McAuliffe, Youngkin tied in new poll days before Virginia governor vote

Democrat Terry McAuliffeTerry McAuliffeNortham announces final steps in clearing, ceding area where Lee monument stood Judges uphold GOP win for Virginia state House seat, cementing party control of chamber To empower parents, reinvent schools MORE and Republican Glenn YoungkinGlenn YoungkinActivists preparing for midterms with abortion as a key issue Northam announces final steps in clearing, ceding area where Lee monument stood Judges uphold GOP win for Virginia state House seat, cementing party control of chamber MORE are in a dead heat one week before Virginia voters head to the polls to choose their next governor. 

An Emerson College/Nexstar Media poll released on Tuesday shows McAuliffe and Youngkin tied at 48 percent each. Another 3 percent of voters remain undecided, while only 1 percent say they plan to vote for Liberation Party candidate Princess Blanding. 

The poll found little change in the race since earlier this month, when another Emerson College survey showed McAuliffe with 49 percent support and Youngkin with 48 percent. 

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Still, it’s the latest sign of how close the Virginia governor’s race has become in recent weeks. A USA Today/Suffolk University poll released on Tuesday also found McAuliffe and Youngkin tied at roughly 45 percent support apiece. 

While Election Day is set for next Tuesday, early voting in the race is already underway.

The race for Virginia governor is widely viewed as a bellwether for the 2022 midterms, when Democrats’ razor-thin congressional majorities will be on the line. Republicans need to flip only five seats in the House and just one in the Senate to recapture control of Congress. 

Despite the closeness of the race, most Virginia voters — 55 percent — say they expect McAuliffe, a former governor who’s vying for his old job, to win next week. Forty-three percent believe that Youngkin, a businessman and former co-CEO of a private equity firm, will be the state’s next governor.

The electorate is divided along party lines when it comes to the issue they care about most in the governor’s race. A plurality of McAuliffe’s supporters — 23 percent — say that the COVID-19 pandemic is their top issue, while a plurality of Youngkin’s backers — 34 percent — point to education as the most important issue.

McAuliffe has zeroed in on the coronavirus and issues including abortion rights to pitch himself to voters, while Youngkin has seized on schools, including the teaching of critical race theory. 

The Emerson College/Nexstar Media poll surveyed 875 likely Virginia voters from Oct. 22-23. It has a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.

Nexstar Media, Inc. acquired The Hill in August.