Youngkin has 5-point lead in UMW governor’s race poll
Race appears tight with GOP advantage in all 3 races
In the most recent round of dueling gubernatorial poll results, Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin has a five-point lead among likely voters against Democrat Terry McAuliffe, Virginia’s former governor seeking a second, nonconsecutive term, according to a University of Mary Washington statewide survey conducted earlier this month.
In UMW’s poll of 1,000 Virginia adults conducted Sept. 7-13 by Research America Inc., Youngkin held 48% support of likely voters — 528 out of the total polled — against McAuliffe’s 43%. Third-party progressive candidate Princess Blanding had the support of 2% of likely voters, while others said they were undecided. The story changed among the 885 registered voters surveyed, with 46% favoring McAuliffe and 41% for Youngkin, followed by 2% for Blanding, who is running under the Liberation Party’s banner.
UMW called it a “tight contest,” with the differences between the two major-party candidates falling within margins of error, giving neither a clear lead. The margin of error for likely voters is 4.1%, while the margin for the total sample is 3.1%.
“To borrow from Mark Twain, the reports of the end of Virginia’s status as a swing state are greatly exaggerated,” Stephen J. Farnsworth, professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington and director of UMW’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies, said in a statement. “The large number of undecided voters at this stage demonstrates that either major party candidate can become the next governor of Virginia.”
Significantly for the gubernatorial race, UMW’s poll shows only three points difference between Youngkin and McAuliffe in Northern Virginia among likely voters — 48% to 45%, with the former governor ahead. However, Northern Virginia is considered a heavily blue region of the state that Democratic candidates usually carry easily.
Of three major nonpartisan polls taken the same time in Virginia, the contest definitely appears to be up for grabs. The Virginia Commonwealth University L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs reported Monday that McAuliffe has a nine-point lead over political newcomer Youngkin, as well as 23% of respondents saying they were undecided. The Washington Post-George Mason University poll released Saturday reported that McAuliffe led with 50% against Youngkin’s 47%.
UMW’s poll also showed down-ticket Republicans with narrow leads over Democrats among likely voters surveyed. Winsome Sears, the GOP candidate for lieutenant candidate, had 47% support over Democratic Del. Hala Ayala’s 41%, while Republican Del. Jason Miyares held 46% over Democratic incumbent Mark Herring’s 42% in the attorney general’s race. Those surveyed also expressed disapproval of the direction the country and the state are headed, with 48% saying they disapprove of President Joe Biden’s job performance and 44% approving of it.
“This is an electorate in a very foul mood,” Farnsworth said. “We shouldn’t be surprised. COVID has created the biggest health care and economic shocks to the world in decades, and we prematurely thought the crises were over. So it is no wonder that voters are expressing high levels of frustration.”
Early voting began last Friday and continues through Election Day on Nov. 2.