Poll: Democrats Hold Slight Leads in 2021 Virginia Elections

With the 2021 Virginia elections a mere 141 days away, the elections for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and House of Delegates are all single-digit races; the elections for Governor and House of Delegates are also currently within the margin of error.

(Photo Credit: McAuliffe for Virginia, Ayala for Virginia, Herring for Virginia)

In a poll conducted between June 9th and June 12th, JMC Analytics spoke with 550 likely voters within a sample representative of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s total demographics.

41% of respondents identified as Democrats, 35% identified as Republicans, and 23% identified as Independents or third party. 50% say they voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, 42% say they voted for Donald Trump, 4% say they voted third party, and 3% say they did not vote in the 2020 presidential election.

49% of respondents approved of President Biden’s job in the White House so far, 44% disapproved, and 7% had no opinion.

Governor Northam’s approval was lower than President Biden’s, with just 45% of respondents approving of his job performance, 44% disapproving, and 11% having no opinion.

In the race for Governor, former Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) had 46% of respondents say they planned on voting for him, while 42% plan to vote for former Carlyle Group CEO Glenn Youngkin (R), with 12% of respondents undecided. This gives McAuliffe a 4 point lead in the race for Governor.

In the race for Lieutenant Governor, 42% of respondents planned on voting for Delegate Hala Ayala (D), while 36% of respondents planned on voting for former Delegate Winsome Sears (R), with 22% undecided. This puts Ayala at a 6 point lead in the race for Lieutenant Governor.

In the race for Attorney General, incumbent Attorney General Mark Herring (D) netted the support of 45% of respondents, while Delegate Jason Miyares (R) earned 38%, with 17% undecided. This gives Herring a 7 point lead in the race for Attorney General.

In the House of Delegates generic ballot, 44% of respondents chose Democrats in their district election, with 43% aligning with the Republicans, and 14% undecided. This gives Democrats a 1 point lead in the race for the House of Delegates popular vote.

Overall, Democrats have marginal plurality leads in each contest. However, if Democrats were to only win the House of Delegates popular vote by 1% in November, they would almost certainly lose the chamber due to Republican gerrymandering in several districts as well as overrepresentation of rural, overwhelmingly conservative areas that have lost population since the initial map was drawn in 2011.

The most surprising result of this poll is that the race for Governor appears to be the tightest of the statewide races. If the race for Governor ends up having the tightest margin in November compared to the races for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, it would be the first instance of such an event since 1989 when Doug Wilder (D) was elected Governor.

Another surprising result that emerged whilst delving into the crosstabs: Despite Delegate Jason Miyares (R) hailing from Virginia Beach, he is the worst-performing Republican in the statewide elections– Youngkin and Sears are both down by 6 in the region while Miyares trails by 8. Herring is the best performing Democrat in nearly every region, likely due to his incumbency advantage.

It comes as no shock that precisely zero Democrats have earned a majority of the vote; yet, with such a long way away from the election, it’s also no shock that they’re coming up short of President Biden’s 10-point victory in the Commonwealth last year. As Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball noted, ever since Virginia became a two-party state, there has been a swing against the party in the White House compared to the incumbent President’s performance in the Commonwealth in the year prior to the gubernatorial election. 

Another unsurprising stat here is that the race for Lieutenant Governor also has the handicap of having the highest number of undecided voters, given the lack of name recognition shared by both major party candidates.

Of note, both McAuliffe and Youngkin have room to grow in their respective dominant regions, with McAuliffe in Northern Virginia and Youngkin in Western Virginia. McAuliffe is only up 18 points in Northern Virginia and Youngkin only up 17 in Western Virginia; Biden won Northern Virginia by about 30 points, and Trump won Western Virginia by about 30 points.
You can view the full results of the poll, crosstabs included, here. We would like to once again thank the 141 donors who made this poll possible.