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New Poll: Governor's Race Virtual Deadlock

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McAuliffe and Youngkin in a virtual tie in race for governor

RICHMOND — In the race to become the next governor of Virginia, 40 percent of likely voters would vote for Terry McAuliffe while 37 percent would vote for Glenn Youngkin, according to a new statewide poll conducted by the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Virginia voters who already know for whom they will vote were consistent in their preferences across statewide races, yet, with less than three months to go before Election Day, a significant number of voters remain undecided or unwilling to vote for either candidate in each race. In the governor’s race, 23 percent of voters remain undecided or unwilling to vote for either candidate.
The poll featured landline and mobile telephone interviews from Aug. 4-15 with a representative sample
of 823 adults living in Virginia. It has a margin of error of 5.23 percent.

In the race for lieutenant governor, Democrat Hala Ayala has a larger lead over Republican Winsome Sears (39 percent to 31 percent respectively). However, 12 percent of voters are undecided about this race and 17 percent are unwilling to vote for either candidate.
In the race for attorney general, Democrat Mark Herring has the largest lead of all statewide candidates (41 percent), while 30 percent support Republican Jason Miyares. Ten percent of likely voters are undecided in this race and 19 percent are unwilling to vote for either candidate.

“As of this survey, there have been no debates between the candidates for governor or lieutenant
governor. The gubernatorial candidates are in a virtual dead heat (McAuliffe 40 percent Youngkin 37%). That could change once positions are taken on the issues. The lieutenant governor’s race showing the largest difference (Ayala 39%, Sears 31%) could also be affected. The attorney general race has 19 percent of the voters unwilling to vote for either candidate added to the 10% undecided leaves one-third of the voters who could tighten that contest. How the pandemic affects turnout and enthusiasm energizes voters should be of utmost concern,” said former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder.

Poll respondents were also asked which party they would rather see in control of the Virginia General Assembly. All 100 House of Delegates seats are up for election in November, with Democrats currently holding a 55-45 advantage. Voters are, once again, split on which party they prefer to control the two chambers Democrats have a slight edge over Republicans (44 percent vs. 40 percent respectively) with 6 percent of voters undecided.

In the gubernatorial race, McAuliffe has a sizeable lead in Northern Virginia (51 percent to 24 percent) while Youngkin leads in the west (52 percent to 32 percent). Voters are split in the south-central region, with 3 percent supporting Youngkin and 32 percent supporting McAuliffe, and in Tidewater, with 42% supporting McAuliffe and 37%
supporting Youngkin. The largest proportions of undecided voters (33%) are in the south central region. Similar regional differences were found in the other statewide races.

In terms of job approval for those already in office, respondents are split on how Gov. Ralph Northam is
handling his job with 51 percent saying they approve and 42 percent saying they disapprove. Minority and/or Hispanic respondents (65 percent) are more likely than white, non-Hispanic respondents (44 percent) to approve of Northam’s job performance.
Virginians show the strongest approval for Northam’s handling of COVID-19 (57%) and public education (52 percent), but less than half of respondents approve of how he has handled health care (47 percent), racial inequity (47 percent, the environment (44 percent) and the state budget (41 percent).
Additionally, Virginians are split on their approval of President Joe Biden with 51 percent approving and 47 percent disapproving of his current job performance.

For the full poll results and analysis, visit https://oppo.vcu.edu/policy-poll/.

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