Education, Trump in the spotlight in tight Virginia governor race with 2 weeks to Election Day

Posted 43 days ago


With just two weeks to go until Election Day in Virginia, the gubernatorial showdown between former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin – a closely watched statewide race with likely national implications - remains a razor-tight margin of error face-off.

Both national and state issues are impacting the race in Virginia, which along with New Jersey are the only two states to hold gubernatorial contests in the year after a presidential election, ensuring they get outsized attention from coast to coast. But a look at the ads by the two campaigns that are currently flooding the TV airwaves and digital devices suggests that the issue of education and former President Donald Trump are front and center in the commonwealth showdown.

"Virginia parents have a right to make decisions on their children’s education. That’s the Virginia I grew up in," Youngkin says in his campaign ad that’s currently heavily in rotation across the state.

And Youngkin, a first-time candidate and former CEO of a large private equity firm, charges that "Terry McAuliffe wants to change that."

His commercial then uses a viral clip from the second and final debate between the two candidates where McAuliffe, who’s running for his old job, said "I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach."

Youngkin, emphasizing his campaign’s closing message, emphasizes in the spot that "I’ll always stand up for Virginia’s parents."

Public school education has traditionally been a leading issue in gubernatorial contests across the country. But amid a year and a half of frustration over school closures due to the coronavirus pandemic and the push by conservatives nationwide to target race-focused curriculum, including this year’s well publicized battles over critical race theory in Virginia’s Loudon County, Republicans see education as a winning issue to try and recapture suburban voters who fled the GOP during former President Trump’s White House tenure.

And that was before McAuliffe’s unforced error at the final debate, which Republicans have repeatedly spotlighted over the ensuing weeks.

"This has given a big opening for Youngkin and he’s grabbed it," longtime GOP consultant and Fox News contributor Karl Rove said Tuesday on "America's Newsroom"

An average of the latest polls in the race indicates that McAuliffe holds a slight, lower single-digit edge over Youngkin in a state that President Biden won by 10 points in last year's election and where Republicans haven't won a statewide contest in a dozen years.

The latest Fox News poll in Virginia – which indicated McAuliffe with a narrow five-point advantage among likely voters – spotlighted that 57% of Virginia parents said that parents "should be telling schools what to teach."

But the survey also indicated McAuliffe – who launched his campaign at an event at a public school last December to showcase his education plan - with a 10-point lead over Youngkin among parents likely to vote, ... (Read more)