A new poll announced Thursday has Virginia’s gubernatorial race in a statistical tie, with early voting beginning Friday. According to an Emerson College poll commissioned by WRIC, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe has the support of 49 percent of likely voters while GOP candidate Glenn Youngkin has 45 percent. That’s within the margin of error: plus or minus 3.4 percent.
“Statistically speaking, the poll isn’t telling you that McAuliffe is going to win or Youngkin is going to lose. It is really saying it is a dead heat,” Emerson College Polling Director Spencer Kimball told WRIC.
778 likely voters were polled from September 13-14. 36.6 percent identified as Democrat, 29.2 percent identified as Republican, and 34.2 percent identified as independent.
For attorney general, incumbent Mark Herring has 46.5 percent support against GOP candidate Delegate Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach), who has 40.9 percent support in the poll. The poll also found that 86.3 percent of likely voters are very or somewhat familiar with debates over Critical Race Theory (CRT) in Virginia or their community, and 47 percent support Virginia laws banning teaching CRT in schools, while 36.4 percent oppose the bans.
Gubernatorial Fundraising From Both Campaigns Hits $66 Million
On Thursday, the Virginia Public Access Project reported that Youngkin’s and McAuliffe’s fundraising through August was more than double the previous fundraising record at this point in the campaign cycle. Youngkin has raised $35.7 million, and McAuliffe has raised $30.7 million.
Youngkin’s campaign reported $15.7 million in receipts from July 1 through August 31; that includes $4.5 million in loans Youngkin made to his campaign. Youngkin already loaned his campaign $12 million in previous reporting cycles.
McAuliffe reported $11.5 million in receipts during the same period. That includes $2.5 million from the Democratic Governors Association, with other big donations coming from sources including unions, Planned Parenthood, and George Soros.
Everytown for Gun Safety Plans to Spend $1 Million for McAuliffe
CNN reported Thursday that the Michael Bloomberg-backed gun control organization intends to spend $1 million on efforts to elect McAuliffe, with an additional $300,000 for lieutenant governor candidate Delegate Hala Ayala (D-Prince William), and an additional $500,000 on Democratic House of Delegates candidates.
“John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown, said the group likely will drive even more money this fall into contests in Virginia, which he said would serve as a ‘bellwether’ for the 2022 midterm elections and the potency of gun violence as a campaign issue,” CNN reported.
In April, The Washington Post endorsed Terry McAuliffe against his primary opponents. On Thursday, The Post endorsed McAuliffe in the race against Youngkin, saying the only point in favor of Youngkin is his business experience.
“Having notched a string of successes in his first four-year term, which ended in 2018, Mr. McAuliffe — shrewd, pragmatic and tireless — has advanced an ambitious blueprint for a second term focused on education and equity,” The Post’s Editorial Board wrote. “His pro-business, moderately left-of-center priorities are in step with a state that has trended Democratic for more than a decade but has remained leery of the party’s leftward tilt elsewhere. By contrast, the Republican nominee, Glenn Youngkin, a candidate making his first run for political office, has played footsie with the scurrilously anti-democratic ‘big lie’ that election fraud propelled President Biden into office; signaled he would roll back gun-safety laws and abortion access; equivocated on same-sex marriage; and called Medicaid expansion, which provided health insurance for hundreds of thousands of Virginians, ‘sad.'”
On Thursday, Youngkin’s campaign announced endorsements from three Virginia small business organizations: National Federation of Independent Business Virginia PAC (NFIB), Associated Builders and Contractors Virginia (ABC-VA), and Virginia Contractor Procurement Alliance (VCPA).
NFIB State Director in Virginia Nicole Riley said, “Youngkin’s commitment to enacting tax relief for small businesses, protecting workers from forced unionization or the loss of their jobs and creating a reasonable regulatory environment makes him the clear choice for Governor.”
“Glenn Youngkin’s plan for Virginia supports free enterprise and fiscal responsibility. He will invest in educational programs that create both career and college ready pathways for Virginians. We believe Glenn Youngkin is the candidate best equipped to support Virginia’s commercial and industrial construction industry and its thousands of employees and suppliers,” said ABC-Virginia Chairwoman Rhonda Bridgeman, President/Owner, Comfort Systems of Virginia, Inc.
ABC-Virginia President Patrick Dean said, “Glenn will work with our industry to fix our skilled worker shortage while protecting every employee’s right to work. No employee should be compelled, as a condition of employment, to join or pay dues to a labor union. Protecting employee’s rights is of critical importance to the growth and prosperity of Virginia’s business climate.”
McAuliffe Clashes with Sheriff who Asked About Defund the Police
The Youngkin campaign posted a short clip of McAuliffe responding to Montgomery County Sheriff Hank Partin at the Virginia Sheriff’s Association conference on Wednesday. The video quickly gained thousands of views on Wednesday and Thursday.
Partin challenged McAuliffe: “On July 20th you accepted an endorsement from the New Virginia Majority. They are a large defund the police organization who want to abolish prisons and ICE. You said that you were proud to accept their endorsement.”
“I proudly accept any endorsements. I get hundreds and hundreds — groups that endorse me, I don’t know everything they do. Have I ever supported defund the police? Are you out of your mind? I’ve invested in law enforcement,” McAuliffe said.
Partin said, “So you’ll never support defunding?”
“I won’t even dignify that with an answer,” McAuliffe said. “If my track record of four years as governor is not enough for you to understand how I view on law enforcement, I will not dignify that with an answer.”
“Unbelievable,” Partin said. “I don’t believe an answer to either one of those questions.”
“I don’t care what you believe,” McAuliffe said. “I’ve got a track record, and I’m proud of my track record.”
The Youngkin campaign followed up with another tweet.
“Terry McAuliffe says he’s ‘honored’ to receive another endorsement from a group that wants to defund the police,” the campaign said, referring to The Post’s endorsement and a June 2020 article from The Post’s Editorial Board that argues that communities should look for other non-police ways to meet some community needs.
The Democratic Party of Virginia Chair Susan Swecker fired back: “Are you all day drinking over there??”
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Glenn Youngkin” by Glenn Youngkin. Photo “Terry McAuliffe” by Maryland GovPics CC BY 2.0. Background Photo “Virginia State Capitol” by Will Fisher CC BY-SA 2.0.