Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:
What's going on with the Virginia governor's race?
Well, the story in US politics this week is this governor's race in Virginia. Virginia is a state that's gone increasingly democratic in recent years. And President Biden won it by 10 points just last year, but the Republican, Glenn Youngkin, finds himself in a position to potentially win the election if you believe the public opinion polling, which is showing he's either ahead or tied in most of the horse race polling, that the Democratic governor, the incumbent governor has approval ratings that are low enough to make it very hard for his successor to win an election in an evenly balanced state. Virginia's not an evenly balanced state. It leans Democratic. But third, and perhaps most importantly, the Republican's ahead on the key issue in this race: education.
Education has emerged as a top issue as Republicans have taken advantage of a backlash against local school boards, that's happening across the country over COVID-19 restrictions, including masking and remote learning, but also over what Republicans are calling Critical Race Theory, teaching about race and racism in schools that spurred a lot of parental anger that's been publicly expressed at school boards and is leading to a lot of partisan school board elections happening all over the country this November. This has created an opening for Youngkin who's ahead of the Democrat by double digits on the education issue and has as a lead with parents in polls.
It also shows a path back for Republicans among suburban voters that they largely lost during the Trump years. And you're going to hear a lot more about this in the 2022 midterms. A win or even a close loss in Virginia would be huge for the GOP. It would set off major warning bells for the Democrats, who are already struggling to push President Biden's fiscal policy over the line as Biden's approval ratings have dropped off and there's more concerns being expressed in polling about inflation, and the state of the economy.