Steve Kornacki explains how Youngkin could win the Virginia governor’s race

He advises to keep an eye on Lynchburg

10 News Anchor John Carlin spoke with NBC News Political Correspondent Steve Kornacki to get a closer look at how the numbers are breaking down for both.

10 News Anchor John Carlin debriefed with NBC political analyst Steve Kornacki, who is drilling down into the numbers to see the trends in the race for Virginia Governor.

“It probably doesn’t take a degree in data science to tell you I see a close race,” Kornacki said.

“Terry McAuliffe leading in the average but it’s barely a point. We’ve seen a couple in the last 24 hours that have it dead even. So the trend here has been more and more towards a toss-up race ... And of course, there’s this trend in Virginia. We can show you in modern times here every Virginia gubernatorial election almost, I should say, every Virginia gubernatorial election in the modern era - the winner of the Virginia governor‘s race has come from the opposite party of the president. That’s what you’re seeing here. If you control the White House, in all but one modern Virginia race - if you control the White House, you have lost the Virginia governorship. The only exception was 2013. The president was Barack Obama a democrat - and the governor of Virginia, winner of that election was a Democrat Terry McAuliffe.”

Kornacki says he believes there are two key localities to watch in Central, Southside and Southwest Virginia: Lynchburg and Montgomery County. Those areas are Republican strongholds, where Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden in 2020.

“But yeah, it’s key. Here, let’s look at it from the standpoint if you’re Youngkin and you’re looking at your neck of the woods, you want just about everything here to be red. It’s almost all red right now. But you could do better. This is the Trump/Biden race from 2020. You see Montgomery County Biden was able to win by six points. If you were Youngkin, you want to be winning there. If you look at the city of Roanoke that’s probably one that’s going to stay blue. But if you look over in Lynchburg Biden flipped Lynchburg. If you’re Youngkin, you want to flip that back. You want to be making inroads in places where Joe Biden had success in 2020. ... If you’re Youngkin. It’s not just winning them like a Franklin County, you want to be matching that Trump number. You want to be getting the same level of enthusiasm the same surge of support. Maximize everything you can get out of a place like that,” he said.

Kornacki says that he believes McAuliffe will need strong support in Northern Virginia if he is to win, while Youngkin needs to do better than Trump did.

“I mean that’s the big wildcard. Northern Virginia - obviously the biggest reason Virginia has gone blue in the last decade or two. But here’s the question. Northern Virginia can be blue. If you’re Youngkin’s campaign, you just don’t want it to be as deep a shade of blue as it’s been. Here’s an example. Loudoun County, DC suburbs, DC exurbs, big county. Look at this. Biden won it by 25 points last year over Trump. If you’re Youngkin, you’re not trying to win Loudoun County, but if you can keep that margin down to say 12 points, 10 points, something like that - if you can cut into that margin that Joe Biden got in places like Loudon County, that can make a big difference statewide. The Youngkin campaign is trying to limit its losses in Northern Virginia. And then it’s really trying to maximize its strengths in southwest Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley, Southside - places like that. Maximize the strength there, minimize the losses there. It’s certainly possible they could overcome that Democratic advantage in the state,” Kornacki said.

You can watch the full conversation 10 News had with Kornacki below:

10 News Anchor John Carlin talks with NBC News National Political Correspondent Steve Kornacki about the upcoming governor's race in Virginia

About the Author:

John Carlin co-anchors the 5, 5:30, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts on WSLS 10.