Polling Averages Place Youngkin in the Lead for the First Time as Election Day Nears

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Republican candidate for governor of Virginia Glenn Youngkin has taken the lead in the poll average over his opponent Terry McAuliffe with less than a week until election day.  

The average of the 7 most recent polls on the Real Clear Politics polling site place Youngkin ahead with a lead of +0.4 points, marking the first time he has surpassed McAuliffe in the polling averages throughout the entire campaign.

Real Clear Politics collects polling data from various pollsters and lists their own RCP average based upon some of the most recent polls available.  

Terry McAuliffe led the polling average for months with a consistent average of more than +5.5 points from August 22 through September 22, but that gap has  slowly closed since mid September.  McAuliffe’s lead went from +5.5 points, to roughly +4 points, then down to only +2 points before several polls started to show a tie in the race, marking a dramatic increase in support for Youngkin.

Of the current polls contributing to the average that places Youngkin +0.4 points ahead, 3 of the 7 show a tie in the race, 2 place McAuliffe at a +1 point lead, 1 places him at a +3 point lead, and the most recent one conducted by Fox News has Youngkin ahead by +8 points among likely voters.  

FiveThirtyEight’s polling average shows the race as a perfect tie now, as well. 

Before discounting the newest Fox News poll as over-representative of republican support, its worth taking a look at FiveThirtyEight’s rating of their polling history, which apart from giving it one of the highest grade ratings amongst any of the hundreds of pollsters they review, it shows Fox News polls tend to over-represent democratic support by an average of 1.8 points.  The poll was randomly conducted with a sample size of 1,212 from Virginia voter rolls.  

Independents seem to be voting in Youngkin’s favor: a Christopher Newport University poll shows independent voters favoring him 51% to 44%, and a Monmouth poll shows independents favoring him 48% to 39%.

One important group for McAuliffe, women, has dropped off significantly.  The previously cited Monmouth poll shows a drop in women support for McAuliffe by 10 points, down to a 4 point lead from a 14 point lead.   

On the key issues, Glenn Youngkin has the majority support from Virginians on almost all of them.  A Suffolk poll found that 54% of voters favor eliminating Virginia’s grocery tax, 65% say that Virginia’s economy has gotten worse in the past 4 years, and 50% believe that parents should have more of an influence on curriculum than school boards, all issues that favor Youngkin.  

The two most important issues for voters, as discovered by polls, are both on Youngkin’s side as well.  One poll found that education had the plurality of support (21%) for the most important issue facing Virginia.  Another found that the economy was the first or second most important issue for 45% of Virginia voters, and that education was the first or second most important issue for 41%.

Election day is less than a week away, and the momentum appears to be strongly favoring Glenn Younkin to be the next governor of Virginia.  Much could change in the coming days, and we will continue to monitor the polling numbers and election results.