Two new polls of the Virginia gubernatorial election suggest that the race between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin might be tightening. McAuliffe, the former governor of Virginia, thus far has held a commanding lead in most of the limited polling of the race.
The first poll out today, from Monmouth University, found that McAuliffe leads Virginia businessman Youngkin by just five points, 47 percent to 42 percent. The second poll, conducted by the right-leaning Trafalgar Group, found a much narrower lead, with McAuliffe ahead of Youngkin by just .3 percent.
The Monmouth poll is especially interesting, as it found that Youngkin has a substantial lead over McAuliffe among Independent voters, with 44 percent support to McAuliffe’s 38 percent. As is to be expected, the Democrat has a comfortable advantage among voters in Northern Virginia and the areas around Virginia’s few big cities, while Youngkin is about 30 points ahead in the western portion of the state.
Despite his general advantage, Monmouth’s summary of the poll points out that, in some regions, McAuliffe is running behind where current governor, Democrat Ralph Northam, was when he successfully ran for office in 2017.
The Trafalgar poll, meanwhile, surveyed more than 1,000 likely general-election voters and found the narrowest margin of any survey thus far in the campaign, with less than a point’s difference between McAuliffe and Youngkin. As Trafalgar’s chief pollster Robert Cahaly pointed out on Twitter, the group’s polling ahead of the Virginia Democratic primary earlier this year came closest to accurately predicting the results.
Virginia has been trending blue over the past several election cycles, giving McAuliffe a built-in advantage. But historically, the state also has tended to lean in the opposite direction of the party in the White House in gubernatorial elections, which come just one year after presidential elections, which given Biden’s plummeting approval rating might be giving Youngkin a little boost.