McAuliffe leads Youngkin by 1 point ahead of Virginia governor’s race: poll

Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin are separated by 1 point among likely Virginia voters ahead of next week’s gubernatorial election, according to a new poll released on Friday. 

Forty-nine percent of likely voters in the state backed McAuliffe, while 48 percent said they supported Youngkin, according to a Washington Post-Schar School survey. McAuliffe’s lead over Youngkin falls well within the poll’s 4 percentage point margin of error for likely voters. 

This result paints a slightly different picture compared to other recent polls that show Youngkin leading with likely voters. A Fox News poll released on Thursday found Youngkin leading by 8 points in that group. 

The Washington Post poll found McAuliffe holding a 47 percent to 44 percent lead over Youngkin, but the survey also showed Youngkin holding a striking 18 point advantage with independent voters. That’s up from his 8-point advantage over McAuliffe with independents last month. 

Another potentially positive sign for Youngkin in the poll is that education has now overtaken the economy as the top issue for voters. Twenty-four percent of voters said education was their top issue, while 23 percent said the same about the economy. Last month, the poll showed only 15 percent of voters saying education was a top issue, while 27 percent said the same about the economy.

Youngkin has leaned heavily into education-related issues, specifically touting parents’ rights over school boards. The Republican hit McAuliffe over the latter’s comments last month that he did not believe parents should tell schools and teachers what to teach.

The Washington Post-Schar School poll was conducted Oct. 20-26 among 918 Virginia likely voters and 1,107 Virginia registered voters. The margin of error for registered voters was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points and plus or minus 4 points for likely voters.  

In addition to the McAuliffe and Youngkin results, the poll found President Biden underwater in Virginia, with 53 percent disapproving compare to 46 percent who approved. Biden’s approval ratings could spell trouble for McAuliffe, who has tied himself closely to the sitting president and Democratic leader. But current Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who previously served as lieutenant governor while McAuliffe was governor from 2014 to 2018, held a 51 percent approval rating and 44 percent disapproval rating, according to the poll. 

The poll also may provide some hopeful news for McAuliffe and his strategy of tying Youngkin to former President Trump, who lost Virginia in the last two presidential elections. Nine percent of voters said Trump’s endorsement of Youngkin makes them more likely to support Youngkin, while 37 percent said it makes them less likely to support him. Another 53 percent said it did not make a difference. Seventy percent of likely voters said Youngkin’s policies were similar to Trump’s. 

Virginia’s Election Day is on Nov. 2. The state’s voters have until Saturday to vote early. 

Tags Donald Trump Glenn Youngkin Joe Biden Terry McAuliffe Virginia governor election

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