RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Even though Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring holds an edge over his Republican challenger Jason Miyares in a new statewide poll, its results suggest that his bid for a third term could be in jeopardy.
An 8News/Emerson College poll released Thursday found Herring (D) leading 47% to 41% among likely voters, with 11% still undecided. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4%.
While Herring leads among undecided voters, 58% to 42%, independent voters reported being unsure on whom to vote for at a higher rate than Democrats or Republicans and are leaning towards Del. Miyares (R-Virginia Beach) by a wide margin, the poll shows.
For Isabel Holloway, a data analyst at Emerson College Polling, the high percentage of undecided voters, compared to the same poll’s figures on the governor’s race, indicates the AG’s race has clearly not garnered as much attention.
“Not as many are as tuned into the attorney general’s race as the gubernatorial election,” she said in an interview Friday.
Holloway added that despite undecided voters breaking for Herring and his status as the incumbent, his run for another term could be “at risk” with the support for Miyares among independents and if the AG’s race begins to blend with the contest for governor.
In the 8News/Emerson College poll, 36% of participants said they identify as Democrat, 29% Republican and 34% independent. Nineteen percent of independents said they were undecided, compared with just 7% of Democrats and 6% of Republicans.
Among the poll’s sample of undecided voters, 60% are independents, 24% identify as a Democrat and 16% identify as Republican. Miyares has a significant advantage, 49% to 29%, over Herring among independent voters, according to the poll.
A Republican has not won a statewide election in Virginia since 2009. Miyares and the rest of the GOP ticket seek to change that trend in the Nov. 2 general election. With early voting starting Friday, the election is effectively underway in Virginia and campaigns are treating it as such.
Miyares’ campaign has ramped up efforts to attract voters and attack Herring, releasing a statement Thursday from the last five GOP attorneys general elected in Virginia claiming Herring should have taken legal action against the Virginia Parole Board in the wake of substantiated claims of misconduct.
“Jason Miyares is taking a page from Donald Trump’s playbook and trying to win this election by misleading and lying to voters.” Madia Coleman, a Herring spokesperson, said in a statement after PolitiFact VA rated Miyares’ claims tying Herring to the release of seven people convicted of different murders as false.
The 8News/Emerson College poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points, with higher margins of error for subsets based on gender, age, party breakdown, ethnicity, and region. Emerson College conducted the poll on Sept. 13-14, 2021, and contacted 778 likely voters using cellphone sample using SMS-to-web, a landline sample using IVR and an online panel provided by Amazon MTurk.
Nexstar Media Group, the parent company of WRIC 8News, contracted Emerson College to conduct the poll. Click here to download the full poll results.