Democratic Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe acknowledged to surrogates on a recent video teleconference call that President Biden is “unpopular” in the commonwealth ahead of what is expected to be a close election next month.
“We gotta get Democrats out to vote,” McAuliffe said on the call. “We are facing a lot of headwinds from Washington.
“As you know, the president is unpopular today, unfortunately, here in Virginia,” McAuliffe went on. “So, we have got to plow through.”
The soundbite was posted on Twitter by the Republican National Committee (RNC) Monday evening. The McAuliffe campaign did not respond to requests for comment.
Polls show a tight race between McAuliffe, a former head of the Democratic National Committee who served as Virginia governor between 2014 and 2018, and Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin. The latest RealClearPolitics average shows McAuliffe with a 4.3 percentage point lead over Youngkin as the race enters its final month.
Republicans have not won a gubernatorial election in Virginia since Bob McDonnell accomplished the feat in 2009. But the GOP has hope that the faltering performance of state and national Democrats can boost Youngkin’s campaign.
A poll taken in September by the Washington Post and the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University found that 46 percent of registered Virginia voters approved of Biden’s job performance, while 51 percent disapproved. The same poll gave mixed reviews to outgoing Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, with 48 percent of registered voters approving of his job performance and 45 percent disapproving.
The polling news hasn’t gotten any better for the president, as a Quinnipiac survey released Wednesday gave him a record-low approval rating of 38 percent.
“The people of Virginia are rejecting Joe Biden,” RNC Rapid Response Director Tommy Pigott tweeted Monday night. “And just like Virginia is rejecting Biden, voters will reject McAuliffe in November!”
McAuliffe has had his own problems on the campaign trial. He was strongly criticized after saying in a debate last week, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach” in response to Youngkin, who had argued that parents should be more involved in the decisions of local school districts.
The issue of who controls local schools has taken center stage nationally after the Justice Department announced Monday that the FBI would take the lead in responding to a purported uptick in threats against public school administrators and staff in recent months. Critics say the move is meant to criminalize dissent by parents on issues such as mask mandates and critical race theory.