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Youngkin, McAuliffe Tangle Over Education in Bid for Suburban Virginia Voters | Elections

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What worries suburbanites extra: the coronavirus or what their youngsters are being taught in faculties?

The reply to that query might decide who wins Virginia’s razor-close gubernatorial race subsequent week and should reverberate in subsequent 12 months’s midterm elections.

Virginia has voted Democratic for president in the final 4 election cycles, and President Joe’s Biden’s double-digit win was due in giant half to inroads Democrats made in the suburbs.

But GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, a rich businessman pushing a socially conservative agenda, is inside attain of retaking the governor’s mansion for his celebration, in giant half due to a “mother and father matter” marketing campaign he has launched that accuses Democrats – and Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe in specific – of taking away mother and father’ management of their youngsters’s training.

Youngkin launched a TV advert this week that includes a mum or dad who claims her little one had nightmares after being required to learn the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Beloved” in a sophisticated highschool literature class. The guide, by Toni Morrison and primarily based on a real story, depicts the horrors of slavery with graphics descriptions of intercourse and homicide.

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McAuliffe, who served as Virginia governor from 2014-18 (Virginia doesn’t allow consecutive phrases) vetoed a invoice that might enable mother and father to excuse their youngsters from studying books they noticed as sexually express. McAuliffe mentioned on the time that the definition of “sexually express” was not clear and that the choice was finest made by faculty boards.

In response to his opponent’s new advert, McAuliffe launched an announcement calling the advert “racist.” McAuliffe additionally tied Youngkin to former President Donald Trump, who has endorsed Youngkin however has not campaigned for the GOP candidate in Virginia, the place a private Trump go to may encourage Democrats and anti-Trump independents McAuliffe wants to point out up on the polls.

“In the ultimate week of this race, Glenn Youngkin has doubled down on the identical divisive tradition wars which have fueled his marketing campaign from the very starting,” McAuliffe mentioned in the assertion. “Youngkin’s closing message of guide banning and silencing esteemed Black authors is a racist canine whistle designed to gin up help from essentially the most excessive parts of his celebration – primarily his prime endorser and surrogate, Donald Trump.”

Youngkin has additionally pledged to ban, on his first day, the educating of “essential race principle” in faculties. The thought – which posits that racism is pervasive and baked into the muse of the U.S. authorized system and society as a complete – is just not a part of the Ok-12 curriculum in Virginia. Politifact rated his cost in any other case as “false.”

But Youngkin’s message has resonated with many Virginia mother and father, who say they fear their child might be made to really feel responsible about being white.

“Our freedom is at stake. Our training system has gone loopy,” says Wanda Dawson, a Marshall, Virginia, resident, as she attended a latest rally for Youngkin. “It makes mother and father wish to throw up.”

Former Vice President Mike Pence – a possible 2024 presidential candidate, ought to Trump sit out the race – additionally was set to ship an deal with Tuesday afternoon on “instructional freedom,” a difficulty that might not solely encourage voters in subsequent week’s election, however contests subsequent 12 months.

Biden gained suburban voters by a 50-48% margin nationally in 2020, and Democrats imagine that the shift from 2016 (when Trump took the suburbs, 49% to 45%, in opposition to Democrat Hillary Clinton) have been essential to each Biden’s win and the successes of congressional Democrats. Suburban voters are thought of a vital swing vote subsequent 12 months – when Democrats face a frightening problem as they search to hold onto their slender management of the House and Senate – in addition to in 2024.

McAuliffe, in the meantime, bests Youngkin in public polls on one other matter necessary to Virginians – the pandemic. Polling reveals that voters in Virginia imagine McAuliffe would do a greater job dealing with the pandemic and are extra aligned with the Democrat on masks and vaccine mandates – which Youngkin opposes.

But even that benefit is nuanced for McAuliffe. A ballot launched Monday by Emerson College – which has the 2 candidates tied at 48% help every – discovered that whereas a plurality (23%) of McAuliffe voters mentioned the coronavirus was a very powerful problem going through Virginians, a plurality (34%) of Youngkin voters mentioned training was a very powerful matter.

McAuliffe staffers level to a Fox News ballot exhibiting that the previous Democratic governor fares higher with mother and father than Youngkin, with 49% supporting McAuliffe and 40% backing the Republican nominee. But Youngkin’s relentless concentrate on parental management of training seems to have moved the needle.

For McAuliffe, the problem is to get a dispirited Democratic base, together with Democratic-leaning independents, out to vote. Former President Barack Obama was in Richmond final weekend to rally the Democratic troops. Biden is about to look with McAuliffe on Tuesday evening in Arlington, a county Biden gained overwhelmingly in 2020.

A McAuliffe win will carry an enormous sigh of aid to Democrats, who fended off a recall effort of the Democratic governor of California, Gavin Newsom, final month, and who wish to gear up for more difficult races subsequent 12 months. But a Youngkin win will present the GOP with a strong blueprint for taking the suburbs again subsequent 12 months and past.