With the Virginia gubernatorial race just a day away, prominent Virginian political commentator Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball is changing its rating for the contest from ‘Leans Democratic’ to ‘Leans Republican.’
“Our sense is that the race has been moving toward [Republican nominee Glenn] Youngkin, in large part because of the political environment. [Democratic nominee Terry] McAuliffe’s Trump-centric campaign also just doesn’t seem as potent in a non-federal race with the former president no longer in the White House,” write Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman at the site.
The rating change comes amidst a flurry of good polling news for Youngkin, who now holds leads in the RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight averages.
While Kondik and Coleman observe that McAuliffe’s efforts to tie Younkin inextricably to former president Donald Trump have largely fallen upon deaf ears, the Democrat has decided to rely on that message for his closing argument, dismissing his opponent as “Glenn Trumpkin” on Monday.
On the other hand, Youngkin has been less focused on McAuliffe and larger national forces than he has discrete issues important to Virginian voters: namely, education, crime, and taxes.
As Kondik and Coleman put it, “Youngkin has the enthusiasm, the environment, the history, and perhaps even the issues (given his focus on education and its increasing salience in polling). McAuliffe has the state’s Democratic lean in his favor.”
The post notifying the public of the ratings change also notes that “because of changes to Virginia law, mail-in and early ballots will be tabulated more quickly than in 2020, so instead of the Republicans jumping out to an early lead, Democrats are likely to. Then it will be a question of whether Youngkin catches up to and passes McAuliffe, and there may be late drama depending on the rhythm of the vote count.”