Youngkin has a slight edge heading into Election Day in a race that could be referendum on Biden

Education and Critical Race Theory have become dominant issues in the Virginia gubernatorial race

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and businessman Glenn Youngkin are locked in a tight race for the governor's mansion heading into Election Day. 

Youngkin's campaign has been surging in the final days of a race that some view as a referendum on President Biden's record in office. The results of the race could also be a bellwether for the 2022 midterm elections next November when Democrats fight to hold their slim majority in the House and Senate.

RealClearPolitics latest polling average shows Youngkin has surged over the last few weeks and is now ahead by 1.7 points. Youngkin was up by 8% in a Fox News survey released last Thursday. 

According to FiveThirtyEight, Youngkin is slightly ahead of McAuliffe while other polls have them virtually tied.

Education is an issue that has defined the race between McAuliffe and Youngkin. In the final gubernatorial debate in September, McAuliffe said that parents shouldn't be "telling schools what they should teach." 

Youngkin drew a contrast between his campaign and McAuliffe's on education.

"You believe school systems should tell children what to do,” said Youngkin. "I believe parents should be in charge of their kids' education."

The Youngkin campaign used McAuliffe's statement in campaign ads throughout the state, and McAuliffe tried to contain the fallout from his comment.

McAuliffe said in a campaign ad that his comment was taken out of context and that he has "always valued the concerns of parents."

Critical Race Theory became a key issue in the race after a candidate forum last month. McAuliffe was asked about the issue and emphasized that it isn't currently part of the curriculum in Virginia public schools. McAuliffe referred to the criticism of CRT as a "racist dog whistle."

Youngkin has vowed not to allow CRT to be taught in Virginia public schools.

According to a Fox News report, the Virginia Department of Education website recommended in 2015 that Virginia schools should embrace CRT.

Despite Biden's dropping approval rating, McAuliffe has embraced the president, holding a joint rally with Biden in Arlington with about two weeks left in the campaign. The rally was the second he held with Biden during the race. McAuliffe also said during a recent campaign stop that the country has had "great success" with Biden. 

Throughout the campaign, McAuliffe often connected Youngkin with former President Trump in his stump speeches. He's been referring to Youngkin as "Trump in khakis."

During his final campaign rally on Monday evening, McAuliffe said he won't allow Youngkin and Trump to tell women what to do with their bodies.

He also told the crowd that Youngkin was holding an event with Trump on election eve. 

Trump participated in a tele-rally to encourage Virginia voters to support Youngkin but it was not an official Youngkin campaign event.