Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Early Voting Is Underway in Virginia

The entire Virginia General Assembly is up this year and Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) is betting the farm on winning it. He has spent the past year out on the hustings campaigning with candidates for the state Senate and House of Delegates. His argument is simple: "If Republicans get the trifecta, then I can carry out my program." The Democrats' argument is equally simple: "The program he wants to get through is banning abortion." Polls have been scarce and haven't focused on individual seats, just "Which party do you prefer?" That doesn't tell us much. If Youngkin pulls it off and gets the trifecta, he will have half the Republican billionaires in the country on the phone the day after Election Day, begging him to challenge Donald Trump for president and offering to throw millions of dollars his way if he jumps in. He's the Great White Hope.

But the Virginia elections are more than your usual partisan elections. For many years, Republicans have opposed early voting in all its forms. Youngkin is changing that. Virginia has 45 days of early voting this year. Youngkin supports early voting in all its forms. He even wants Virginia Republicans to sign up for permanent absentee voting, so they will be mailed a ballot automatically for all future elections. His argument is that since Democrats support early voting, Election Day starts out with the Democrats hundreds of thousands of votes ahead. If there is bad weather on Election Day, Republicans don't vote and Democrats win. It's crazy to give them that advantage. He is entirely right about this.

However, Donald Trump and many Republicans have strongly opposed early voting for years, so Youngkin is asking for something that many Republicans instinctively oppose. It may be having an effect, but it is hard to compare this year to 2019 because the law changed in 2021. So far, only 4.7% of registered voters have cast a ballot. In 2019, overall turnout, early and on Election Day, was 42%, so we can't say much yet. Nevertheless, it is clear that early voting in Republican parts of the state is up compared to previous years, so Youngkin's campaign is having some effect, but it is small and uneven so far.

Also, voting fatigue is possible for Virginians because Virginia holds elections every year. In 2021, it was for governor. In 2022, it was for the U.S. House. In 2023, it is for the General Assembly. In 2024, it will be for the presidency, Sen. Tim Kaine's (D) seat, and the U.S. House. In 2025, it will be for governor again. In 2026, it will be for Mark Warner's (D) Senate seat and the U.S. House again. (V)

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