Monmouth ran a series of turnout scenarios and found that Youngkin did better when more irregular voters were included. And overall, the Republican outclassed the former governor among voters who described themselves as “more enthusiastic” about this race compared to previous gubernatorial contests – roughly a quarter of the electorate.
“Republicans are a little more excited than Democrats this year. The question is whether this enthusiasm generates enough low-propensity Youngkin supporters to close the gap, ”Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a statement.
The Monmouth poll suggests a tighter race than Virginia’s last gubernatorial contest in 2017, when now Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam topped Republican Ed Gillespie by about 9 points. It’s also tighter than last year’s presidential election, when Joe Biden won Virginia by 10 points.
Other recent public polls in the state have generally found McAuliffe in the lead, although the margins have ranged from a near-tie to a wider lead. Polls in 2017 generally found the race to be closer than Northam’s ultimate margin of victory.
The Monmouth poll shows that two other statewide races, for lieutenant governor and attorney general, are closer than the gubernatorial contest. The first contest pits the Democratic State Del. Hala Ayala at the former Republican State Del. Winsome Sears, and the second features incumbent Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring facing Del State. Jason Miyares. Both races are within the poll’s margin of error among registered voters.
The Monmouth poll was conducted August 24-29, with 802 registered voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Virginia has long been viewed as a barometer of a sitting president’s political stance – and often negative. Over the past four decades, Virginia’s off-year elections have been notoriously unfavorable to the party that controls the White House, with McAuliffe’s own narrow victory in 2013 being the only exception to this trend.
But Democrats hope it will be different this year. Biden came to the state for his first rally as president in late July, ahead of the surge in coronavirus cases due to the Delta variant and his administration’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan.
Democrats in Virginia and California, meanwhile, have sought to make every contest a vote on Trump’s political legacy. Newsom’s committee is called “Stop the Republican Recall” and makes heavy reference to the former president.
Democrats regularly associate Youngkin, a former private equity executive and first-time candidate, with Trump, noting that the former president backed the Republican. A fundraising email from McAuliffe sent Tuesday, hours before the Monmouth poll was released, had the subject line “Trump is on the ballot here in Virginia.”
But the Monmouth poll suggests that Trump and Biden’s effect on the race could be a washout. Only 46% of voters said Biden would be a major or minor factor in their vote in the gubernatorial election this year, slightly higher than the 41% who say the same about Trump.
“The 2017 governor’s race was nationalized with an increase in anti-Trump turnout, giving Northam a comfortable victory,” said Murray, of Monmouth. “Presidential dynamics may play a role again, but they are unlikely to move any numbers at this point. If Trump or Biden are a major factor in your vote, you almost certainly already know who you will be voting for in this race ”,
Youngkin accepted Trump’s endorsement but has not campaigned with him, although Democrats are trying to get the former president to make an appearance in the state. Youngkin, however, campaigned with prominent members of the previous administration, including former vice president Mike Pence and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley.
The Republican on Monday launched a series of policy proposals called his “day one game plan,” which included a series of proposed tax cuts. The pair also released new TV commercials on Tuesday. McAuliffe’s ad attacks Youngkin over abortion, with a doctor claiming Youngkin has a “far-right agenda.” A series of Youngkin ads has local sheriffs saying the former governor doesn’t have their backs, and another has a daughter of a victim of the Charleston, SC, 2015 church shooting, calling it Youngkin as a compassionate leader who will protect the state.
The poll takes place just over two weeks before in-person early voting begins in the state on September 17. This year marks the first gubernatorial election that will include an unapologetic mail ballot and extensive in-person early voting, following sweeping expansions. of voter access in 2020.