Virginia gov race could come down to early voting

Politics

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (NewsNation Now) — There are less than 24 hours until early voting ends in Virginia, and Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin is still locked in a toss-up with Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Political observers are framing this as an early referendum on the Biden presidency, and a potential look-ahead to 2022 midterms. 

A Youngkin win over former Gov. McAuliffe would be a big upset in a state that has turned a deeper shade of blue over the past several elections.

One key element of this race is early voting. Virginia has one of the longest early voting periods in the country, lasting almost six weeks.

Even on a dreary, flooded Friday, voters still streamed into an Alexandria polling place to cast their votes ahead of Tuesday’s election deadline.

The pandemic could push more people to vote early this year than in 2017. More people want to cast their ballots when it’s convenient and rather than crowding together on one day. 

So far nearly 800,000 ballots have been cast in person and by mail as of this Tuesday.

“We’re ready for a change, don’t know what that is but we’re ready for a change,” Joann Loynachan said as she cast a vote for Youngkin.

“We need help and support whatever we can get so we just gotta stay strong,” Jermain Tiemain said of his candidate of choice, McAuliffe.

Those who haven’t voted early by Saturday will go to the polls on Tuesday.

Both candidates are holding get out the vote rallies Friday. McAuliffe is with Vice President Kamala Harris in Norfolk, a heavily Democratic area, and Youngkin is in an area of the state that is more reliably Republican.

Harris is one of several big-name Democrats who have campaigned with McAuliffe this fall. Former President Barack Obama and current President Biden have also shown up.

By contrast, Youngkin has kept former President Donald Trump at arm’s length. Trump recently announced he’d do a tele-event, but not a rally, for Youngkin.

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