President Joe Biden’s dramatic polling plummet is deflating Democrats and threatening to spoil the party’s once-certain victories in the 2021 gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey, according to the latest analysis.
New polls following the administration’s bungled Afghanistan withdrawal and inability to slow the spread of the coronavirus show a growing lack of faith in Biden which may extend to those who have embraced him, notably former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is making a comeback bid.
In a FiveThirtyEight analysis Wednesday, Virginia election expert Geoffrey Skelley said Biden’s swoon is impacting McAuliffe’s bid to be only the third former Virginia governor to win a second term.
“Now with a somewhat unpopular Democrat in the White House, the pendulum could swing back enough to give Virginia Republicans a real chance at victory,” he wrote.
Virginia should be an easy win for Democrats, especially given Biden won by 10 points in 2020. But questions about Biden, McAuliffe’s all-attack campaign, and Republican Glenn Youngkin’s steady effort have turned the race into a toss-up. Just this week, McAuliffe stumbled when the pro-mask Democrat was shown maskless on Amtrak.
Youngkin’s internal polling shows him even or ahead. And while pundits are quick to dismiss insider data, Skelley said, “given Biden’s recent drop in approval, it wouldn’t be a shock if Youngkin were, in fact, running neck-and-neck with McAuliffe.”
Youngkin has recently stepped up his advertising and put his focus on economics, promising to end the state’s grocery tax and cut taxes generally.
He received some help today when free-market think tank the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy estimated that McAuliffe’s spending and tax plans would cost Virginia $16.6 billion, or $5,400 per household.
How bad off is Biden nationally? The new Quinnipiac University National Poll had him at just 42% approval and sinking in every category. "If there ever was a honeymoon for President Biden, it is clearly over. This is, with few exceptions, a poll full of troubling negatives — from overall job approval, to foreign policy, to the economy,” said Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy.
Some critics are even suggesting that Biden is in jeopardy of passing former President Jimmy Carter down the list of bad presidents.
And Skelley said that New Jersey could also be in the mix of troubled elections. “It's possible conditions may have shifted somewhat, although still probably not as much as in Virginia,” he said.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has a good lead over former state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, but Skelley warned that continued changes in the national political state could lead to an election surprise.
“Of the two gubernatorial elections this fall, New Jersey is definitely the undercard event. Yet, while New Jersey is a bluer state than Virginia, Murphy would be the first Democratic governor to win reelection since Brendan Byrne in 1977. To stop Murphy from pulling this off, Ciattarelli likely needs Biden’s standing to worsen and some of his attacks against Murphy to stick,” said the analysis.