Monday, June 5, 2023
HomepoliticsFox News Poll: Tight race for Virginia governor

Fox News Poll: Tight race for Virginia governor

Virginia voters give Democrat Terry McAuliffe the advantage over Republican Glenn Youngkin by 48-44 percent in the race for governor, according to a new Fox News Poll.  

This benchmark survey of the Virginia governor’s race shows it is still up for grabs.  That four percentage-point edge is within the survey’s margin of sampling error and both candidates are below 50 percent support.  

In addition, while both McAuliffe and Youngkin backers have a high degree of vote certainty (each at 79 percent), one in five voters say they may change their mind before casting their ballot.  

Overall, three quarters are “extremely” (46 percent) or “very” (29 percent) interested in the election.  Among just those interested voters, McAuliffe is up by 2 points (49-47 percent).

The survey, released Thursday, was conducted September 26 through September 29 among Virginia registered voters.  The second and last scheduled debate of the campaign was September 28.  

McAuliffe is the preferred candidate among Black voters (by 69 points), moderates (+18), women (+10), and parents (+9). 

Youngkin is the choice among independents (+23), White voters (by 13 points), and men (+2).  

He’s also ahead (+13 points) among the small subgroup that has a negative opinion of both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.  

The Republican leads by 10 points among economy voters, while the Democrat leads by 50 among those who say the pandemic is the most important issue to their vote.  The economy is the top issue to Virginia voters (32 percent), followed by the coronavirus pandemic (20 percent), health care (12 percent), taxes (9 percent), and abortion, crime, and education (each 7 percent).

On their personal financial situation, by a 9-point margin, more Virginians report they are falling behind than getting ahead (27 vs. 18 percent), with a 54 percent majority holding steady.

Majorities favor COVID vaccine requirements for teachers (66 percent) and employers with more than 100 employees (60 percent).  A larger number, 71 percent, favor mask requirements for teachers and students.  

There’s no real difference between parents and non-parents on these COVID mandates, although moms are more likely than dads to want teachers and students to wear masks by 11 points.  

McAuliffe favors vaccine mandates for teachers, while Youngkin opposes requiring the shot.

Democrats are at least twice as likely as Republicans to favor requiring teachers be vaccinated (90 vs. 45 percent), teachers/students wear masks (95 vs. 45 percent), and vaccines at companies with 100+ workers (88 vs. 34 percent).  

The candidates spar over critical race theory, with Youngkin vowing to ban the teaching of it and McAuliffe saying it isn’t being taught in Virginia schools.  While 27 percent of voters favor teaching CRT in public schools, a larger 39 percent oppose it, and 32 percent haven’t heard enough to say.  The largest share of Democrats favor it (47 percent) compared to a majority of Republicans opposing it (65 percent), while opinions are consistent among parents and non-parents alike. 

“The Republicans’ hopes for capturing the governorship in the Old Dominion hinge upon running competitively in Northern Virginia and dominating in the mountain and western parts of the state,” says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts the Fox News Poll with Democrat Chris Anderson. 

“Those hopes depend on which issues are at the forefront. If voters are thinking about the economy, taxes, and critical race theory, the data here suggest Youngkin might pull this off. If they are thinking about the virus and health care, McAuliffe cruises.”  

Former business executive Youngkin is a newcomer to politics, while McAuliffe served as the state’s governor from 2014-2018.

McAuliffe garners a net +7 favorable rating:  48 percent view him favorably vs. 41 percent unfavorably.  For Youngkin, it’s 44 percent favorable vs. 42 percent unfavorable.  That gives him a net +2 points. 

Views split on Virginia’s current governor, Democrat Ralph Northam:  45 percent favorable to 46 percent unfavorable.  

Trump endorsed Youngkin and Biden endorsed McAuliffe.  Will those endorsements help?

Voters divide 49-49 percent on Biden’s favorability, while Trump is underwater by 16 points (41 percent favorable vs. 57 percent unfavorable).  In addition, more Democrats view Biden favorably (87 percent) than Republicans do Trump (80 percent).  

At the same time, while President Biden won Virginia by 10 points in 2020, voters now approve of the job he’s doing by just 1 point:  50 approve vs. 49 disapprove. 

“As an off year election in a sometimes purple state, the Virginia gubernatorial is often seen as an early indicator of where voters are headed after a presidential,” says Anderson.  “And these poll results suggest Republicans might be more competitive in some places when Donald Trump is not on the ballot.”

Conducted September 26-29, 2021 under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company (R), this Fox News survey includes interviews with 901 Virginia registered voters randomly selected from a statewide voter file, who spoke with live interviewers on landlines and cellphones. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the total sample. 

Fox News’ Victoria Balara contributed to this report.


Most Popular