Va. governor’s race coming down to the wire
VCU, CNU polls show McAuliffe with razor-thin lead
One week out from Election Day, the Virginia governor’s race remains very close, according to two polls released this week. Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee, has small leads over Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin that are within the surveys’ margins of error.
Released Wednesday morning, Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center for Civic Leadership’s poll has McAuliffe with 49% of support among likely voters, compared with Youngkin’s 48%, meaning that third-party progressive candidate Princess Blanding’s 1% polling among voters could potentially impact the race. The CNU poll’s margin of error is 3.5%. According to Tuesday’s poll from Virginia Commonwealth University’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Government, McAuliffe has a 41% lead against Youngkin’s 38%, within the poll’s 5.03% margin of error.
Down-ticket Democrats — Attorney General Mark Herring and lieutenant governor candidate Del. Hala Ayala — also have one-point leads over their Republican counterparts, Del. Jason Miyares and Winsome Sears, reports the CNU poll, which has 5% of respondents undecided between Miyares and Herring, and 4% undecided between Ayala and Sears. Similarly, VCU reports only a one point difference between Ayala and Sears, with the Democrat carrying 36% of support. VCU shows Herring with a four-point lead over Miyares, at 39% to 35%.
VCU’s survey shows more voters who are unhappy with either candidate in all three races, as well as a lowering of support for Gov. Ralph Northam. Only 46% approve of the job he is doing, a five-point drop.
“The poll reflects a tightening of the race for the three top offices. The number of voters unhappy with either candidate for governor and the decrease in Northam’s approval rating is noteworthy,” former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder said in a statement.
“McAuliffe is facing strong headwinds in a state that has historically selected governors from the party not in the White House and with a Democratic president whose approval rating is underwater,” Wason Center Research Director Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo said in a statement. “Republican voters also appear hungrier for a win and increasingly see a chance to take a statewide race for the first time since 2009.”
CNU’s poll shows that 80% of Republican likely voters are “very enthusiastic” about the election, compared with 65% of Democratic likely voters. That enthusiasm gap is a GOP advantage that has surged nine points since the Wason Center’s Oct. 8 survey.
VCU’s poll surveyed 808 adults in Virginia from Oct. 9 to Oct. 21, and when considering likely voters only, the margin of error was 6.44%. CNU polled 944 likely Virginia voters from Oct. 17 through Oct. 25.
This year’s gubernatorial race far exceeded previous campaign spending. According to the latest campaign finance reports, Youngkin and McAuliffe collectively raised $117 million through Oct. 21, compared to $64.7 million raised by Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie at this stage four years ago, the Virginia Public Access Project reported. A former CEO of The Carlyle Group, Youngkin has spent $20 million so far on his campaign, including $3.5 million in October, bringing his total fundraising to $58.8 million. McAuliffe, a prodigious Democratic Party fundraiser, raised $28 million in campaign contributions this month and has brought in a total of $58.2 million.
McAuliffe has also pulled in several marquee names to support his campaign in recent days, including President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama, first lady Jill Biden and voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams. Music superstar Pharrell Williams, a Virginia Beach native, and Vice President Kamala Harris are scheduled to appear at a campaign event for McAuliffe on Friday in Norfolk.