By Matt Carpenter
With 23 days to go until gubernatorial election day in Virginia and early voting underway, both Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe are making their closing arguments to voters in the hopes of driving turnout in their favor. Over the last few months, the polls have shifted decisively away from McAuliffe, and now even Cook Political Report has moved the race from "Lean Democrat" to "toss-up." Only last month, polling showed McAuliffe with a lead outside the margin of error. Now, polling shows the race within the margin of error.
Looking at what polling tells us about the state of the race today, McAuliffe appears to hold a sizeable edge in the northern and southeastern portions of the state where the major metropolitan areas are, and majorities of female (51 percent to 45 percent) and black voters (75 percent to 25 percent) are backing him. Youngkin appears to be piecing together a coalition of rural and suburban voters, and according to an Emerson Polling poll, he leads among white (53 percent to 45 percent) and Hispanic voters (55 percent to 45 percent). Weighing heavily on McAuliffe is the approval rating of someone on the other side of the Potomac: Joe Biden. Biden's approval rating in Virginia is a dismal 39 percent, and his disapproval rating is at 51 percent, according to a survey from Civiqs. Biden's approval rating is acting as a wet blanket, depressing the Democrat base's enthusiasm, and threatening McAuliffe's comeback tour.
For a state that went to Biden by 10 points in the 2020 election, this fall's gubernatorial contest feels like it's almost happening in another state. One big reason for the momentum shift away from McAuliffe is the effort by parents in the Commonwealth to hold their local school boards accountable for their recalcitrance in responding to parental pressure to stop indoctrinating their children with critical race theory, gender theory, general anti-Americanism, and the like. Parents are rightfully worried about sexually explicit material in public libraries, services being denied to children with disabilities, and more. And what is Terry McAuliffe's closing argument to these concerned parents? He boasted about vetoing legislation in 2016 which would have allowed parents to block sexually explicit books from their libraries, and even went so far as to say: "I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach"--a callous and unsympathetic statement from someone asking for votes from Virginians doing the hard work of raising children.
While speaking at FRC's Pray Vote Stand Summit last week, Glenn Youngkin took a different tone, one Virginia's parents can appreciate. Youngkin took critical race theory head on when he said:
What's wrong with critical race theory is that it teaches our children to view everything through a lens of race, and then to divide each other into buckets, and to tell one group that their dreams won't be realized because they're victims and another group their dreams won't be realized because they're privileged. It's dream stealing, and it's directly counter to everything that we know is right. And I mean, Dr. Martin Luther King implored us to find our better selves when he said we must judge one another based on the content of our character, not the color of our skin.
Concerned parents, weary of unresponsive bureaucrats embedded in the state's education establishment and school boards, responded with applause. They get there's one candidate in this race who will ensure the state's education bureaucracy takes parents' concerns seriously and will not run to the Biden administration to slander parents as domestic terrorists. Virginians are weary of left-wing politicians who casually endorse infanticide, support legislation that allows for abortion through all stages of pregnancy, and erode religious liberty. Youngkin offers a breath of fresh air. He opposes pro-abortion legislation and respects religious liberty, unlike McAuliffe.
Youngkin's stand on the "values" issues appears to be the reason Virginians are turning away from McAuliffe in the final stretch. The heavy hand of government has been felt by Americans of all backgrounds since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and they want their freedom back. They want their voices heard and respected by their school boards and teachers, and they want an end to extreme pro-abortion and anti-family policies from Richmond.
There is so much more at stake than simply who occupies an office in Richmond, but who gets to decide what is best for our children: the government or parents? As Youngkin put it: "America is watching with a bright light because what is happening right now in Virginia with parents standing up for the rights of their children is happening all over America, and America needs Virginians to vote for them, too."
Get out and vote, Virginia!