Virginia's former Democratic Gov.Terry McAuliffe will face off against Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin on Tuesday, and analysts expect an extremely close contest, the results of which may not be clear on election night. But the biggest names in polling have analyzed the race and found the momentum appears to be with Youngkin.
A Fox News poll released Thursday showed Youngkin up a whopping 8 points over his Democratic opponent, with 53% of Virginia likely voters supporting the Republican and only 45% of them backing McAuliffe. That lead fell outside the poll's margin of error, a massive shift from two weeks prior, when McAuliffe enjoyed a 5-point lead, at 51-46.
Similarly, Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics rated the governor's race "Leans Republican," while it had previously characterized the race as "Leans Democratic."
While Virginia "is clearly trending Democratic," Youngkin enjoys "many significant advantages," the report added. Although the results of the Virginia governor race often serve as a bellwether for midterm elections the following year, the Sabato report warned that this is not always the case.
FiveThirtyEight also gives Youngkin an advantage, albeit a smaller one. The FiveThirtyEight compilation of polls puts the Republican ahead but well within a margin of error, 47.8% to 46.8%. FiveThirtyEight includes two citations for a Washington Post/George Mason University poll (conducted from Oct. 20 to 26) that found McAuliffe ahead with likely voters 49% to 48%, and registered voters 49% to 45%.
The most recent polls have leaned Youngkin, however.
The RealClearPolitics polling average gives Youngkin a stronger but still small lead at 1.7%. RCP puts Youngkin at 48.5% to McAuliffe's 46.8%.
Several earlier polls had put McAuliffe ahead, but that lead appears to have reversed.
A Roanoke College poll conducted between Oct. 14 and 28 found McAuliffe ahead by 1 point (47% to 46%), well within the margin of error. A Christopher Newport University Wason Center poll conducted from Oct. 17 to 25 also put McAuliffe ahead, 49% to 48%, also well within the margin of error. A USA Today/Suffolk University poll conducted between Oct. 21 and 24 found McAuliffe with a razor-thin lead, 45.6% to 45.2%.
With Fox News, Sabato Crystal Ball, FiveThirtyEight, and RCP each showing Youngkin taking a lead right at the tail end of the race, those earlier polling results may no longer be operative.