McAuliffe leads Youngkin by slim margin in Virginia gubernatorial race

McAuliffe leads Youngkin by slim margin in Virginia gubernatorial race
© Greg Nash

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is leading Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin with less than three months to go until the 2021 general election, according to a new poll shared with The Hill Friday. 

The results from the Aug. 8-9 survey, conducted by research and analytics firm co/efficient showed that 47 percent of likely Virginia voters said they would vote for McAuliffe, while 45 percent said the same for Youngkin. 

The Democrat’s lead is within the survey’s nearly 3-percentage point margin of error. 

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Roughly 8 percent of likely voters said they were still undecided on their choice between McAuliffe, who is vying for a second nonconsecutive term, and Youngkin, an ex-businessman who has attempted to label himself as a political outsider. 

Virginia’s current governor, Ralph Northam (D), is not able to run in this year’s election. Virginia’s state constitution does not allow the governor to hold consecutive terms. 

The survey, conducted among more than 1,200 likely general election voters, found that Virginia women were more likely to support McAuliffe, with 49 percent of female voters saying they would vote for him, compared to 42 percent for Youngkin.

McAuliffe also performed better in the poll among younger voters — 48 percent of voters ages 18 to 34 backed the Democratic nominee, while 37 percent of the demographic support his opponent. 

The poll comes as the Virginia race has been shaken up in recent days by the nationwide debate over vaccine requirements and mask mandates. 

McAuliffe openly supported Northam’s newly announced mask mandate on Thursday. The Democratic nominee and the rest of Democratic ticket are also requiring their staff to get vaccinated. 

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Meanwhile, Youngkin has railed against the mask mandate, and has argued that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is a personal choice. He called Northam's mask mandate “the first step towards returning to a full shutdown of our economy.”

A new ad released by the McAuliffe campaign on Friday took aim at Youngkin over how he has said he would approach the coronavirus pandemic, including his praise of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisSchools without mask mandate 3.5 times more likely to have COVID-19 outbreaks: CDC study Texas limits business with Ben & Jerry's over Israel move Overnight Health Care — Presented by Indivior — CDC panel approves boosters for some, but not based on jobs MORE (R), who has attracted criticism from Democrats and health experts for banning vaccine requirements and school mask mandates. 

The Friday ad began with audio of Youngkin saying, “I think Gov. DeSantis has done a lot of really impressive things to lead.” 

“And this is where I look to lead as governor,” he added. 

The video ended with photos of Youngkin and DeSantis with the text “don’t let Glenn Youngkin do to Virginia what Ron DeSantis did to Florida.”