The results of a new Fox News poll of voters in the Virginia gubernatorial race released on Thursday sent shockwaves through Washington, D.C.
The Fox survey of likely voters, conducted between Oct. 24-27, showed a 13-point swing in the results from two weeks ago. Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin now tops Democratic rival Terry McAuliffe by a margin of 53-45. Among registered voters, Youngkin’s advantage narrowed to one point.
Most political strategists consider likely voters to provide a more accurate snapshot of a race than registered voters, many of whom are unlikely to actually cast a ballot. They are simply less engaged in the political debate.
At any rate, the same Fox poll, previously conducted between Oct. 10-13, showed Youngkin trailing McAuliffe among likely voters by five points (51-46) and among registered voters by 11 points (52-41).
New Fox News poll shows Youngkin leading McAuliffe by 8%!!!
— Marina Medvin 🇺🇸 (@MarinaMedvin) October 28, 2021
This race has attracted national attention because it is considered a bellwether for the 2022 midterm elections.
Virginia is a reliably blue state which President Joe Biden won by 10 points last year. McAuliffe, who served as governor from 2014-2018, is running essentially as the incumbent in this race and was widely expected to defeat Youngkin.
This election has broad implications for what’s ahead politically. It’s viewed as a referendum on the Biden presidency. A GOP victory would signal to the public that Americans are done with Biden and his merry band of leftists.
Do you believe Youngkin will win the race?
Yes: 0% (0 Votes)
No: 0% (0 Votes)
McAuliffe intentionally cozied up to the administration because he thought it would boost his chances. It’s possible this decision might prove fatal to his campaign. If he loses, 2022 Democratic candidates may begin to distance themselves from the president. Some will be less apt to support his radical agenda for fear of being tied to it.
Simply put, a Democratic loss in Virginia will be a loss for Biden.
Until recently, the race had been McAuliffe’s to lose.
The dynamics of the race, however, began to change following a major McAuliffe gaffe in a late September debate. The former governor said parents should not be telling schools what to teach. In a campaign that has centered around the issue of education, that remark resonated with voters, and McAuliffe’s three to four-point advantage over his Republican rival Glenn Youngkin began to evaporate.
With the exception of Fox News, whose polling until last night showed McAuliffe ahead, most major polls showed the two locked into a dead heat.
Youngkin’s obvious momentum is not lost on Democrats who have sent in the big guns to campaign with McAuliffe. Among those who have traveled to the state recently to give him a boost are former President Barack Obama, Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
Other recent polls show a significant enthusiasm gap between Youngkin and McAuliffe supporters. Fox found that “79 percent of Youngkin supporters are ‘extremely’ interested in the election compared to 69 percent of McAuliffe supporters.”
A WCAV-TV poll found that 80 percent of GOP voters are “eager to vote” compared to just 65 percent of Democrats.
Democratic pollster Chris Anderson, who conducts the Fox News poll, said, “With the race essentially tied among the full registered voter universe, McAuliffe could still pull this off. But it would take something big to ignite enthusiasm for McAuliffe’s candidacy and a massively effective get out the vote effort.”
The release of Fox’s shock poll wasn’t the only bad news for Team McAuliffe on Thursday.
On Thursday afternoon, George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley reported on his blog that, in early October, the McAuliffe campaign had hired Washington attorney Marc Elias, who is known for “fixing” lost Democratic elections. The Elias Law Group was reportedly paid $53,680.
Elias may be even better known for his service as general counsel for the Democratic National Committee and the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign. In that role, he commissioned political opposition research firm, Fusion GPS, to create the now-debunked Steele dossier. Elias, then a partner at the Perkins Coie law firm, funneled DNC and Clinton campaign funds through his firm to pay Fusion GPS for their services.
Anyway, Turley called Elias’ hiring an “astonishing decision.” He wrote, “There are a host of election lawyers but McAuliffe selected an attorney accused of lying to the media, advancing rejected conspiracy theories, and currently involved in a major federal investigation that has already led to the indictment of his former partner.”
“McAuliffe may be preparing to challenge any win by Republican Glenn Youngkin.”
McAuliffe may be preparing to challenge any win by Republican Glenn Youngkin. He has given $53,680 to the Elias Law Group. McAuliffe does not appear disturbed by Elias’ highly controversial career or his possible exposure in the Durham investigation…https://t.co/Gb6YzAJmBo
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) October 28, 2021
On Thursday afternoon, Fox News reporter Tyler O’Neil emailed the McAuliffe campaign asking for a comment on Turley’s post.
At 4:41 p.m., O’Neil wrote: “This is Tyler O’Neil at Fox News. I am writing a story about the report that McAuliffe hired Marc Elias, potentially to challenge the election results. Would the campaign explain the purpose of the hiring? Would the campaign counter Jonathan Turley’s suggestion that McAuliffe may be planning to contest the election?”
In a response apparently not meant for O’Neil but for her colleagues, McAuliffe spokesperson Christina Freundlich responded to the email eight minutes later. She wrote, “Can we try to kill this,” according to the Fox report.
Clarifying her message, she sent a second response which only exacerbated the situation. It read: “To dispute the challenges of the election.”
The Washington Times reported that both candidates had previously pledged to “absolutely” accept the results of the election once certified.
This latest development will no doubt turn off some additional number of McAuliffe supporters who have no appetite for an election dispute in their state. Especially if the ethically challenged Marc Elias is involved.
Republican pollster Robert Cahaly, who conducts polls for Trafalgar Group, one of the most accurate polling firms of the November 2020 election, and Democratic pollster Mark Penn appeared on Fox News’ Hannity last night to discuss the state of the race. Cahaly predicted that Youngkin would prevail by two to three points. Penn also predicted a Youngkin win, albeit by two points.