Long-time Virginia political analyst Bob Holsworth released a new statement Tuesday night with his perspective on the gubernatorial race after the latest polling. He says that even though Democrats have a lead, Republican enthusiasm seems to be higher. The polls released Tuesday show Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe with a slight lead over his Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin.
“Surveys often ask who’s more enthusiastic about voting to measure how it might impact turnout. I like to modify the question and ask who’s ticked off. From 2017 through 2020, the Virginia Democrats’ anger at Trump seethed unabated- every election at every level sent the same message. A Northam landslide and 15 seats in the House in ‘17, a Kaine blowout and 3 congressional seats in ‘18, control of both chambers in the General Assembly in ‘19, double-digit wins by Warner and Biden in 2020,” Holsworth wrote.
“This may be shifting.McAuliffe’s Youngkin-Trumpkin message has tried to keep the anger on boil,” he continued. “But without Trump in office or on Twitter every hour, the Democrats are now the incumbents and it’s the Republicans who appear more ticked off. That’s the trend in survey responses. Republicans are more ‘strongly opposed” to Democratic leaders than Democrats are ‘strongly supportive.’ I’m seeing a lot of “somewhat supportive’ Democratic assessments.”
Holsworth also looked at the early voting totals as a sign the Republican enthusiasm is rising while Democratic enthusiasm is lower. “More importantly, this seems to be the case in the first few days of early voting when, unlike 2020, Republican-leaning regions are turning out equal to or greater than the Democrats.”
Holsworth provided the caveat that Youngkin is still behind in the polls and that this statement does not mean he necessarily believes Youngkin will win. “I’m not suggesting that Youngkin will win. He has to walk a very fine line, striving not to appear Trumpian while hoping that issues such as rising prices, crime, and critical race theory can fuel suburban angst and defections from the Democrats.”
Holsworth still believes that early voting might save Democrats this year. “Early voting, in fact, could turn out to be the saving grace for Democrats. Better to be surprised now than on election day,” Holsworth wrote. “It could be the kick in the backside than the Democratic turnout operation needs. The party knows, in relatively detailed terms, who their voters are and where they live. And they have an extended period for outreach.”
In the end, Holsworth wrote that the Democrats have the most votes to get in Virginia, but he wonders if the Democratic candidates will be able to inspire their supporters, or if the Republican ticket with anger Democratic voters enough, to get them to the polls.
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