McAuliffe up by 7 points in Virginia governor's race: poll

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffeTerry McAuliffeFive reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season BBB threatens the role of parents in raising — and educating — children Virginia's urgent lesson: Democrats' down-ballot enthusiasm gap MORE (D) has a 7-point lead over Republican Glenn YoungkinGlenn YoungkinFive reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Parnell exit threatens to hurt Trump's political clout Virginia's urgent lesson: Democrats' down-ballot enthusiasm gap MORE in the commonwealth’s gubernatorial race, according to a Roanoke College poll released Wednesday.

The survey shows McAuliffe with 48 percent support among likely voters, compared with 41 percent for Youngkin. Nine percent said they are undecided ahead of the November race, for which early voting is already underway.

McAuliffe, who served as governor from 2014 to 2018, has a 50 percent approval rating, with 37 percent of likely voters disapproving of him. Youngkin’s favorability rating sits at 40 percent, while 41 percent of likely voters disapprove of him and 20 percent still don’t have an opinion.

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Still, Republicans have an enthusiasm edge, with 43 percent of likely GOP voters saying they’re enthusiastic about voting compared to just 35 percent of Democrats.

The Wednesday poll shows little movement from the same survey in August, when McAuliffe had a 46-38 lead.

“The common theme in U.S. elections in the past decade has been a ‘base election that will be decided on turnout.’ Virginia 2021 is no different,” said Harry Wilson, senior political analyst of the Roanoke College poll.

“McAuliffe has maintained his lead, but some of the underlying actors favor Youngkin and the Republicans. They hold an advantage in enthusiasm and, perhaps, a tiny advantage in likelihood to vote. Partisans on both sides are firmly entrenched in support of their candidate, Republicans perhaps more strongly than in 2017.” 

Several polls have shown the gubernatorial race is shaping up to be a nail-biter, with political observers across the country viewing it as a potential bellwether for the 2022 midterm elections. Virginia has trended blue in recent cycles, but Republicans say that a strong showing there would portend good chances for the GOP taking back at least one chamber of Congress next year.

The latest Roanoke College poll surveyed 603 likely Virginia voters from Sept. 12 to 26 and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.