The post-presidential election year Virginia gubernatorial race has long been seen as a bellwether for the national environment and the White House party-in-power heading into the midterms. Only one man has been able to break the four-decade-long streak of the opposite party winning control in the Old Dominion — Terry McAuliffe in 2013. As the former governor seeks to return to office, he faces an even more formidable challenge than eight years ago. He has a fiercer, less polarizing and more cash-flush GOP nominee in Glenn Youngkin and a worsening national environment for Democrats as President Biden's approval numbers continue to drop.

Polling has long reflected a competitive contest, but since August, the race has tightened considerably. At the beginning of August, FiveThirtyEight's average gave McAuliffe a nearly 8-point advantage. Now, that's down to just 3.3 points as of Thursday. There have been outlier polls on both sides that we don't believe reflect where the race stands. A University of Mary Washington survey (Sept. 7-13, 528 LV) had some questionable weighting and gave Youngkin a five-point lead. Similarly, last

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