Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin are deadlocked in Virginia’s pivotal gubernatorial race just one week before Election Day, according to a poll released Wednesday by Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center for Civic Leadership.
McAuliffe leads Youngkin, 49% to 48%, well within the poll’s margin of error, with third-party candidate Princess Blanding garnering 1%. Another 1% of voters are undecided.
The race has tightened significantly since August, when McAuliffe began the election with a 9-point lead.
"With McAuliffe and Youngkin now in a virtual tie, third-party candidate Princess Blanding's 1% share of the vote looms larger," writes the Wason Center.
That could be bad news for Democrats as independent voters largely favor Youngkin, 51% to 44%.
Democrats have won two straight governor’s races in Virginia, including a victory by McAuliffe in 2013. President Joe Biden carried the state by 10 points in the 2020 presidential election. But voters appear to be souring on Biden as his approval numbers are under water – just 41% approve of the job he is doing, compared with 52% who disapprove, according to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll.
McAuliffe, in a phone call with supporters earlier this month, acknowledged that Biden’s flailing numbers were not helping him.
"The president is unpopular today unfortunately here in Virginia, so we've got to plow through," McAuliffe said.
If Youngkin wins, it won’t be a surprise.
"There's a long history of the Virginia governor's race breaking against the White House party," said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of the Crystal Ball, a political analysis newsletter at the University of Virginia, told USA Today.
"And I think as soon as Joe Biden started to slip and his approval rating turned net negative, I think that certainly contributed to this race getting closer."
The Wason Center surveyed 944 registered Virginia voters. The survey’s margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points.
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