On Tuesday, November 2, Virginians will cast their vote for the next governor of Old Dominion. The race to date has been a back and forth contest that has grabbed the entire nation’s attention, bringing to the fore the idea that parents should influence what is taught in schools.
Terry McAuliffe (D) – who previously served as governor but was limited by the non-consecutive clause in the commonwealth’s Constitution – has been the firm favorite since securing the nomination and beating four progressive rivals. Republican Glenn Youngkin is a relative political newcomer who has walked a tightrope between Trump the movement and Trump the man in a state that rejected the 45th president by ten points in 2020.
This was initially thought to be an easy win for the blue team in a state that has largely rejected the GOP in recent years. However, as election day draws near, a confluence of negative associations, unpopular stances, and outright falsehoods have thrown a formerly safe bet into turbulent waters.
The Pollsters Speak
From July to early October, all polls, bar one, handed a convincing victory to Democrat McAuliffe, with leads ranging from one to nine points and an average of four and a half points. But all that changed in late September. Pundits suggest that the crucial tipping point occurred on September 29 during the gubernatorial debate when McAuliffe stated that he doesn’t “think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
Rightly or wrongly, this damning phrase has captured the Virginia tempest and set it loose on a politician who felt all but assured of victory.
The latest polls paint more of a Rorschach test than a definitive picture:
- FOX News – Youngkin +8
- Washington Post – McAuliffe +1
- Emerson – Tie
- Christopher Newport Univ. – McAuliffe +1
- USA Today/Suffolk – McAuliffe +1
- Monmouth – Tie
RealClearPolitics has Youngkin on a +0.9 advantage.
What the Gamblers Say
Betting odds tend to have a better track record than pollsters as they reflect folks putting their money where their confidence is, as opposed to a system that can over/under sample to edge a survey in the “right” direction. But what do the bookies say about the battle of the Virginia titans?
The fractional odds have Mcauliffe on 4/11 edging out Youngkin on 13/8, although much of the action seems to be heading towards the underdog. As November 2 draws closer, we’re likely to see the difference grow smaller, with some markets predicting a swing in the odds toward Younkin at the last minute.
It may come as a surprise that the betting markets are already hot and heavy for the 2024 presidential election. Until last week, President Biden was the firm favorite, just a fraction ahead of VP Kamala Harris. However, whether it’s the latest debacle on legacy spending, the aftermath of the Afghanistan withdrawal, or even the price of fish and gas, the table has undoubtedly turned. President Trump is now the bookmakers’ favorite to take the White House on 3/1, closely followed by Biden on 4/1 and Harris on 5/1.
Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis comes in fourth on 12/1, slightly ahead of former VP Mike Pence.
~ Read more from Mark Angelides.