Politico

Virginia Republicans are fired up — and Trump is on the sidelines

Orignally published on 2021-10-29 08:30:33 by www.politico.com

That’s why Democrats are pulling out all the stops to rile up their own voters, a traditionally difficult task for the party in the White House to pull off a year after winning it. Appearing at a rally alongside McAuliffe, Biden laid into Youngkin this week, calling him an “acolyte of Donald Trump” and casting him an extremist — who, Biden quipped, “can come in a smile and a fleece.” Former President Barack Obama is featuring in direct-to-camera TV ads airing across the state, while Vice President Kamala Harris and Stacey Abrams stumped for McAuliffe in southern Virginia.

But these high-profile pleas may not be enough to rouse voters disappointed by marginal returns following the Democratic takeover in Washington, an electoral ennui brought on by Biden and congressional Democrats’ inability to enact a slew of campaign priorities.

Democrats’ wildest hope, to goad Trump into showing up in Virginia before Election Day, doesn’t appear to have worked, though the former president will phone into an election-eve “tele-rally,” it was revealed Thursday.

Public and private polling show that Republicans are outstripping Democrats in interest in the race.

A Christopher Newport University poll found that 80 percent of Republicans were very enthusiastic to vote, while 65 percent of Democrats self-identified that way. A Monmouth University poll, which found the gubernatorial race deadlocked, noted a “chasm” between the two parties, where Republicans held a 23-point advantage in enthusiasm. And a Fox News poll out Thursday night — the first survey of the race to show Youngkin with a significant lead among likely voters — showed his supporters with a double-digit enthusiasm advantage.

Early vote analysis by TargetSmart, a Democratic data firm, also shows strong participation in early voting in GOP-dominated rural counties — though it’s difficult to derive meaning from those numbers because Virginia recently changed its voting laws, making comparisons to previous elections challenging.

“Across all categories of Republicans — from those who are over Trump, but remain open to Republicans, to the hardcore pro-Trump voters — interest level is extremely high, based on all the internal polls I’ve seen,” said Zack Roday, a Republican consultant based in Richmond who is working on several legislative races. “From suburban to exurban to rural, the enthusiasm is consistent.”

Any disappointment hardcore Trump voters may have felt about Youngkin, who was not seen as the most pro-Trump option for the nomination, runs up against the reality that Republicans haven’t won statewide in Virginia since 2009. Or as one Virginia Republican operative put it: “To a starving man, there’s no bad bread.”

Even so, a group tied to Democratic consultants still attempted to drive a wedge within the party by casting Youngkin as insufficiently conservative, Axios reported. The Accountability Virginia PAC targeted voters through digital ads, likely in an effort to depress turnout.

But Williams, the Republican legislative candidate, said that the party has “all collectively gotten behind and on board the Youngkin train,” and conversations with constituents reflect that unification.

“People say, ‘Look, he may not be your favorite, but he’s not Terry,’” Williams said. “We have to have an incredibly high turnout to offset what happens in northern Virginia, so that has resonated with the base. People understand that.”

Orignally published on 2021-10-29 08:30:33 by www.politico.com

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