By Jim EllisOct. 8, 2021 — A new Emerson College poll (Oct. 1-3; 620 likely Virginia voters, live interview and online panel with weighted responses) finds former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and ex-hedge fund CEO Glenn Youngkin in a virtual dead heat on the ballot test. McAuliffe is clinging to a bare 49-48 percent edge, but the underlying numbers suggest Youngkin may not be quite that close.
While Youngkin enjoys a very strong lead in the rural areas (57-42 percent) McAuliffe does better than he in the much larger urban areas (59-36 percent) thus negating, and then some, any edge the challenger may have established.
Surprisingly, considering recent poor Republican performance among suburban voters, Youngkin pulls slightly ahead of McAuliffe, 49-48 percent, within this category. Breaking even here would be a huge benefit for Youngkin should this trend prove real and is sustained.
Among women, McAuliffe has a 51-45 percent edge, which is actually a credible split for a Republican nominee in a Democratic state. Youngkin, however, needs to perform better among men than his 50-46 percent split found in this survey. Targeting men should be a key focal point for the Youngkin campaign in the closing days of the race.
Among minority groups, Emerson finds that Youngkin is outperforming a typical Republican candidate. The split among blacks, however, of 72-25 percent in McAuliffe’s favor, is suspect. Usually a Republican candidate is closer to the 10 percent level within this cell segment. It is not particularly unusual, however, to see a Republican polling better among blacks than what would be the actual performance factor once the votes are cast, and that pattern may appear again when the final votes are recorded in this contest.
The Hispanic segmentation is interesting. Republicans have been doing better within the Hispanic cell, and particularly so in 2020; so Youngkin actually leading McAuliffe within this group, 55-45 percent, may not be shocking but certainly appears inflated.
It wouldn’t be particularly surprising to see Youngkin pull more votes from Hispanics than a typical Republican candidate, but it is unlikely he would post a majority within this group. Still, while probably not as rosy a picture as this poll paints for Youngkin, it is probable that he will draw a greater Hispanic share than originally projected for him at the beginning of this campaign.