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McAuliffe and Youngkin deadlocked for Virginia governor

Former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe holds a 49% to 48% lead over Republican Glenn Youngkin in Virginia’s contest for governor, according to a survey of likely voters released Wednesday by the Wason Center for Civic Leadership at Christopher Newport University. McAuliffe’s 1-point lead is within the survey’s margin of error (+/-3.5%), a virtual tie in which third-party candidate Princess Blanding’s 1% share of the vote looms larger.

With voting underway in the Nov. 2 general election, Democrats also held small but shrinking leads down-ballot. The race for lieutenant governor tracks the top of the ticket, with Democrat Hala Ayala showing a 1-point lead over Republican Winsome Sears, 49% to 48%, in the CNU poll. Seeking a third term, Attorney General Mark Herring narrowly led Republican Jason Miyares 48% to 47%.

Republican likely voters are significantly more enthusiastic about voting in this election than Democrats (80% to 65% very enthusiastic), an advantage that has surged 9 points since the Oct. 8 Wason Center survey.

“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,” said Wason Center Research Director Dr. Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo. “Republican voters also appear hungrier for a win and increasingly see a chance to take a statewide race for the first time since 2009.”

Democratic leads that showed in previous Wason Center polls during this election have all but disappeared.

Independent voters continue to favor all three Republican candidates, while partisans on both sides are locking into position for their party’s candidates. A large, mirrored gender gap has emerged, with male voters shifting towards Republican candidates (56% to 42%) and women moving towards Democratic candidates (56% to 40%). Regionally, the hotly contested Richmond/Central region has tilted significantly in Republicans’ favor since the Oct. 8 survey, going from a 3-point Republican lead to a 12-point Republican lead (55% to 43%) at the top of the ticket.

The results of this poll are based on 944 interviews of registered Virginia voters who are likely general election voters, including 446 on landline and 498 on cell phone, conducted Oct. 17-25. The full report is online at https://cnu.edu/wasoncenter/.