Former President Barack Obama will campaign for Terry McAuliffe and Virginia Democrats ahead of the November elections, the gubernatorial nominee announced on Tuesday.
“The stakes are so huge,” McAuliffe said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “If people don’t understand, they come out in presidential years, but they have to come out in this off year because literally their lives depend on it.”
McAuliffe said Obama was campaigning for him on Saturday, but his campaign later clarified in a statement that the event will be held next Saturday on October 23.
McAuliffe and Virginia Democrats have grown more concerned in recent weeks that their party’s base voters are not as focused on the race as they need to win, raising fears that a low turnout election with a more conservative electorate could lead Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin to victory next month.
“If people don’t wake up,” a Democratic operative in Virginia told CNN recently, “we are in trouble.”
McAuliffe has tried to rouse voters by routinely saying the off-year race is going to be tight and, of late, noting that President Joe Biden’s popularity in Virginia has slumped. “The President is unpopular today, unfortunately, here in Virginia, so we have got to plow through,” the former governor said on a virtual call with supporters.
Obama is one of the biggest names in Democratic politics and has long been able to garner considerable media attention and engage the party’s base. Obama won Virginia twice, too, by 6 percentage points in 2008 and nearly 4 percentage points in 2012.
Recent polls show a tight race between Youngkin and McAuliffe. A Monmouth University poll released in late September found McAuliffe “maintains a small lead,” taking 48% to Youngkin’s 43%, similar to their survey in August. A Fox News poll released around the same time found a similar split, with McAuliffe at 48% to Youngkin’s 44%.
Obama will be just one of many top Democrats to campaign for McAuliffe. Stacey Abrams, a top Georgia Democrat and voting rights activist, will campaign for the Democratic ticket this weekend, while first lady Jill Biden will campaign with McAuliffe on Friday. The President campaigned with McAuliffe in Northern Virginia over the summer.
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