CBS News poll: Vaccine, economy drive tight Virginia governor's race

The Virginia governor’s race is but one state contest, an entire year before the midterms. So why are the nation’s political eyes all watching it so intensely? Because, as our poll finds, it’ll turn on the very issues voters across the country are facing: vaccines and mandates, the economy and jobs, feelings about Joe Biden and, for some, about Donald Trump, too.

And also because it looks close.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe, the former governor, leads Republican Glenn Youngkin by a narrow three points in the preferences of likely voters. McAuliffe hits 50% including voters leaning his way, but there are some clear warning signs for Democrats: Youngkin leads with independents, and his backers look more enthusiastic about voting and firmer in their choice. While Democrats are banking an early-vote lead, McAuliffe still needs to turn out most of the voters who came out for Mr. Biden last year.

On issues, this race is shaping up to be about approaches to coronavirus versus the economy. McAuliffe has the advantage on COVID-related issues, like mask and vaccine mandates. Most voters statewide support vaccine mandates for Virginia businesses, putting them at odds with Youngkin’s position. Voters think McAuliffe would do a better job than Youngkin in handling vaccine issues, and more cite mandates as very motivating to their turnout than any other issue tested, also helping give McAuliffe an edge.

Youngkin leads among voters saying Virginia’s economy

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