ALERT: Democratic Infighting and Biden’s Low Approval Could Torpedo McAuliffe’s Run for Governor
Former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s bid for Virginia governor may be put in jeopardy by his party’s infighting over the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill and President Biden’s dismal drop in approval ratings.
Biden cruised to victory in Virginia last year. But the decay of the president’s approval ratings over the past eight weeks, along with the inability of the White House and moderate and progressive congressional Democrats to agree on the party’s massive social spending and climate change agenda, are key factors in a close gubernatorial race with national implications, with less than five weeks to go until Election Day.
“Complacency driven by what’s happening in Washington and with the Biden administration is the biggest threat to McAuliffe and is the driving reason why we moved the race to a toss-up last week,” Jessica Taylor, the Senate and governor’s editor for the top nonpartisan handicapper The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter, told Fox News.
The president’s flagging numbers came in the wake of Biden’s much-criticized handling of the turbulent U.S. exit from Afghanistan. And it also came amid a surge in COVID cases this summer among mainly unvaccinated people due to the spread of the highly infectious delta variant, as the nation struggles to combat the coronavirus, the worst pandemic to strike the globe in a century. The plunge in the president’s approval was also compounded by the latest surge of migrants trying to cross into the U.S. along the southern border with Mexico.
“Coming off the difficult month the Biden administration’s had with Afghanistan, the border, delta surging, all of this has sort of created a perfect storm, and it’s resulted in a drop in Biden’s approval ratings. Even in a state where he won by 10 points, he’s underwater right now,” Taylor noted. “And that’s a really precarious situation for a race that’s just over a month from now.”
Currently, McAuliffe holds a five-point advantage over Youngkin among Virginia registered voters in a Monmouth University poll conducted Sept. 22-26, and he is up seven points among likely voters in a Roanoke poll conducted Sept. 12-26.
An average of the most recent polls compiled by Real Clear Politics shows McAuliffe with a mere three-point edge over Youngkin.
A Democratic strategist connected to the Virginia gubernatorial showdown told Fox News that “everyone knew that it was going to be a close race.”
The strategist, who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely, acknowledged that “Terry is running along with Biden’s agenda, especially when you look at COVID.”
Asked whether Biden is weighing McAuliffe down, the strategist said, “I’m still confident in our position, but obviously it is a close race, and we have to treat it as such.”
A Virginia GOP official was a little more blunt, telling Fox News that “Virginians know that Terry McAuliffe is tied to Joe Biden and that’s going to continue to nag at him, but he has his own reasons that he’s losing and Virginia Republicans are going to make those reasons clear over the next month.”