RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — All three of Virginia’s statewide races are virtually tied less than a week from Election Day due to a surge in Republican enthusiasm, according to a poll released Wednesday.
The poll of 944 likely voters, conducted by the Wason Center for Civic Leadership at Christopher Newport University over the phone from Oct. 17-25, shows the candidates on the Democratic statewide ticket with one-point advantages over their Republican counterparts. The differences are all well within the survey’s margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a former governor seeking a second term, has 49% support among likely voters and Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin, a first-time candidate, has 48%. Princess Blanding, running under the Liberation Party, has 1% of support and 1% remain undecided.
A similar Wason Center poll from late August had McAuliffe with a nine-point edge over Youngkin, a gap that has now dipped to one point.
The Wason Center poll is one of many showing a tight governor’s race between the two major-party candidates. Support for Youngkin has increased in the last few months whereas McAuliffe’s has waned, a shift that could be attributed to a boost in Republican voter enthusiasm.
“McAuliffe is facing strong headwinds in a state that has historically selected governors from the party not in the White House and with a Democratic president whose approval rating is underwater,” Wason Center Research Director Dr. Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo said in a statement. “Republican voters also appear hungrier for a win and increasingly see a chance to take a statewide race for the first time since 2009.”
From 1977 until McAuliffe’s win in 2013, the losing gubernatorial candidate came from the same political party that won the presidential election the year before. Biden carried Virginia by 10% last November, but his approval rating has dropped in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The other two statewide races in Virginia, for lieutenant governor and attorney general, are also statistical ties. Both contests are closer than they have been during this election cycle, with both Republican candidates gaining ground on their Democratic rivals compared to similar polls from the Wason Center.
Democratic lieutenant governor candidate, Del. Hala Ayala (Prince William), leads Republican Winsome Sears, a former state delegate, 49% to 48%, with 3% of voters saying they are undecided. In August, a Wason Center poll had Ayala leading 52% to Sears’ 42%.
Republican Del. Jason Miyares has narrowed the six-point edge Democratic incumbent Mark Herring had in the Wason Center’s Oct. 8 poll. The survey released Wednesday has Herring leading the race 48% to 47%, with 5% undecided.
Republicans have not won a statewide election since 2009 and has been seen as a “blue state” in the last decade.
With early voting already underway, Virginia voters can cast their ballot for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general for the Nov. 2 election. Early in-person voting ends Oct. 30.
All 100 House of Delegates seats, where Democrats currently hold a 55-45 majority, and certain local races will also be on ballots.