President Biden on Tuesday predicted that the Virginia’s governor’s race would be “very close” with Democrat Terry McAuliffe eking out a win — but he also hedged for a possible upset, saying the results shouldn’t be seen as a referendum on his presidency.
Polls close at 7 pm Tuesday and surveys show a tight contest between Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin and McAullife, despite Biden winning the state last year by a comfortable 10 percentage points.
“I think we’re going to win in Virginia. And you know, you’re reporting it being close. The race is very close. So it’s about who shows up, who turns out. And granted, I did win by a large margin,” Biden said during a press conference in Scotland, where he was attending an anti-global warming conference.
“But look, you know, the off-year is always unpredictable, especially when we don’t have a general election going on at the same time. That’s been the case up and down, you know, for a long time, especially as Virginia’s turned more and more blue.”
Biden added: “I don’t believe and I’ve not seen any evidence that whether or not I am doing well or poorly, whether or not I’ve got my agenda passed or not, is going to have any real impact on winning or losing.”
Biden has attempted to make the Virginia campaign about former President Donald Trump, rather than about his own policies. Biden invoked Trump’s name 24 times last week during a 17-minute speech for McAuliffe, who formerly served one term as governor.
The campaign focused in part on Biden as his approval ratings plummeted amid high inflation and a supply-chain bottleneck following a chaotic US pullout from Afghanistan, a continued US-Mexico border crisis and a resurgence of COVID-19 infections caused by the more contagious Delta variant.
Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday warned that “what happens in Virginia will in large part determine what happens in 2022, 2024 and on.”
The election comes as Biden seeks to hold together Democrats in Congress to pass a pair of massive bills that could define his legacy. House leftists are threatening to derail a $1.2 trillion Senate-passed infrastructure bill as leverage to force Senate Democratic centrists to support a larger $1.75 trillion social and environmental spending bill.
New Jersey also has a gubernatorial election Tuesday, with most polls showing incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy ahead, but some surveys showing Republican Jack Ciattarelli within striking distance.
“I think we’re gonna win New Jersey as well,” Biden said.
In 2009, Republican candidates won the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races in a significant blow to President Barack Obama during his first year in office. The wins gave Republicans momentum and they flipped control of the House in 2010, blocking Obama’s congressional agenda and allowing for more aggressive legislative oversight.