In contrast to Fox News’ latest survey, a new poll by The Washington Post-Schar School shows the Virginia governor’s race within the margin of error. However, Friday’s snapshot of the race becomes more interesting when one examines the numbers closely. (RELATED: Fox News Poll Has Youngkin +8)
The poll shows Terry McAuliffe leading by one-point among likely voters (LV) and three-points among registered voters (RV). Both differences represent a statistical dead heat. They are also considerably closer than The Post-Schar School’s September poll. That survey showed McAuliffe with a three-point edge among LVs and a six-point advantage with RVs.
It May Be Even Scarier for Democrats
Upon closer examination, the survey shows Republican Glenn Youngkin’s lead with independents has grown 10-points in the past month. Youngkin now leads McAuliffe among likely independent voters by 18-points. Worse still for McAuliffe, education has become the number one issue in the election. In September, McAuliffe led Youngkin by 33 points on who voters trusted more on education. The latest numbers have Youngkin leading by nine—a 42-point shift!
Which leads us to the question of why Youngkin isn’t leading in the Post-Schar School’s poll.
The answer, at least in part, comes down to the survey sampling. While there’s no party registration in Virginia, 30% of respondents in the September poll self-identified as Democrats. In contrast, 39% said they were independent and 24% said Republican. The Oct. 20-26 poll was 34% Democrat, 33% independent and 27% Republican. In other words, more Democrats and fewer (presumably right-leaning) independents.
Meanwhile, the Early Voting Metrics Are Worrisome
At the same time, the early voting metrics are causing Democrats from McAuliffe on down to sweat.
As Bloomberg reports:
Youngkin doesn’t expect to match McAuliffe’s early voter turnout numbers, but if he can get enough of those votes to stay within striking distance, then Election Day turnout may be enough for him to win. His campaign claims he already has. …
Using commercial and government sources, the Democratic data firm TargetSmart estimated that 55% of the early vote has been cast by Democrats, 30% by Republicans and 15% by independents.
The Youngkin campaign concedes that McAuliffe is doing better on early voting, but they add he’s not doing well enough. Senior data adviser Kristin Davison said that only around 400 people voted after one recent McAuliffe event, far fewer than she had expected.
She said the Youngkin campaign projected it would have to win 35% of the early vote to remain competitive with McAuliffe heading into Election Day, which she said the campaign has already exceeded, according to its own model of the electorate.
With three days left, McAuliffe is worried and Youngkin isn’t taking anything for granted. Virginia Republicans would be wise to stay vigilant, follow the Lincoln Four-Step and “on Election Day, make sure every [conservative, libertarian and center-right independent] gets to the polls.”
That or vote early.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Republican Standard.