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Republican Glenn Youngkin’s victory over Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s gubernatorial race last month is causing some prominent Democrats to reassess whether former President Donald Trump should be a focal point in campaigns going forward.
“I just don’t think [Trump] needs to be the central focus,” Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, the incoming chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, told reporters this week.
PHOENIX, ARIZONA – JULY 24: Former U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to speak at the Rally To Protect Our Elections conference on July 24, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. . (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images) (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
“What you can do is continue to focus on your issues and [decide] if it’s worth reminding people how this candidate got elected, and what’s coming,” Cooper added. “Because our democracy is really at stake now.”
McAuliffe, who served as Virginia’s governor from 2014 to 2018 and was leading Youngkin by ten points in September, lost to Youngkin by two points to close out a campaign where he focused heavily on linking Youngkin to Trump.
During the final days of the campaign, McAuliffe referenced Trump’s name 13 times in a 15-minute speech.
Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin tosses a signed basketball to supporters at an election night party in Chantilly, Va., early Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, after he defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Earlier this month, Democratic pollster Brian Stryker wrote a memo to fellow Democrats warning that the party will get “killed” if they make the midterm elections about Trump.
“[I]f we are running 2022 on ‘Republican candidate = Trump,’ we’re getting killed,” Stryker said in the memo while outlining several “challenges” the party will have to win going forward.
“Our weak national brand left us vulnerable. Voters couldn’t name anything that Democrats had done, except a few who said we passed the infrastructure bill,” Stryker wrote. “That bill didn’t overcome their opinions that we have spent the last year infighting and careening from crisis to crisis.”
The president stands at 43% approval and 51% disapproval in a NPR/Marist national survey released on Thursday. A day earlier, a national poll from Monmouth University indicated a 40% approval and a 50% disapproval. Both surveys were conducted in recent days.
President Biden listens to a reporters question after delivering remarks on the November jobs report, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
An average of all the most recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics puts Biden’s approval at 42% and his disapproval at 52%. The average included a large survey from The Wall Street Journal conducted last month that had the president well underwater, at 41%-57%.
Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report