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CNU poll: McAuliffe's lead over Youngkin continues to shrink

Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe has had a shrinking lead over Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin since August, according to CNU.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — With Election Day less than a week away, Christopher Newport University's Wason Center for Civic Leadership has released its final poll results showing a "statistical tie" in all three of Virginia's major statewide races.

The latest poll, which is the last prior to the election, shows Democratic candidate for Governor Terry McAuliffe' with a "razor-thin lead" over Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin.

McAuliffe received 49% of the votes, while Youngkin received 48%, a 1% difference that is within the poll's margin of error (3.5%). There's an additional 1% of the voters CNU spoke who said they are undecided. 

"Glenn Youngkin has been gaining vote share relative to Terry McAuliffe," said CNU Political Science Professor and Wason Center Director Quentin Kidd. "And I think the dynamic at play is, Terry McAuliffe is a known quantity. He was a former governor. Everybody knows who he is."

Kidd continued: "Glenn Youngkin was relatively unknown. He was not involved in politics until he decided to run for governor. And so, as voters started paying attention to the race, post-Labor Day, more of them gravitated towards Glenn Youngkin than Terry McAuliffe, such that we're less than a week out from Election Day, and, it's essentially a tied race."

When looking at the history for the Wason Center polls, McAuliffe has seen a continuously shrinking lead. 

He began with a 9-point lead over Youngkin in August, which dropped to 4 points in early October. Now, McAuliffe stands with a 1-point lead.

Since the last poll, Youngkin has seen a significant increase in support from his party. In early October, 90% of Republicans said they'd vote for Youngkin. Now, that percentage stands at 97%. 

“Republican voters also appear hungrier for a win and increasingly see a chance to take a statewide race for the first time since 2009," said Wason Center Research Director Dr. Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo.

Youngkin also has the support of 51% of the independents who took part in the poll.

According to CNU, Youngkin's support is driven by white voters, male voters, and those from the south/southwest region. 

McAuliffe's support is strongest among women, Black voters, voters aged 44 and younger, and voters in the Northern Virginia region. He has support from 98% of Democrats, up from 92% in early October. 

“McAuliffe is facing strong headwinds in a state that has historically selected governors from the party not in the White House and with a Democratic president whose approval rating is underwater," Bromley-Trujillo said.

The race for lieutenant governor is essentially just as close as that of Governor, with Democrat Hala Ayala leading Republican Winsome Sears by 1%. However, in this race, 4% are undecided. 

Sears has gained 7 points among Republicans since Wason Center's Poll on Oct. 8, going from 87% to 94%. Ayala had similar gains, earning support from 97% of Democrats as opposed to the 88% support she had on Oct. 8.

The race for attorney general is within 1% as well. Attorney General Mark Herring is leading Republican Jason Miyares 49% to 48% with 5% still undecided.

Miyares has support from 95% of Republicans, according to the poll. Herring has 96% of Democrats' support. 

When it comes to voting for this election, Republicans appear to be more enthusiastic than Democrats. The poll shows that 80% of Republicans claimed to be "very enthusiastic" about voting in this election, compared to the Democrats' 65%.

"I think Republicans have been so thirsty in Virginia for a strong candidate who's doing well, that when they see one, and they see that in Glenn Youngkin, they're really excited about it," said Kidd. "And Democrats have been so used to winning so big, that when they see their candidate struggling, they get really demoralized."

The Wason Center conducted the poll, interviewing 944 registered Virginia voters who are likely to take part in the general election. Those interviews were conducted from October 17 through the 25.

The last time a Republican won a statewide office was all the way back in 2009, when Bob McDonnell beat Creigh Deeds for governor, Bill Bolling was elected Lieutenant Governor, and Ken Cuccinelli was elected Attorney General.

Since then, Democrats have won every election for those top three spots and Democrats Tim Kaine and Mark Warner have each twice won statewide elections to the U.S. Senate.

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