NORFOLK, Va. - With just over two weeks to go until Election Day in Virginia, both Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican are trying to navigate through inner-party dynamics.
McAuliffe is campaigning Friday with First Lady Jill Biden outside of Richmond, while Youngkin faces questions over how close his campaign is to former President Donald Trump.
Trump lost Virginia in 2020 by ten points. President Biden is facing a sinking approval rating nationally and in Virginia.
"Throughout the campaign, we've seen this back and forth. Both of the candidates have tried to walk the line of are we going to make this a state issues election or are we going to nationalize the election," said Dr. Ben Melusky, a political science professor at Old Dominion University.
Youngkin is trying to appeal to independent voters and maintain the base of the party, who supports former President Trump, Melusky said. McAuliffe is trying to avoid getting pulled down by Biden's falling poll numbers. Whoever is successful could help predict future elections.
"We typically think about Virginia gubernatorial elections and our off year elections as normally a kind of bellwether or an indicator of what the midterms will look like and what the presidential election will look like," said Melusky.
This week Youngkin responded to a GOP rally held in Virginia, featuring Steve Bannon. During the event, attendees said the Pledge of Allegiance to a flag a host said was present at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
Youngkin did not attend the event, but later called the Pledge of Allegiance incident "weird and wrong."
Reporters asked him whether he wants Trump to be campaign with him before Election Day. "The person who's going to be campaigning here for the next two and a half weeks is Glenn Youngkin," he answered. "I'm on the ballot."
McAulife is bringing big names to the area over the next week. Stacey Abrams is campaigning with him in Norfolk and Northern Virginia on Sunday. Former President Barack Obama is campaigning in Richmond next week.
Melusky says it's an effort to make up for lagging enthusiasm among Democratic voters. "You want to bring up some of these heavy hitters within the Democratic Party to try to stump for him and bring up enthusiasm," said Meluksy.
The candidates will also be hitting the ground in Hampton Roads over the weekend. McAuliffe is visiting cities throughout Hampton Roads. Youngkin is holding two events in Virginia Beach.