And They’re Off!

The nominees have been set, and the election is in five months – which, of course, means it’s poll time!!!!!

What? No cheering?

Seriously, with many thanks to CNalysis and their donors, we have the first non-internal poll of Campaign 2021 – and what do you know, it has a little something for everyone.

For the Democrats, they are ahead in every statewide race:

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.

Of course, with a 4.2% Margin of error, these “leads” don’t mean much (especially for T-Mac). Moreover, even Creigh Deeds had a lead over Bob McDonnell in June (from Rasmussen, no less). Like every other gubernatorial race going back to the 1990s, this one starts the summer in a competitive state (the landslides seen in ’93, ’97, ’09, and ’17 didn’t become altogether clear until the fall – and in the case of 2017, on Election Night itself).

The explicitly good news for the Republicans comes in the House of Delegates polling:

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.

Reminder: Democrats won 55 seats with a popular vote margin of 8% in 2019. If the GOP really does close that gap to 1 point in November, they will indeed return to majority status in the House.

For the next three months, the tickets and parties will overspend on television and possibly underspend on social media to tout themselves and slam their opponents, all the while hoping and praying that whatever happens nationally doesn’t destroy their plans for victory. It’s all but certain someone will be disappointed.

If Virginia really is leaning blue, then T-Mac et al should be able to ride out whatever storm Washington sends their way, but if the 1990s are any indication, it’ll take a while before we know that. Likewise, 2009 tells us that if a more competitive Virginia decides to hedge its bets and put the DC outsiders in charge here, we won’t know that until the leaves change.

So, buckle up, Virginia, and follow Bearing Drift to get the ups and downs as they happen!

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