A new University of Mary Washington (UMW) poll of 1,000 Virginia adults found Terry McAuliffe leading with 43 percent, Glenn Youngkin with 38 percent, and Liberation Party candidate Princess Blanding at two percent. Among the 528 likely voters in the poll, Youngkin gained ten points, reaching 48 percent, while McAuliffe and Blanding stayed at 43 percent and two percent, respectively.
But elections forecaster Chaz Nuttycombe said that the big story is the Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll released Tuesday that had McAuliffe leading Youngkin 45 to 42 percent; it surveyed 875 Virginia voters on September 17 and 18 with a 3.3 percent margin of error. It did not include Blanding.
“The one big exclamation point that should be having Dems say, ‘Oh s–t, oh f–k, oh s–t, oh f–k,’ is the PPP poll that came out. That had McAuliffe up by three. PPP is a very Democrat-leaning pollster,” Nuttycombe said. “Their polls usually overestimate Democrats by a few points.”
Nuttycombe runs political forecasting site Cnalysis. He said polling across both Republican and Democratic-leaning firms is pretty consistent, even including a poll announced Tuesday by former senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, which had McAuliffe lead Youngkin by 4 points.
“That’s one thing that’s pretty unusual, is the amount of consistency between public polls and internal polls on both sides,” he said. “But the PPP one should definitely have Democrats fearing for their lives.”
“I still think Democrats win everything by a gnat’s eyebrow of a margin,” Nuttycombe said.
Among likely voters, the UMW poll has a 4.1 percent margin of error, and was conducted from September 7 through September 13. That coincides roughly with a recent Washington Post poll that had McAuliffe up 3 points, a Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) poll that had McAuliffe up 9 points, and an Emerson College poll that had McAuliffe up 4 points, according to Real Clear Politics. RCP reported a polling average on September 22 of 46.5 percent for Youngkin and 43.7 percent for Youngkin.
Nuttycombe said he considers both the UMW and the VCU poll to be outliers. The UMW poll has 54 percent men in its likely voter category, compared to 49 percent in its total category. Nuttycombe said Virginia’s majority electorate is slightly female, and said men are more likely to vote Republican.
“So that kind of explains the likely voter thing where you’ve got the Republicans up,” he said. “I think their likely voter model is a little Republican skewing.”
He criticized the VCU poll for including a none-of-the-above option. “You don’t have an option on the ballot that says, ‘Neither of these candidates,'” he said.
At the beginning of September, a Youngkin campaign poll showed Youngkin ahead, with 48 percent among likely voters. That poll also including Blanding as an option. Nuttycombe said it is possible that Blanding would act as a spoiler, taking some voters who would otherwise choose McAuliffe.
“I’d say at most, it’s probably about two-and-a-half percent she could get, but in a close race like this, that could still be pretty pivotal. I do think polls should be including her. She’s on the ballot,” Nuttycombe said.
Nuttycombe said that Youngkin’s Achilles heel is vaccine mandates, which are popular with the moderate Democrat-leaning voters Youngkin needs, but Youngkin can’t afford to call for the mandates for fear of alienating his conservative base.
“If Democrats really want to scare suburban voters of Glenn Youngkin, they have to use his own words against him, when it comes to vaccination mandates,” Nuttycombe said. “McAuliffe has been doing that messaging, and I think that’s really the best option here, to just keep going.”
Winsome Sears Gets NFIB Endorsement, More Republican State Leadership Committee Cash
“The NFIB Virginia PAC is proud to endorse her as the next lieutenant governor of Virginia because Sears understands the challenges that small business owners face right now, given that she herself has faced those same challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic and the repeal of Virginia’s Right to Work law is a threat to small business owners across Virginia. NFIB small business owners are confident that Winsome Sears will work hard to keep their best interests in mind as they continue to focus on what small business owners to do best: create jobs and keep Virginia’s economy running,” NFIB Virginia State Director Nicole Riley said in a press release.
The Republican State Leadership Committee announced Wednesday that it would spend $100,000 on Sears’ campaign, on top of a previous $50,000. Sears is trailing her opponent Delegate Hala Ayala (D-Prince William) in fundraising, with about $1.4 million raised and about $1.1 million spent by the Sears campaign according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Ayala has raised about $1.9 million and spent about $1.2 million. Although the lieutenant governor is a part-time position, Virginia’s near-split in the Senate makes the seat powerful as a tie-breaker in close Senate votes.
“At the RSLC we are determined to grow the future of the Republican Party by supporting candidates that better reflect their communities, and Winsome Sears perfectly embodies that mission,” RSLC President Dee Duncan said according to The Virginia Scope. “We look forward to continuing to support her in the weeks ahead as she fights to back law enforcement, ease the cost of living, and get politics out of the classroom.”