Republican Glenn Youngkin has pulled ahead in the race for Virginia governor, a new poll released Thursday evening shows.
The eight-point advantage is both greater than the poll’s margin of error and a 13-point swing from the same survey taken two weeks ago, when Mr. McAuliffe led 51%-46%.
The broader pool of Virginia’s registered voters showed a statistical tie, but also a double-digit swing in Mr. Youngkin’s favor in the past two weeks.
Among registered voters, Mr. Youngkin led by just 48% to 47% — a meaningless advantage given the poll’s error margin. But two weeks ago, Mr. McAuliffe led that sample in the Fox poll by 11 percentage points — 52% to 41%.
For the last several weeks, polls in the Virginia governor’s race have shown a neck-and-neck race, with Mr. McAuliffe likelier to be leading but rarely by significantly more or any more than the margin of error.
Fox’s Thursday poll suggests a big swing has happened and is the first to show Mr. Youngkin ahead by a significant margin.
The survey sampled 1,015 likely Virginia voters and 1,212 registered Virginia voters. The error margins are, respectively, three percentage points and 2.5 percentage points.
The poll was conducted under the joint direction of Democratic firm Beacon Research and the Republican-leaning Shaw & Company Research.
The pollsters attributed Mr. Youngkin’s lead to a combination of enthusiasm — 79% of Mr. Youngkin’s supporters said they are “extremely interested” in the race versus just 69% of Mr. McAuliffe’s, and the increased profile of education in the race since Mr. McAuliffe said in a debate that parents shouldn’t be telling schools what to teach.
The pollster found a 24-point swing toward Mr. Youngkin among parents, from that group preferring the Democrat by 10 points to backing the Republican by 14.
Democratic Chris Anderson, one of the pollsters involved, said that if his party senses defeat, that could shock into supporters into closing the enthusiasm gap in the final days of the campaign.
“With the race essentially tied among the full registered voter universe, McAuliffe could still pull this off,” he said. “But it would take something big to ignite enthusiasm for McAuliffe’s candidacy and a massively effective get out the vote effort.”
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