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Mary Washington poll shows tight contests for statewide races, with GOP boosts among likely voters
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Mary Washington poll shows tight contests for statewide races, with GOP boosts among likely voters

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Virginia Governor Debate

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe and Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin greet each other at the start of a debate at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Va., Sept. 16. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

A new poll from the University of Mary Washington signals tight contests for Virginia’s statewide offices, with signs of momentum for GOP candidates among likely voters.

Among likely voters, Republican Glenn Youngkin received 48% while Terry McAuliffe received 43% and Liberation Party candidate Princess Blanding received 2% of the vote, with others undecided.

Among registered voters the tally differed, with McAuliffe, the former governor, receiving 46% to Youngkin’s 41%. For the entire survey, McAuliffe, received the backing of 43%, compared with 38% for Youngkin and 2% for Blanding.

The difference in the figures for likely voters could signal GOP motivation to regain the governorship for the first time since Bob McDonnell left office in 2014. Republicans have not won a statewide election in Virginia since 2009.

McAuliffe has received higher levels of support than Youngkin in most polls, but the University of Mary Washington survey is the latest indication that dissatisfaction with the Biden administration is bleeding into the Virginia contest. Among all respondents in the UMW survey, 49% thought the nation was moving in the wrong direction, and just 23% said it was moving in the right direction.

“Right now, this year’s contest for governor looks to be the closest statewide election in years,” said Stephen J. Farnsworth, professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington and director of UMW’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies, noting that with former President Donald Trump out of office, “this election looks very different from those of the past four years.”

He added: “This is an electorate in a very foul mood,” as COVID-19 “has created the biggest health care and economic shocks to the world in decades and we prematurely thought the crises were over.”

In the contest for lieutenant governor, Republican Winsome Sears received the support of 47% of likely voters, to 41% for Del. Hala Ayala of Prince William, the Democratic candidate. Among all respondents, Sears and Ayala each received 38%.

In the contest for attorney general, Del. Jason Miyares, the GOP nominee, received 46% among likely voters, compared with 42% for Democrat Mark Herring, the incumbent seeking a third term. Among all respondents, Herring received 40% and Miyares 37%.

The survey, conducted Sept. 7-13 by Research America Inc., included 1,000 Virginia adults, of whom 885 were registered voters and 528 were likely voters. The survey’s margin of error was plus or minus 4.1 percentage points for likely voters and plus or minus 3.1 percentage points for the entire sample.

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Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin will meet at the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College on Tuesday for their second gubernatorial debate. At 7 p.m., it will air for an hour on NBC affiliates around the state.

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