusations of a stolen election… which, incidentally, are just fine when a Democrat does it.