Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe holds a 5-point lead over his Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin, according to a new Monmouth University poll released on Tuesday.
The survey found McAuliffe leading Youngkin 47 percent to 42 percent; however, the same poll showed Youngkin leading McAuliffe 44 percent to 38 percent among the commonwealth's independent voters.
Regionally, McAuliffe leads in the voter-rich Democratic stronghold of Northern Virginia, besting Youngkin 56 percent to 27 percent. McAuliffe leads 53 percent to 43 percent in the greater Richmond area, as well as in the eastern Tidewater region, 50 to 37 percent.
Meanwhile, the polling shows the western portion of the commonwealth has proven to be a stronghold for Youngkin, who leads 61 percent to 31 percent.
Independent voters, particularly in the state's suburbs, could prove crucial to Youngkin's path given Virginia's population centers leaning more Democratic in recent years.
"Vote preferences in Northern Virginia and the western part of the commonwealth basically cancel each other out if turnout patterns match the last four years. Youngkin’s challenge is to chip away at McAuliffe’s edge in the rest of Virginia,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
A separate Trafalgar Group poll released on Tuesday showed a much tighter race, with McAuliffe leading 46.6 percent to 46.3 percent with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.99 percentage points.
Tuesday's poll is the latest in a number of recent polls released on the race, which is intensifying with early voting kicking off on Sept. 17.
Most polls show McAuliffe with a lead. A Christopher Newport University poll released on Thursday showed McAuliffe with 50 percent support from likely registered voters, while Youngkin trailed at 41 percent.
Additionally, a Roanoke College poll released last week showed McAuliffe with an 8-point lead over Youngkin, while a Virginia Commonwealth University poll released last week showed McAuliffe with a 3-point lead.
The Monmouth University survey was conducted from Aug. 24 to 29 among 802 registered Virginia voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.