Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has less than a two-point edge over his opponent, Republican Glenn Youngkin, in Virginia’s 2021 gubernatorial election, according to a poll released Tuesday.
The poll, conducted by the Trafalgar Group from July 8 to July 10, showed McAuliffe leading Youngkin by 1.8 percent, 46.8 percent to 45 percent with four percent undecided. The Virginia Democrat’s lead falls within the poll’s 2.9 percent margin of error, placing the two candidates in a statistical tie.
The results are in line with those of the race’s last public poll, from JMC Analytics in early June, which also showed a statistical tie between the two candidates though McAuliffe’s lead was wider at about four percent.
The ties indicate the race in the lean-blue state is competitive. While Youngkin has an uphill battle as he seeks to reverse the Old Dominion’s recent leftward trends, Virginia’s longer history of electing a candidate in the bellwether race who is the opposite of the party in the White House works in Youngkin’s favor. Since 1977, only once has a candidate overcome this pattern, in 2013 when McAuliffe narrowly defeated Ken Cuccinelli.
In 2020, President Joe Biden beat former President Donald Trump in Virginia by a decisive ten points, whereas Hillary Clinton won the state in 2016 by a slimmer margin of five points. Democrats have benefited heavily from voters in the Northern Virginia region, especially in Fairfax County, the most populous county in the state.
Youngkin acknowledged the challenge he faces in Northern Virginia in a SiriusXM radio interview with Breitbart News in April, telling host Alex Marlow that swinging a “reasonable chunk” of the region’s voters based on issues that could resonate with both parties, such as education and right to work, would be enough for the Virginia Republican to see a statewide victory.
“Mathematically, we can win a reasonable chunk of Northern Virginia back,” Youngkin contended. “We don’t have to win fully Northern Virginia, 51 percent. We just have to get her back from the 70–30 to close to 60–40, and then with the strength that we have across our red counties, and, oh by the way, the strength we’re seeing in Hampton Roads and suburban Richmond, we’re going to win this November.”
A total of 1,104 likely voters weighed in on the Trafalgar poll, a plurality of whom were ages 45-64 and a majority of whom were white. Respondents were spread relatively evenly between men and women, and among the state’s 11 congressional districts.
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