CNN  — 

Just days before the crucial Virginia governor’s election, there appears to be a passion gap between the parties that should worry every Democrat looking at the race as a harbinger of things to come in 2022.

The top-line numbers in a new Washington Post-Schar School poll suggest that the race between former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and businessman Glenn Youngkin (R) is a toss-up. McAulliffe is at 49% to Youngkin’s 48% among likely voters.

But dig into the numbers a bit and you find something concerning for Democrats.

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Overall, 46% of likely voters approve of the job Joe Biden is doing as President, while 53% disapprove. Which isn’t terrible – although both Biden and McAuliffe would prefer if those numbers were reversed.

The problem becomes more apparent when you look at those who “strongly” approve of Biden’s performance in office and, conversely, those who “strongly” disapprove of how he’s done.

Biden’s strong approval number is 21%. His strong disapproval number? 44%. That’s more than double because, well, math.

What those “strong” numbers generally indicate is base engagement and enthusiasm. And what those numbers, in particular, tell us is that Republicans are far more motivated at the moment than Democrats.

That base enthusiasm disparity may not be determinative on Tuesday.  Virginia is now a state that clearly leans toward Democrats in anything close to a neutral political environment, and that makes McAuliffe a narrow favorite ahead of the vote.

But if Youngkin wins, the passion delta between the GOP base and the Democratic one will likely be the reason.

The Point: In a close race, energy and enthusiasm matter. And it appears Republicans have the edge on that front headed into the final weekend of the contest.