From The Hill:
In what has become a critical bellwether of the national political environment the year before a midterm election, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and former Carlyle Group chief executive Glenn Youngkin (R) are locked in a neck-and-neck battle to identify every persuadable voter in a commonwealth that has trended increasingly Democratic in recent years.
But to judge from the public polls, the two men are hunting for a voter who barely exists: Surveys show the race to be Virginia’s next governor is virtually tied, and incredibly stable amid a turbulent political environment in which issues far beyond their control — a raging global epidemic, a chaotic exit from Afghanistan and even a potentially cataclysmic debt default — dominate the headlines….
Pollsters say the apparently immoveable electorate is a result of a heated political environment that has only become more entrenched on their respective sides.
“It seems that partisan tribalism has deepened so much over the past five years that what we generally talk about as the fundamentals of a race are pretty much etched in stone from day one,” said Patrick Murray, the polling director at Monmouth. He said a similar dynamic is happening in Monmouth’s home state of New Jersey, where Gov. Phil Murphy (D) maintains a stable lead over his Republican challenger.
Those results are reminiscent of California’s recent recall election, in which Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) survived a significant threat to his political career by casting the election as a referendum on the national Republican ticket, and by tying his most prominent rival — radio host Larry Elder (R) — to former President Donald Trump.