Roanoke College poll examines Virginia governor’s race, political hot-topics ahead of November election

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McAuliffe leads Youngkin with just over two months before the General Election.

SALEM, Va. (WFXR) – In a new poll from Roanoke College, Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) leads Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) in the battle for the governor’s mansion this November.

According to the poll, McAuliffe holds an eight-point lead (46 percent) over Youngkin (38 percent) with 13 percent of those polled still being undecided — which indicates that this could still be any man’s race.

For Lieutenant Governor, the poll indicates that Del. Hala Ayala (D-VA) leads former Del. Winsome Sears (R-VA) by six points (42 percent to 36 percent).

For Attorney General, incumbent Mark Herring (D) leads Del. Jason Miyares (R) by eight points (45 percent to 37 percent), according to the poll.

The Institute for Policy and Opinion Research interviewed 558 likely voters in Virginia between Aug. 3 and Aug. 17 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percent.

Other notes from the poll include the following:

  • Likely voters in the poll say that the economy is of utmost importance in this year’s election (26 percent). Behind that was COVID-19 (nine percent).
  • McAuliffe’s favorability rating is 44 percent while his unfavorability rating is 32 percent.
  • Youngkin’s favorability rating is 27 percent while his unfavorability rating is 21 percent.
  • Voters indicate that they prefer a candidate with governmental experience (48 percent) versus a candidate with business experience (38 percent).
  • Poll numbers say that 41 percent think that the Commonwealth is moving too far in the liberal direction versus six percent who say that Virginia is leaning more conservatively.

As far as approvals/disapprovals, the poll results say the following:

  • 48 percent approve of the way President Joe Biden is performing his duties while 43 percent disapprove. Biden’s approval rating has remained steady but his disapproval rating has risen from 30 percent in February to 43 percent in August. His favorable rating sits at 48 percent while his unfavorability rating is at 43 percent.
  • Gov. Ralph Northam’s approval rating is at 52 percent, up slightly from May, while 38 percent disapprove, also up slightly from May. Just over half of Virginians surveyed (52 percent) believe Virginia is heading in the right direction while 43 percent think Virginia is on the wrong track. He is viewed favorably by 48 percent of likely voters (a record high in a Roanoke College poll) while 37 percent view him unfavorably (one percentage point shy of that record).
  • Virginia’s General Assembly is viewed favorably by 41 percent of those polled while 35 percent disapprove.
  • As far as political parties, both major parties are viewed largely unfavorably. Republicans: 29 percent favorable vs. 50 percent unfavorable. Democrats: 41 percent favorable vs. 47 percent unfavorable.
  • The Black Lives Matter movement is being seen more positively, according to the poll (45 percent favorable vs. 36 percent unfavorable.
  • Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of likely voters have at least heard of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and almost three-quarters of that group (73 percent) say they have a good idea of what it is. Among those, 40 percent view it favorably while 47 percent review it unfavorably. As far as teaching it, slightly more of those polled say it is not a good idea (47 percent) while 44 percent say it is a good idea.

While looking at political anxiety, 80 percent of Virginians trust the federal government to do what is right only some of the time or never. A majority (55 percent) thinks that ordinary citizens can do a lot to influence the federal government and just under half (49 percent) think their side is losing more than winning in the political arena, while 30 percent believe they are winning more than losing.

Whether or not the country is heading in the right direction, more believe that the country’s best years are ahead (54 percent) versus 40 percent (a record-high in the Roanoke College poll) think its best years are behind us.

A large majority of Virginians polled (89 percent) see the nation divided in important issues facing the country.

Just under half (45 percent) of those polled say that they are dissatisfied with how the federal government is (or isn’t) working. Another 21 percent are angry while 28 percent are satisfied and two percent are enthusiastic.

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