Just days after President Joe Biden stumped for the Democratic candidate for Virginia governor, Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin has surged to an 8-point lead in the latest polling in the state.
Youngkin drew 53% support to Terry McAuliffe's 45% among likely voters in the latest Fox News poll of likely Virginia voters before the polls close Tuesday night.
Before Biden's campaign appearance, the same poll had McAuliffe up 5 points (51%-46%) two weeks ago.
Republicans are hailing Youngkin's showing in the polls as a bellwether against Biden, Democrats and Virginia public school curricula, which some conservatives view as liberal indoctrination.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., tweeted Thursday night:
''At this point, nothing is going to save Terry McAuliffe's failing campaign.''
Conservative political pundits hail likely voters as polling more true to the eventual results, because it reflects voter intentions and interest in the race. The pool of registered voters have Youngkin with just a 1-point edge (48%-47%) now, while McAuliffe led among that group by 11 points just two weeks ago (52%-41%), according to Fox News.
''With the race essentially tied among the full registered voter universe, McAuliffe could still pull this off,'' Fox News Democratic pollster Chris Anderson said. ''But it would take something big to ignite enthusiasm for McAuliffe's candidacy and a massively effective get-out-the-vote effort.''
Youngkin supporters are more enthused, as 79% say they are extremely interested in the race, compared with 69% of McAuliffe backers.
Education has been a hot-button issue in the race, particularly since McAuliffe denies that critical race theory is being taught in schools. He has also said that parents should not ''be telling schools what they should teach.''
''Education is a top issue, which is usually good news for the Democrats since they are typically seen as more capable in that domain,'' Fox News Republican pollster Daron Shaw said. ''But Youngkin has turned the issue on its head, so it's about curriculum and parent involvement rather than spending. The result is the GOP is currently preferred on perhaps the critical issue for this election.''
Youngkin has vowed to ban critical race theory in public schools on his first day in office.
Critical race theory is defined by the Encyclopaedia Britannica as the concept in which race is a socially constructed category ingrained in U.S. law intended to maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites. It holds that American society is inherently or systemically racist.
''Here's a guy who stood up and said parents don't have a role in their kids' education, and he wants to put government between parents and children,'' Youngkin told co-hosts Sean Spicer and Lyndsay Keith on Newsmax's ''Spicer & Co.'' on Thursday.
''I mean, in Virginia, we have a law that says parents have a fundamental right to make decisions with regard to their kids' education. Terry McAuliffe doesn't believe it.''
The Fox News poll was conducted Oct. 24-27 among 1,212 Virginia registered voters and 1,015 who were classified as likely voters. The margin of sampling error for registered voters is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, plus or minus 3 points for likely voters.
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