RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria and her Republican challenger Jen Kiggans are locked in a dead heat in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District race, a new poll shows.
The poll released Friday by the Wason Center for Civic Leadership at Christopher Newport University has Luria and Kiggans, a state senator, tied at 45% among likely voters in the district, with 8% saying they are undecided nearly two weeks away from Election Day.
Luria and Kiggans are vying to represent the new 2nd District, which no longer includes the cities of Hampton and Newport News after redistricting, in one of the most closely-watched and highly competitive races in Virginia that could play a part in which party controls Congress.
Of the 820 likely voters surveyed, 12% said they have already cast a ballot in the race. Fifty-six percent of that group voted for Luria and 29% said they voted for Kiggans, according to the poll.
Dr. Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo, the Wason Center’s research director, said Friday the gap follows trends showing that Democratic voters are more likely to vote early than Republican voters but doesn’t suggest there’s a favorite in the race.
“I’ve never seen a precise dead heat and this is what we have here,” Dr. Bromley-Trujillo said in a Friday briefing. “This could go either way.”
Thirty-nine percent of respondents said the economy is the issue at the top of their minds when voting, with 17% saying abortion and 14% saying threats to democracy.
There is a partisan divide on the issues, with 61% of likely Republican voters in the district identifying inflation and the economy as their top concern and 31% of Democrats saying abortion is their focus.
One reason for the tight race, Bromley-Trujillo said, is Democratic voters’ focus on abortion and sharing concerns over threats to democracy ahead of the midterms.
“If this were a typical midterm election year, this district would likely favor the Republican candidate, especially given an unpopular sitting Democratic President and high inflation,” she said in a statement accompanying the poll results.
“Abortion and concern over threats to democracy appear to have energized Democrats and bolstered support for incumbent Rep. Elaine Luria.”
The new district appears to favor Republicans as the party hopes to flip the seat in its pursuit to seize control of the U.S. House. Virginia’s new 2nd Congressional District still gets most of its voters from Virginia Beach. But it no longer includes the cities of Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson and Williamsburg.
According to an analysis from the Virginia Public Access Project, the district supported Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin over Democrat Terry McAuliffe during last year’s gubernatorial election.
The poll of 820 likely voters in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, conducted over the phone from Oct. 12-18, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.
To be considered a likely voter for the poll, a respondent had to have voted in at least two of the last four general elections or be a newly registered voter who said they plan to or already have voted.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.