Twelve days out, the Virginia gubernatorial race — a potential bellwether for the 2022 midterms — is a dead heat. A Monmouth University poll shows Democratic former Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin at 46% each. McAuliffe had a five-point lead in the same poll one month ago, and other polls have also shown McAuliffe’s lead fading.
“Everyone should be very worried,” one Democratic activist told Politico. And President Biden’s declining popularity may be to blame.
Politico’s Steve Shepard notes that the same Monmouth poll shows Biden’s approval in Virginia at 43%, “a state he won by 10 points a year ago.” As Axios has noted, McAuliffe “latched onto President Biden late this summer as he sought to boost his campaign,” but now “admits the president is ‘unpopular’ in the state.”
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), a former governor himself, is concerned. He is urging Democrats to get the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed in the House and signed by Biden before the November 2 election. Said Warner, “The President’s got a huge win sitting out there on a once in 50-year infrastructure plan. Let’s make it the law of the land.”
That makes sense both as politics and as policy, and Biden and Democratic negotiators have been making moves that could lead to passage of infrastructure by the end of the month. But it might not be enough. Politico reports that Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, “is pushing back against changes to Democrats’ reconciliation package being floated by the White House,” which could postpone a final resolution.
But with Biden’s numbers down, time is running out — and Democrats may feel electoral repercussions sooner than 2022.