McAuliffe and Youngkin in last-minute scramble for rally voters

Democrat Terry McAuliffe, Republican Glenn Youngkin, raced to get their party's base voters on Sunday in Virginia's opposite ends.

McAuliffe and Youngkin in last-minute scramble for rally voters

They worked together to increase turnout in a bitter and deadlocked contest for governor. This will be closely watched as a gauge ahead of next year’s midterms elections.

McAuliffe was governor from 2014-2018. Democrats are trying to avoid disaster now that Youngkin has been favoured by public polling. Republicans are optimistic about their chances at the commonwealth. They haven't won any statewide races since 2009.

Youngkin left Virginia's far southwest tip, a Republican stronghold, after he had toured northern Virginia on Saturday. His bus tour featured a prayer breakfast and a worship service at the home of a state legislator, as well as a meet-and greet in the state’s most remote corner and an evening get out-the-vote rally.

McAuliffe was elected governor of the only state where its executive cannot serve consecutive terms. He spent Saturday in the state's southeast corner, before stopping in suburban Richmond and northern Virginia on Sunday.

McAuliffe spoke to a cheering crowd from Henrico County's well-to-do neighborhood about the stakes of his second term.

"I have done this job before. I was pro-business and pro-progressive. This state was open and welcoming. It created many jobs. He said, "We don't want to go back."

Youngkin spoke at a rally held in Abingdon and predicted that Republicans would win all three statewide races, and regain control of the House of Delegates. This is where all 100 seats are listed on the ballot.

He said, "This is an opportunity for us to make statements that big government control will lose and liberty and freedom are going to win in Virginia," as cheers erupted from the crowd.

McAuliffe brought in a number of celebrities, including former President Barack Obama, President Joe Biden and Pharrell Williams. Youngkin has, however, avoided any public campaign visits by well-known party aides who would normally flock to a hot race.

This includes Donald Trump, former President of the United States, who will be holding a telerally on Monday for Youngkin. Youngkin has stated that he will not participate. Youngkin was more open to Trump during the Republican nomination contest. However, Youngkin has been careful to keep his distance as he attempts to win moderate voters in a state where Trump lost 10 percentage points to Biden in 2020.

Saturday was the last day of early voting in Virginia. This has been greatly expanded over the past two years under unified Democratic control.

In 2020, legislation was passed that eliminated the requirement to give one of a limited number of excuses to vote absentee. Any qualified voter can now cast a ballot beginning 45 days prior to the election.

According to data from the Virginia Public Access Project, more than 1.1 million of the state's 5.9 million registered voters cast ballots early this year. This is a sharp decrease from the 2.8million early votes cast in the presidential election last year, but it's a significant increase over the mere 195.634 early votes received during the previous gubernatorial campaign, before voting reforms were implemented.

Christina Freundlich, McAuliffe's spokeswoman, stated that the campaign expects many Democrats will return to their preandemic voting habits in 2012 and favor in-person voting on Election Day.

McAuliffe maintained that Democrats still had a significant lead in early voting at the Henrico rally.

Virginia voters don't register according to party affiliations so it was not immediately clear how the early vote split was. McAuliffe's campaign cited "strong" numbers in blue-leaning areas in northern Virginia as evidence that momentum was on their side.

Although Republicans generally oppose the Democrats' electoral reforms, they have encouraged their supporters to vote earlier this year.

According to a VPAP analysis, Youngkin was in southwest Virginia on Sunday when the early voting rate was significantly lower than the state's overall rate.

Youngkin could benefit from a strong turnout on Election Day as he tries to overcome northern Virginia's blue tilt.

Monday's campaigning will continue at a frenetic pace. Each candidate will make stops in Roanoke and Virginia Beach as well as the Richmond area, northern Virginia, and other parts of the state.

The polls will open on Tuesday, from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m.

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