News Update

The gubernatorial race could foreshadow what will happen across the US during next year's midterms

About one-third of Virginia voters call the economy the most important issue facing the state, placing it ahead of other topics that have dominated headlines in the closing days of the gubernatorial race.

Just under one-quarter said education is most important, about 16% chose taxes, about 13% chose the coronavirus pandemic and just about one-tenth chose abortion. 

Terry McAuliffe voters call the economy their top issue, followed by the coronavirus and education. Among Glenn Youngkin voters, the economy is the top issue, followed by education and taxes. Most voters take a positive view of Virginia’s economy, with about 55% rating it either excellent or good.

Although the pandemic isn’t at the top of voters’ concerns, nearly all are vaccinated and a smaller majority are supportive of workplace vaccine mandates. The vast majority of Virginia voters, close to 9 in 10, say they’ve gotten at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and just over half say they favor employers requiring their employees to get vaccinated.

Virginia voters in this year’s elections hold negatives of both President Biden and former president Donald Trump. 

Biden, who won comfortably in Virginia last year, now faces approval ratings significantly underwater in the state, with roughly 43% approving and the rest disapproving – likely a consequence both of his declining ratings since taking office, and the composition of the electorate that turned out to vote this year. Only about one-fifth of voters say they view their vote as a way to express support for Biden, with nearly 3 in 10 saying it’s a way to express opposition, and the remaining half of the electorate saying Biden wasn’t a factor. Trump isn’t any more popular in the state: only about 4 in 10 view him favorably. 

A narrow majority of voters say the Democratic Party is too liberal overall, while fewer call the Republican Party too conservative. About two-thirds of Democratic voters say their own party’s ideology is about right, while about two-thirds of Republicans say the same of the GOP. Independents are less satisfied with either party, with only about one-fifth saying the Democratic Party is generally about right, and only about one-third saying that of the GOP. 

More than 80% of voters say they’re at least somewhat confident that votes in the state will be counted accurately, but slightly below half call themselves very confident. Democrats are roughly four times as likely as Republicans to say they’re very confident about election accuracy. 

Note: The Virginia CNN Exit Poll is a combination of in-person interviews with Election Day voters and telephone and online polls measuring the views of absentee by-mail and early voters. It was conducted by Edison Research on behalf of the National Election Pool. In-person interviews on Election Day were conducted at a random sample of 35 Virginia polling locations among 1,211 Election Day voters. The results also include 2,068 interviews with early and absentee voters conducted by phone, online or by text. Results for the full sample have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points; it is larger for subgroups.  

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