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Virginia 2021: Poll Points to Photo Finish in Governor's Race

The latest Emerson College/Nexstar Media poll of the Virginia gubernatorial race finds Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe tied, 48% to 48%. One percent of voters (1%) are voting for Princess Blanding, and 3% are undecided. When those undecided voters are allocated towards who they are leaning towards, both candidates are at 49%, and Blanding is at 2%.

Since the last Emerson/Nexstar poll in early October, McAuliffe has lost 1 point of support, while the undecided number of voters has gone up 1 point, and Youngkin’s support has stayed the same. 

McAuliffe leads with women (52% to 44%), voters under 50 (54% to 41%), Black voters (71% to 24%), and Hispanic voters (48% to 47%). Youngkin leads with men (53% to 44%), voters over 50 (61% to 42%), and White voters (56% to 42%). 

Youngkin is leading in the Western region of the state (the 5th, 6th, and 9th congressional districts) 65% to 32%. Voters in the Eastern region (the 1st, 2nd, and 7th congressional districts) are also breaking towards Youngkin, 51% to 42%. 

In the Southeast region (the 3rd and 4th congressional districts), McAuliffe is leading 60% to 36%. McAuliffe also leads in Northern Virginia (the 8th, 10th, and 11th congressional districts), 62% to 36%.

Voters are locked in with their choices, with 92% saying they will definitely vote for their planned candidate, and 8% saying they could change their mind before election day.

Regardless of who voters plan to vote for, a majority (55%) of voters expect McAuliffe to win, while 43% expect Youngkin and 2% expect Blanding. 

When asked what the most important issue facing Virginia is, voters were split between education (21%), jobs (15%), Covid-19 (14%), and taxes (10%). Other issues were gun control (6%), immigration (6%), and the environment (6%). Eleven percent (11%) of voters said something else.

A plurality (23%) of McAuliffe voters say COVID-19 is the most important issue facing Virginia, while a plurality (34%) of Youngkin voters say education is the most important issue facing Virginia. 

In the race for Attorney General, incumbent Democrat Mark Herring holds a slight lead over Republican Jason Miyares, 47% to 44%, with 2% saying they will vote for someone else and 7% being undecided. When the undecided voters are allocated to the candidate they are leaning towards, the race tightens to one point, with Herring at 50% and Miyares at 49%. 

Caller ID

The Virginia Emerson College/Nexstar Media poll was conducted October 22-23, 2021. The sample consisted of Virginia very likely voters, n=875, with a Credibility Interval (CI) similar to a poll’s margin of error (MOE) of +/- 3.2 percentage points. The data sets were weighted by gender, age, education, race, and region based on turnout modeling using L2. It is important to remember that subsets based on gender, age, party breakdown, ethnicity, and region carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. Data was collected via a cellphone sample using SMS-to-web, a landline sample using IVR, and an online panel provided by Amazon MTurk.

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Key Takeaways
  • Democrat with slight edge in AG Race
  • McAuliffe leads with women, voters under 50, and minority voters
  • Youngkin leads with men, voters over 50, and white voters
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