2021 VA Governor’s Race

2021 VA Governor's Race 1


The 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election will be held on November 2, 2021, to elect the next governor of Virginia. Incumbent Democratic Governor Ralph Northam is ineligible to run for reelection, as the Constitution of Virginia prohibits the officeholder from serving consecutive terms.

The Democratic Party selected its candidate in a primary election on June 8, 2021. The Republican Party held a convention on May 8, 2021, at 37 polling locations throughout the state. On May 10, businessman Glenn Youngkin was declared the Republican nominee. Former Governor Terry McAuliffe won the Democratic primary. Teacher Princess Blanding is running under the newly formed Liberation Party.

News & Events

Glenn Younkin and Terry McAuliffe ran not only a tight race, but an expensive one. Some people online are calling Virginia’s gubernatorial election the most expensive in recent history.

So our VERIFY team dug into campaign finance data to find out.


Did the candidates for Virginia governor raise more money in the 2021 election, than in recent state races?




This is true.

Yes, the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial race was the most expensive in recent state history.


Candidates in Virginia are required to submit periodic reports of campaign contribution and expenditure data to the Virginia Department of Elections.

Our VERIFY researchers turned to those reports, which are publicly available online, and found that Glenn Youngkin and Terry McAuliffe raised a combined $115 million in campaign contributions; each raised about $57 million a piece.

Lieutenant Governor candidates Winsome Sears and Hala Ayala brought in, $2.5 million and $6.4 million respectively.

We also turned to Open Secrets, a political finance watchdog group, which tabulated the total amount raised by all candidates running for governor or lieutenant governor (including those that lost primaries, etc.). They found that as of the latest filing in mid-October, the total amount acquired by all campaigns was just under $149 million.

Youngkin wins major upset as GOP roars back in Virginia
Virginia Mercury, Graham Moomaw and Ned OliverNovember 3, 2021 (Medium)

Republican Glenn Youngkin narrowly defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Tuesday’s election for governor, a major upset on a night that saw the Virginia GOP make sweeping gains after a nearly decade-long losing streak in statewide elections. Several news outlets called the race for Youngkin shortly after 12:30 a.m.

Republicans Winsome Sears and Jason Miyares also held leads over their opponents in the races for lieutenant governor and attorney general and the GOP appeared on pace to take the House of Delegates, where they lost their majority just two years ago, according to preliminary results.  The GOP appears to have captured 52 seats, obliterating Democrats’ 55-45 majority.

Youngkin, a Northern Virginia businessman few had heard of a year ago, seized on parents’ various frustrations over K-12 schools, including hyping the incursion of “critical race theory” to overtake McAuliffe, a well-connected former governor who sought to win a second term largely by stoking fears about the lingering presence of former President Donald Trump.

Speaking to a crowd of supporters at a hotel in Chantilly, Youngkin said his victory is a defining moment in Virginia politics.

“Together we will change the trajectory of this commonwealth, and friends, we are going to start that transformation on day one,” he said. “Our kids can’t wait. We work in real-people time, not government time.”

Youngkin pledged to invest in education, including promting school choice, and “reestablish excellence in our schools.”

He hit on campaign promises to eliminate the grocery tax, cut taxes on retirement income of Virginia’s veterans and raise salaries for police as well protecting qualified immunity, which critics contend protects law enforcement from consequences of misconduct and abuse.

“This is our Virginia to build together, and we are going to work on day one,” he said. “Together we can build a new day, a new day for Virginia for yes, we soar, and we never settle.”

Cheat sheet: Youngkin and McAuliffe on the issues
Virginia Mercury, Ned Oliver, Kate Masters, Graham Moomaw, and Sarah VogelsongNovember 1, 2021 (Medium)

As the race for governor comes to a close, here’s a look back at the stances Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin have staked out on major policy issues.


Public education has become the dominant issue of Virginia’s gubernatorial race. But in the last weeks of the campaign, both candidates have focused less on funding formulas and school construction — some of the most pressing needs facing schools across the commonwealth — and more on controversial literature and other cultural flashpoints.

First, the basics. At the start of his campaign, McAuliffe released a six-page plan pledging “the largest increase in education investment in the history of Virginia.” He’s promised more funding to raise teacher salaries above the national average, expand access to preschool and fully adopt the Standards of Quality recommended by the Virginia Board of Education — guidance for staffing ratios, class size and other school resources.

Youngkin’s “Day One” plan offers less detail, but he’s committed to building at least 20 charter schools across Virginia to “provide choice” to parents. He’s also called for every school in the state to place a law enforcement officer on campus or lose out on state funding.

In tight Virginia governor’s race, policy takes backseat to culture wars
Virginia Mercury, Graham MoomawOctober 28, 2021 (Long)

Donald Hillard, a 49-year-old retired military veteran, says he identifies as a Republican and voted for George W. Bush twice. But he was never on board with the “madness” of former President Donald Trump. And it’s the lingering specter of Trumpism on the right that led him to vote for Virginia’s Democratic ticket this year.

“I disagree with how they’re allowing this stuff with Trump to just fester and keep going on. The whole election fraud stuff. It’s garbage. It’s over with,” Hillard said. “The people that are running that are Republicans still want to institute his policies. And they want to find a way to get this guy back in there.”

Wes Williams, a 44-year-old truck driver who said he voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 but switched to Trump in 2020, said he voted for the Republican ticket this year out of opposition to a “crazy” Democratic agenda he sees as increasingly detached from common sense. He pointed specifically to a recent controversy in Loudoun County, where school officials are under fire for allegedly mishandling a female student’s report of a sexual assault in a high-school bathroom during a politically contentious local debate over transgender-inclusive bathroom policies.

“Screw safety. We’re worried about feelings,” Williams said of the mindset he sees in Loudoun. “Life doesn’t work that way.”

The two men were echoing both major parties’ closing arguments as they cast ballots early in Chesterfield County outside Richmond, the type of suburban battleground that could decide the closely watched gubernatorial contest between Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a former governor and prodigious political fundraiser, and Republican Glenn Youngkin, a wealthy former private equity executive making his first run for office.

Recent polls have shown the race in a statistical dead heat, giving Republicans hope Youngkin could be the candidate to break their decade-long losing streak and flip the state red, despite the party’s steep numerical disadvantages in deep-blue Northern Virginia.

McAuliffe and Youngkin are in a dead heat with one week to Virginia governor election, poll shows
USA Today, Phillip M. Bailey and David JacksonOctober 26, 2021 (Medium)

Virginia’s bellwether race for governor remains close in the final stretch of a campaign that is testing President Joe Biden’s sagging approval numbers going into the 2022 midterms.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin are tied at roughly 45% each, according to a USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll released Tuesday. But roughly 5% of likely voters say they are still undecided a week before the Nov. 2 vote.

David Paleologos, director of Suffolk University Political Research Center, said the race is simply a “dead heat” and will boil down to which party can get out its voters.

“It’s down to turnout,” Paleologos said.

The race is much closer than Democrats had hoped after winning two straight Virginia governor’s races, including a victory by McAuliffe in 2013, and Biden carrying the state by 10 percentage points over Donald Trump last year.

The neck-and-neck race for Virginia governor has entered its final week, with Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin nationalizing their campaigns in markedly different ways.

For McAuliffe, a steady stream of high-profile Democratic surrogates has turned the race into a referendum about the past eight years of Democratic leadership in the commonwealth as well as the first year of President Joe Biden’s term. Biden will make his second trip across the Potomac River to rally support for McAuliffe on Tuesday evening in Arlington, following a July visit there to boost McAuliffe after the former governor clinched the Democratic nomination.

McAuliffe is closing the campaign much like he opened it: by looking to tie Youngkin to former President Donald Trump.

“There could not be a more stark difference” in the race, McAuliffe said Sunday in Charlottesville. “I am running against someone who has been endorsed by Donald Trump, not once, not twice, not three times, not four times, not five times — six times endorsed by Donald Trump.”

For Youngkin, the push to nationalize the race has not come in the form of top Republican surrogates — the candidate has largely campaigned on his own and has been careful about how he has related himself to Trump. Instead, he has made the case in his stump speech, repeatedly telling Virginians that the race is about more than just their commonwealth.

“Our nation’s future rests in Virginia’s present,” the businessman and political newcomer told an audience in Henrico on Saturday. “All eyes are on Virginia.”

Poll: McAuliffe, Youngkin tied in Virginia governor’s race
Politico, Zach MontellaroOctober 20, 2021 (Medium)

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin are deadlocked in the state’s governor’s race, according to a new poll from Monmouth University, as the Republican gains in the closing weeks of the race.

The poll shows both men with 46 percent support among registered voters. McAuliffe has lost ground since the last poll from the university in September, in which he held a narrow, 5-point lead. Two percent of voters prefer another candidate, and 7 percent are undecided.

Various modeling of the potential electorate from the pollster found anywhere from a 3-point lead for the former governor to a 3-point lead for Youngkin, a first-time candidate and private equity executive, the first time he has had a lead in any of Monmouth’s modeling in the state.

The two men have seen their support flip among independent voters. Youngkin leads 48 percent to 39 percent in this month’s poll, compared to a 46 percent to 37 percent lead for McAuliffe in the September poll. Notably, McAuliffe’s lead among women has shrunk from a 14-point lead last month, down to a 4-point lead in the poll now.

“Suburban women, especially in Northern Virginia, have been crucial to the sizable victories Democrats have enjoyed in the commonwealth since 2017,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, in a release accompanying the poll.

“However, their support is not registering at the same level this time around,” he continued. “This is due partly to a shift in key issues important to these voters and partly to dampened enthusiasm among the party faithful.”

Big Virginia abortion test: Can it energize Democratic base?
Associated Press, Will Weissert and Lindsay WhitehurstOctober 19, 2021 (Medium)

HENRICO, Va. (AP) — When Planned Parenthood canvassers stopped by Megan Ortiz’s house, the 32-year-old therapist was getting ready to head out and too distracted to talk for long.

But after they left, she thought better of it. She jumped in her minivan and drove the streets of her suburban Richmond neighborhood until she tracked down the canvassers. “I want to volunteer for you!” she proclaimed, eliciting cheers.

What changed her mind? Texas, she said.

“It’s just really scary, ” Ortiz said, of the state’s new law that bans most abortion. “It’s important that women’s voices be heard.”

Democrat Terry McAuliffe has spent months trying to get Virginia voters to focus on abortion, part of his effort to drive the Democratic turnout he needs to win the state’s closely watched governor’s race. Pointing to the Texas law, and with a majority-conservative Supreme Court taking up a case that could overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, McAuliffe and his allies argue that the issue may matter more now than at any previous time in a half century.

But breaking through to Democratic voters who are weary of politics in general and more focused on the pandemic, the fragile economy and other issues has been a struggle. McAuliffe’s battle with Republican former business executive Glenn Youngkin appears headed to the wire, even in Virginia, where Republicans have not won statewide office in 12 years and women, especially those in the suburbs, have turned away from the GOP in droves during the Trump administration.

McAuliffe v. Youngkin: the numbers beneath candidates’ job, economy claims
Virginia Mercury, Peter GaluszkaOctober 18, 2021 (Medium)

In a hotly contested gubernatorial race, few issues have been depicted in such stark contrast by the campaigns as jobs creation and Virginia’s business climate.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who was governor from 2014 to 2018,  paints himself as the jobs guy. He claims that during his term he helped create 200,000 jobs, raised personal income by 14 percent and cut unemployment to 3.3 percent.

His campaign staff says he intends to defeat COVID-19, create more good-paying jobs, including ones in clean energy, and raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Republican Glenn Youngkin has a far gloomier view.  “Virginia has had zero job growth from the day Terry McAuliffe took office until the end of 2020,” Youngkin wrote in an email to the Mercury. The former co-CEO of the large private equity firm Carlyle Group claims that Virginia has few job opportunities and more than 500,000 Virginians have left for work in other states.

So who’s right? It depends on which economist you ask.

Neither candidate’s statements reflect Virginia’s dependence upon federal spending, especially the military, which is beyond the authority of any governor.

Jill Biden headlines Democratic rally in Henrico
Virginia Mercury, Jackie Llanos HernandezOctober 15, 2021 (Medium)

With polls showing a tight race between former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and GOP challenger Glenn Youngkin, first lady Jill Biden stumped for McAuliffe in Henrico, one of several high profile Democrats scheduled to campaign in Virginia between now and Election Day.

At Dorey Park Friday night, Biden vouched for McAuliffe’s ability to lead in a bipartisan way.

“He knows how to bring people together because that’s the only way to get things done,” she said. “So today, Virginia, I’m asking you to vote for Terry McAuliffe and the Democrats on the ballot.”

Less than a minute into her remarks, a group of protesters holding a sign that said “Reject pipelines and protect the future” interrupted the first lady’s speech. Other attendees chanted “Terry” in response while Biden tried to continue speaking.

Once the protesters had left, Biden said that she “loved democracy” and carried on with highlighting McAuliffe’s past accomplishments as governor, citing investments in education and transportation and the drop in unemployment rate.

“I love the energy of this crowd,” Biden said. “When you’re around, it’s impossible not to feel optimistic.”

Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe has admitted President Joe Biden’s political woes drag on his gubernatorial campaign. But they pale against the shockwaves that would rip through the White House if he loses his race next month at a perilous time for the party in Washington.

If Republican Glenn Youngkin triumphs in a margin-of-error tussle in the commonwealth, already alarmed Democrats would tip into full-on panic about next year’s midterms, when their party faces a historical disadvantage as the party in the White House. The devastating blow would swell doubts about Biden’s own political authority and capacity to drive an endangered agenda through Congress with a spending and debt cliff looming in December. And Youngkin, a wealthy former private equity executive, would trigger an inquest among Democrats over whether tarring GOP candidates with the polarizing aura of Donald Trump — as McAuliffe has done incessantly — will be quite so potent when they’re not running in deep blue states like California and when the ex-President is not on the ballot.

On CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, the once and possible future Virginia governor tried to explain why the race is so close in a state where Biden thrashed Trump by 10 points only 11 months ago.

“This is an off-off-year. If you look at the history of Virginia, it’s not a presidential year turnout. Turnouts go from like 70 percent down to somewhere in the 40s,” said McAuliffe, who won a close gubernatorial election in 2013, a year that followed a Democratic White House win. “Listen, we’re going to win this race because I’m right on the issues,” McAuliffe told Dana Bash.

Pundits sometimes over-interpret individual races, trying to extrapolate from them the results of future elections elsewhere while ignoring their idiosyncrasies. But a Democratic defeat in what has become a reliably blue state over the last decade would be impossible to ignore and would cause political headaches for Democrats that reach beyond the Biden presidency. Republicans have struggled in recent years to balance the increasingly populist and nationalist leanings of the pro-Trump base with a need to appeal to highly educated, affluent voters in the suburbs. The task is especially hard in the Northern Virginia suburbs around Washington, DC, which teem with federal workers and highly educated and affluent voters. But if Youngkin can thread the needle, the wider political world will take note.

“Every gubernatorial election in Virginia is seen as a leading political indicator. How the parties do in Virginia’s governor’s race, the year after a presidential election, is seen as a harbinger of how the parties will do in the midterm elections,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a professor of political science at University of Mary Washington in Virginia.

Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin wasted no time turning a comment made by his Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, into an attack ad aimed at invigorating base GOP voters and parents.

The moment came during the second and final debate between the two late last month. “I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decision,” McAuliffe said over what should be taught in schools. The former governor later added, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
The comments, after getting considerable pick up within conservative media, quickly became a Youngkin ad and have already become a staple of Youngkin’s pitch in the closing weeks of the race to lead the Commonwealth.
“If you had any doubt — any doubt whatsoever — about Terry McAuliffe’s principles, he laid them bare last week when he said, he said parents do not have a right to be involved in their kid’s education,” Youngkin said earlier this month.
His campaign hopes it will serve as a rallying cry that could harness the recent Republican focus on education issues, ranging from what should be taught in public schools to issues around transgender students. But the ultimate goal is to cut into McAuliffe’s support with swing voters in key areas like the vote-rich Northern Virginia suburbs near Washington, DC.

Democratic former Gov. Terry McAuliffe lambasted Republican Glenn Youngkin on Tuesday night over his opposition to mandating Covid-19 vaccines for state workers in the second and final debate of the Virginia governor’s race.

The candidates’ split on vaccines — McAuliffe would require them for students, teachers and health care workers and would support businesses that imposed mandates; Youngkin says he encourages everyone to be vaccinated but opposes mandates — has emerged as a central issue in 2021’s marquee governor’s race.

“He’s going to send a child to a school where a teacher’s not wearing a mask and a teacher’s not vaccinated? That is disqualifying to be governor,” McAuliffe said.

Youngkin, meanwhile, maintained that McAuliffe’s characterization of his stance on vaccines is “the most egregious untruth my opponent continues to say about me.”

“I’ve gotten the vaccine; my family has gotten the vaccine. It’s the best way for people to keep themselves safe. And I in fact have asked everyone in Virginia to please get the vaccine. But I don’t think we should mandate it,” Youngkin said.

He said he does not want to run teachers and health care workers who oppose being vaccinated out of their jobs. “We need those health care workers. We need people on the job. To make their life difficult, that’s no way to go serve Virginians,” he said.

Why Democrats should be worried about Virginia’s governor’s race
CNN, Harry EntenSeptember 25, 2021 (Medium)

(CNN)The state of Virginia is about to provide the clearest preview of what’s to come in the 2022 election. Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin will face off in a marquee gubernatorial race in November. At the same time, all 100 seats in the state’s House of Delegates are up for grabs.

The outcome of these races will help tell us whether the rising Democratic coalition of African Americans and White voters with a college degree is providing the backstop they need to stop a red Republican wave.
Right now, Democrats have to be worried about what they’re seeing in the polls. President Joe Biden took the state by 10 points last year. But recently, his approval rating in numerous recent surveys has sunk below his disapproval rating, just as it has nationally.
Biden’s declining fortunes has coincided with Youngkin rising in these same polls. Although McAuliffe holds on to a nominal lead, this race is well within the margin of error.
This is notable for a number of reasons.
We know that what happens in Virginia rarely stays in Virginia. Virginia has proven to be a good barometer of midterm elections.
As Youngkin rejects Texas-style ban, GOP ticket steers clear of anti-abortion rally in Richmond
Virginia Mercury, GRAHAM MOOMAW AND JACKIE LLANOS HERNANDEZSeptember 18, 2021 (Medium)

If it didn’t count as a banned weapon, she would have brought her sledgehammer, anti-abortion activist Victoria Cobb told the March for Life crowd Friday from the steps of the Virginia Capitol.

The hammer, she said, is a symbol of what the pro-life movement hopes to do to former Gov. Terry McAulffe’s “brick wall” for abortion rights.

“You are going to break down that wall,” Cobb, president of the socially conservative Family Foundation, told the group gathered on Capitol Square. “You are going to be the ones that do whatever it takes.”

Legal developments outside Virginia have pushed abortion to the forefront of this year’s elections, with activists on both sides stressing the high stakes in the gubernatorial contest between McAuliffe, a Democrat, and Republican Glenn Youngkin.

Three Republican lawmakers spoke at the third annual March for Life in Richmond, where marchers shouted chants against the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that established abortion as a constitutional right and booed at the mention of recent Democratic governors. The Family Foundation described the crowd as being in the thousands. Capitol Police estimated there were 600 attendees.

None of the three Republicans running for statewide office this year spoke at the event, forgoing a chance to speak to a sizable crowd to campaign elsewhere. Earlier this year, Youngkin was caught on camera expressing sympathy for the anti-abortion cause but adding he couldn’t press the issue to avoid turning off independent voters.

Virginia governor’s race: Key takeaways from the 1st debate
Associated Press, Sarah RankinSeptember 17, 2021 (Medium)

Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin met Thursday in southwest Virginia for the commonwealth’s first gubernatorial debate of the general election season.

Much of the exchange between McAuliffe, a longtime Democratic Party fundraiser who is seeking a rare second term as governor, and Youngkin, a former business executive and political newcomer, dealt with vaccine mandates and abortion policy.

Here is a look at some other topics the candidates sparred over during the hourlong debate in a race that is being closely watched ahead of next year’s midterms:

Virginia’s First Gubernatorial Debate
WUSA9September 16, 2021
Youngkin lends millions more to his gubernatorial campaign
Associated Press, MATTHEW BARAKATSeptember 16, 2021 (Medium)

Virginia gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin each raised more than $11 million in the last two months, but Youngkin loaned his campaign an additional $4.5 million to give himself a significant advantage, according to the most recent campaign-finance reports.

The $4.5 million Youngkin, a GOP businessman making his first run for office, loaned his campaign is on top of $11.2 million he had already lent.

McAuliffe and other Democrats have long expressed fears that Youngkin, who made his fortune as an executive with The Carlyle Group investment firm, will be able to use his personal wealth to give his campaign an edge.

The reports, which were due Wednesday, cover the months of July and August. McAuliffe raised $11.5 million. Youngkin raised $11.2 million, not including the $4.5 million loan.

Takeaways from the first debate in Virginia’s governor’s race between McAuliffe and Youngkin
ABC 8 News, Dean Mirshahi, Jackie DeFuscoSeptember 16, 2021 (Short)

Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin sparred over COVID-19 vaccine mandates, abortion rights, tax policy and more during the first debate of Virginia’s governor’s race on Thursday night.

A new 8News/Emerson College poll released ahead of the debate showed the candidates are neck and neck.

On the night before early voting for the November 2 election begins in Virginia, the candidates made their key differences clear on the debate stage.

Thursday’s debate, which was held at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, was moderated by Susan Page, the Washington bureau chief of USA Today, with panelists Bob Holsworth, a Virginia political analyst, and WTVR-TV anchor Candace Burns.

McAuliffe and Youngkin spar over Covid vaccine requirements in first Virginia debate
Dan Merica and Michael WarrenSeptember 16, 2021 (Short)

(CNN)Virginia gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin sparred on Thursday over what each would do in the fight against the coronavirus, revealing a significant divide between the Democrat’s backing of vaccine mandates and the Republican’s argument that vaccination is a personal choice.

The fight over measures to combat Covid-19 was the focus of the first gubernatorial debate from the outset of the contest, with both candidates attempting to go on offense on the issue during the event hosted by Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia.
Youngkin argued that while he personally supports the Covid vaccine and wants everyone to get the shot, he believes “that individuals should be allowed to make that decision on their own.” He also pushed for McAuliffe to join him in taping a public service announcement to “encourage all the Virginians to get the vaccine.”
Pressed on whether he, as governor, would join his Republican colleagues and challenge President Joe Biden’s recent vaccine mandates, Youngkin did not give a direct “yes” or “no” answer, but said, “I don’t believe that President Biden has the authority to dictate to everyone that we have … to get the vaccine.” Biden announced earlier this month a series of new vaccine rules on federal workers, large employers and health care staff.
McAuliffe, a former governor of Virginia, fired back, calling Youngkin anti-vaccine and saying that he, as governor, would back up employers who mandate vaccines and would call for such mandates for people working in health care and in most education settings and for those pursuing higher education. The Democrat also said, after being pressed by moderator Susan Page, that he would support adding the Covid vaccine to those required for students older than 12, since the US Food and Drug Administration has authorized use of the vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds.
“I am for requiring, mandate vaccinations. He’s not,” said McAuliffe, who is running for a second stint in office in a commonwealth that bars governors from serving successive terms. “He wants to do PSAs. PSAs aren’t going to get you anything. I want everybody to be vaccinated here in the commonwealth of Virginia.”

California’s recall election has understandably dominated headlines, but there are two other gubernatorial elections this November that might tell us more about the national environment: Virginia and New Jersey.

To be sure, President Joe Biden carried both of these states by double-digit margins in 2020, and neither state has been terribly hospitable to Republicans since former President Trump won the 2016 election. But in recent weeks, Biden’s approval rating has taken a sizable hit as the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and the delta variant of COVID-19 has complicated his efforts to steer the country out of the pandemic. In fact, Biden’s approval rating has fallen to about its lowest point (about 46 percent), while his disapproval rating is up to 49 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker. The upshot is that Biden’s worsening ratings could improve the GOP’s chances of winning these gubernatorial races, particularly in Virginia, which is a more competitive state than New Jersey and doesn’t have an incumbent seeking reelection. Here is the state of play in these two elections a little less than two months before November:

McAuliffe holds narrow lead in Virginia as Democrats face enthusiasm test
Politico, Zach MontellaroAugust 31, 2021 (Short)

A new Monmouth University poll shows the former Democratic governor slightly ahead of his GOP opponent, Glenn Youngkin.

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe holds a narrow lead in this year’s race for his old job, according to a new poll released on Tuesday, setting up the November election as a major test of Democratic voters’ enthusiasm without Donald Trump in the White House.

The poll from Monmouth University found McAuliffe leading Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin, 47 percent to 42 percent among registered voters.

Monmouth ran a series of turnout scenarios and found that Youngkin did better when more irregular voters were included. And broadly, the Republican overperformed the former governor among voters who described themselves as “more enthusiastic” about this race compared to past gubernatorial contests, roughly a quarter of the electorate.


Polling Data

McAuliffe (D)
Youngkin (R)
RCP Average8/3 – 8/2946.040.8McAuliffe +5.2
Trafalgar Group (R)8/26 – 8/291074 LV3.04746McAuliffe +1
Monmouth8/24 – 8/29802 RV3.54742McAuliffe +5
Christopher Newport Univ.*8/15 – 8/23800 LV3.65041McAuliffe +9
Roanoke College8/3 – 8/17558 LV4.24638McAuliffe +8
VCU8/4 – 8/15770 RV5.24037McAuliffe +3

All Virginia Governor – Youngkin vs. McAuliffe Polling Data


First debate – September 16, 2021

Youngkin and McAuliffe met at Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia on September 16, 2021, one day before early voting began. The debate started with discussion over a recent COVID-19 mandate President Joe Biden signed requiring federal workers, employees of large companies, and contractors to be vaccinated. Youngkin doubted if Biden had the power to authorize the mandate, and supported personal choice for receiving the vaccine. McAuliffe supported the mandate and accused Youngkin of spreading “anti-vax” rhetoric.[126] Youngkin denied the claim.`

The discussion moved to climate change, where Youngkin stated he would use all sources of energy to address climate change without “putting [the] entire energy grid at risk for political purposes.” McAuliffe called for clean energy in the state by 2035 and stressed the idea for the state to be a production hub.

The discussion then moved to abortion, specifically the recent Texas Heartbeat Act signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott (whom endorsed Youngkin).[127] When asked whether or not Youngkin would sign a similar bill, Youngkin stated that he would not sign the bill, and that he was pro-life and supports exclusions in cases such as rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is endangered and also supports a “pain-threshold” bill. In addition, Youngkin said he would “go on the offensive” to defund Planned Parenthood and stated McAuliffe was “the most extreme pro-abortion candidate in America today”. In response to Youngkin, McAuliffe stated he was a “brick wall” to women’s rights and would protect a woman’s decision over abortion and supports reducing the number of doctors needed to certify a third-trimester abortion from three to one.

The next discussion topic was over election integrity. After supporting an “Election Integrity Taskforce”, Youngkin stated he does not believe there has been “significant fraud”, and stated the issue of fraud as “a democracy issue”. Youngkin stressed that he believes that “Joe Biden’s our president” and criticized the withdrawal from Afghanistan. McAuliffe took note to Donald Trump’s endorsement of Youngkin, calling him a “Trump wannabe”.[126] Both candidates stated they would concede the election if the other came out on top.

The final discussion topic was over the economy. McAuliffe attacked Youngkin on his top economic advisor, Stephen Moore, who advised Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Youngkin defended Virginia’s right-to-work law.

Source: Wikipedia


SourceRankingAs of
The Cook Political Report[128]Lean DSeptember 15, 2021
Inside Elections[129]Likely DSeptember 15, 2021
Sabato’s Crystal Ball[130]Lean DSeptember 15, 2021


Virginia’s First Gubernatorial Debate

Published on September 16, 2021

Terry McAuliffe

Terry McAuliffe 2Current Position: GMU Distinguished Visiting Professor since 2018
Affiliation: Democrat
Candidate: 2021 Governor
Former Position(s): Governor from 2014 – 2018; Chair, Democratic National Committee from 2001 – 2005; Chair, Hillary Clinton presidential campaign since 2008

Terry McAuliffe is a lifelong entrepreneur and proud Democrat who served as the 72nd Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2014-2018. As governor, Terry focused on making the Commonwealth welcoming and inclusive and building a 21st Century economy that created good jobs and expanded economic opportunity for all Virginians.

For more information, see this Terry McAullife post.

Glenn Youngkin

Current Position: Republican Nominee for Governor of Virginia
Affiliation: Republican
Candidate: 2021 Governor

Glenn Allen Youngkin (born December 9, 1966) is an American businessman who is the Republican nominee in the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election. Prior to entering politics, he spent 25 years at the private-equity firm The Carlyle Group, rising to become its CEO in January 2018.

He stepped down from the Carlyle Group in 2020, and in January 2021 he announced his candidacy for the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election, and won the Republican nomination on May 10, 2021.

For more information, see this Glenn Youngkin post.



Terry McAuliffe


Glenn Youngkin

Make Goverment Work For You

Virginia’s government is failing its fundamental mission – serving the people. Our system is broken as customer service at agencies such as the DMV and VEC disappears. Glenn will make government work by:

  • Fixing the DMV & the Virginia Employment Commission
  • Protecting our Constitutional Rights
  • Conducting a Statewide Transparency Audit to Root out Waste, Fraud & Abuse
  • Restoring Photo ID Laws & Making it Easy to Vote and Hard to Cheat
  • Investing More Money in Roads & Highways
  • Completing Long-Delayed Environmental Projects

Civil Rights

Terry McAuliffe

Lifting Up Black Virginians: Terry’s Plan to Create a Stronger, More Equitable Commonwealth

Creating Opportunities for Black Virginians

As Virginia’s next Governor, Terry will take on the systemic racism that plagues our Commonwealth. That means addressing racial disparities and creating opportunities for Black Virginians to build wealth through homeownership and by investing in Black-owned businesses. Terry will continue his fight to defend and advance civil rights by making the restoration of voting rights permanent in Virginia’s constitution, reforming the criminal justice system, and working to improve police-community relations. Terry will also ensure that Black Virginians have access to high-quality, affordable health care coverage and a world-class education, and promote equitable land use and access to safe and welcoming green spaces.

Glenn Youngkin



Terry McAuliffe

Creating Good-Paying Jobs and a Thriving Economy for All Virginians

Raise the Minimum Wage to $15 by 2024, Provide Paid Sick, Family & Medical Leave, Make Childcare More Affordable, and Create Pathways to Good-Paying Jobs for All Virginians

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the pervasive inequities in our systems and disproportionately impacted Black and Brown communities when it comes to education, minority-owned businesses, housing and health care. Terry’s plan will rebuild our economy again so that all Virginians can prosper.

As Governor, Terry will work to keep Virginians safely back at work and in schools, rebuild our thriving network of small businesses, and support our workforce with access to paid sick days, COVID-19 vaccines, affordable child care and hazard pay.

He will also make critical investments in building and training the workforce of the future and ensuring that people of all ages have the skills they need to be successful in the jobs of tomorrow.

Glenn Youngkin

Cut Costs For Virginians

The cost of living is rising for Virginians, and people are leaving the Commonwealth to look for jobs and start lives elsewhere. Glenn will tackle the rising cost of living and cut costs for Virginians by:

  • Eliminating Virginia’s Grocery Tax & Suspending the Recent Gas Tax Hike for 12 Months
  • Providing a One Time Tax Rebate of $600 for Joint Filers and $300 for Individuals
  • Ending Runaway Property Taxes by Requiring Voter Approval for Increases
  • Cutting Income Taxes by Doubling the Standard Deduction & Cutting Taxes on Veteran Retirement Pay

‍Reinvigorate Job Growth 

Add 400,000 Jobs & 10,000 Startups
Virginia’s jobs machine is broken. After zero job growth from 2013 through 2020, Virginia currently ranks 44th in job recovery during the pandemic and was recently ranked as the 49th best state to start a business. Glenn will jumpstart our economy by:

  • Keeping Virginia Open and Protecting Lives & Livelihoods
  • Protecting Virginians from Forced Unionization & Cutting Job Killing Regulations by 25%
  • Launching #JumpstartJobs to Develop Talent, Train Workers, Attract Investment, & Make Virginia the
  • Easiest State to Start a Business
  • Reinvigorating Small Business by Enacting a Small Business Tax Holiday & Ending the Tax on Rebuild VA and PPP Loans


Terry McAuliffe

Building a Healthier Virginia

Ensuring That Every Virginian Has Quality, Affordable Health Care

As Virginia’s next governor, Terry will fight to make sure all Virginians have access to quality, affordable health care coverage and that no Virginian is forced to choose between medication or a meal. Terry will address racial, gender, and geographic disparities in access to coverage and outcomes by strengthening Medicaid, working with the federal government to implement a reinsurance program to lower health insurance premiums, protecting reproductive freedoms, and combating rising prescription drug prices by holding pharmaceutical companies accountable. As governor, Terry will also work to end unacceptable maternal mortality rates for Black women by expanding home visiting programs, improving access to quality care, ensuring access to lactation support, and mandating mental health screenings for pregnant and postpartum women.

Glenn Youngkin



Terry McAuliffe

Taking Action to Protect Virginians from Gun Violence

It’s time to Ban the Sale of Assault Weapons, Close Loopholes, and Treat Gun Violence as a Public Health Epidemic

As Virginia’s next Governor, Terry will send a clear message that gun violence has no place in the Commonwealth. He will ban the sale of assault weapons and get high-capacity magazines and ghost guns off of our streets. He will also close lethal loopholes that repeatedly allow firearms to get into the hands of dangerous individuals. By creating an Office of Gun Violence Prevention and creating a research Center of Excellence at a Virginia college or university, Terry will treat gun violence as the public health crisis it is and deploy evidence-based solutions to save lives.

Glenn Youngkin

Keep our Communities Safe

Failed leadership and dangerous policies have left Virginia less safe. With rising violent crime and the murder rate at a 20-year high, Glenn will keep our communities safe by:

  • Fully Funding Law Enforcement & Protecting Qualified Immunity for our Law Enforcement Heroes
  • Firing the Parole Board & Keeping Violent Criminals Off Our Streets
  • Launching #UnityInTheCommunity Programs Operation Ceasefire & Project Exile
  • Fixing Our Broken Mental Health System


Terry McAuliffe

Ensuring that Every Child has Access to an Equitable, World-Class Education

$2 Billion Annual Investment to Raise Teacher Pay Above the National Average, Get Every Student Online, Expand Pre-K, and Eliminate Racial Disparities in Education. 

As Virginia’s next Governor, Terry will ensure that every student has access to an equitable, world-class education. His plan will invest a record $2 billion annually in education, which will raise teacher pay above the national average for the first time in Virginia history, give every 3 and 4-year-old in need access to pre-k, and get every student online. Terry will also address Virginia’s educator shortage and diversify our educator workforce through his Lucy Simms Educator Program. The Lucy Simms Program will cover education costs for students who commit to teaching for five years in one of Virginia’s public schools after graduation. Terry will also fight to make Virginia the best state in the nation for STEM-H and computer science education.

Glenn Youngkin

Restore Excellence In Education

Virginia’s students have fallen behind because of extended school closings, lower school standards, and political agendas. Glenn will empower parents and restore excellence and commonsense in education by:

  • Keeping Schools Open Safely Five Days a Week
  • Restoring High Expectations & Getting Every Student College or Career Ready
  • Ridding Political Agendas from the Classroom by Banning Critical Race Theory
  • Rebuilding Crumbling Schools, Raising Teacher Pay, & Investing in Special Education Programs
  • Creating at least 20 New Innovation Charter Schools across the K-12 Spectrum to Provide Choice


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