Roanoke College poll shows McAuliffe leads Youngkin in VA governor’s race

Virginia News

(Photo: Courtesy Roanoke College)

SALEM, Va. (WFXR) – In the latest Roanoke College poll, former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe has a seven percentage point lead (48 to 41 percent) over Republican contender Glenn Youngkin; however, nine percent of those surveyed are still listed as undecided.

McAuliffe’s favorable rating is 50 percent while his unfavorable rating is at 37 percent while 13 percent are unsure or not knowing enough to have an opinion.

Youngkin’s favorable rating is at 40 percent, according to the poll, while his unfavorable rating is at 41 percent. Both numbers show significant increases in the past month. Twenty percent of likely voters, though, do not have an opinion about him.

The poll also indicates that Democrats are also leading in other statewide races.

Lieutenant Governor

Del. Hala Ayala (D) is ahead of former Del. Winsome Sears (R) 45 to 40 percent

Attorney General

Mark Herring (D) is leading Del. Jason Miyares (R) 47 to 37 percent.

The poll did show Republicans are holding an advantage in being extremely enthusiastic about voting (43 percent) over Democrats (35 percent) while about nine in 10 partisans say they are almost certain to vote (91 percent of Republicans versus 88 percent of Democrats).

Likely voters indicate the following issues as being hot topics in next month’s election:

  • Economy (21 percent)
  • COVID-19 (19 percent)
  • Race relations (six percent)
  • Health care (six percent)

Other indicators in the Roanoke College poll:

President Joe Biden

Half of likely voters (50 percent) say they approve of the way President Joe Biden is handling his job while 45 percent disapprove. Biden’s approval rating has remained largely stable but his disapproval rating is been rising since he took office, according to the poll. A total of 51 percent of those surveyed view him as favorable while 46 percent view him as unfavorable. Thirty-five percent of respondents say they believe the country is heading in the right direction while 58 percent say the country is on the wrong track.

A majority of likely voters (59 percent) believe the decision to pull out of Afghanistan was the correct choice. Two-thirds (66 percent) think the United States failed in achieving its goals. Seventy-three percent of those surveyed rate the Biden administration in Afghanistan as fair or poor and 90 percent view the Taliban’s control in Afghanistan as a threat to the security of the United States.

Gov. Ralph Northam

Gov. Ralph Northam’s job approval rating is at 55 percent while 40 percent disapprove of his job performance. Just over half (52 percent) believe that Virginia is heading in the right direction but 43 percent think Virginia is heading in the wrong direction.

Northam’s favorability is viewed positively by 54 percent of likely voters (a record high for him in a Roanoke College poll) and is seen unfavorably by 39 percent (also a record high).


Regarding the Commonwealth’s budget surplus, voters want to see funding for education (42 percent) or tax cuts (29 percent) while fewer want to see more money allocated for social programs (20 percent) or salary increases for state employees (six percent). A majority of likely voters who were surveyed in the poll (62 percent) think abortion should be legal in most or all cases while just short of one-third (32 percent) think it should be illegal in most or all cases.


The poll results show that 74 percent of Virginia residents know someone who has contracted COVID-19. A total of 79 respondents (18 percent) had the virus themselves. Just over half (51 percent) have a family member who was sick. That same number (51 percent) have a friend or relative who had the virus. Two-thirds (66 percent) are either very or somewhat concerned that they or someone in their household will contract the virus.

Sixty-one percent think they would be slightly ill if they got COVID-19, which is up significantly since Roanoke College asked this question in November 2020. Eight percent think they would be very ill and another seven percent think they would be extremely sick and perhaps die (both down from November 2020). Only 10 percent believe they would show no symptoms.

Of those who had the virus, 43 percent say they were slightly ill while 38 percent say they were very ill. Seven percent say they were extremely sick and 12 percent were asymptomatic.

Furthermore, 42 percent of those who responded say they media coverage has made the virus seem worse than it really is while 38 percent believe the coverage has been accurate.

The poll results indicate that 82 percent of respondents say they are fully vaccinated — up from 62 percent in May. Three percent say they plan to be vaccinated and 11 percent say they will not get vaccinated.

Forty-seven percent say the response from the state government has been appropriate to slow the spread of the virus.

For the first time, more respondents say the federal government’s response is appropriate (35 percent) while 34 percent say the federal government is not going far enough but 26 percent believe the federal government has gone too far.

The Institute for Policy and Opinion Research interviewed 603 likely voters in Virginia between Sept. 12 and Sept. 26 and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus four percent.

The full results of the poll can be found below:

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