RICHMOND, Va. — Voters casting ballots in the tight race for Virginia governor rank the economy as the top issue facing the commonwealth, with the coronavirus pandemic and education trailing.
In the contest between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin, 34% of Virginia voters say the economy and jobs was the most important issue facing the state. Seventeen percent name COVID-19 and 14% choose education. That’s according to AP VoteCast, a survey of voters.
Health care (7%), climate change (7%), racism (5%), immigration (5%), abortion (5%) and law enforcement (4%) were all lower-tier issues.
The race is the most closely watched and competitive contest since Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump last year, and is seen as a gauge of voters’ feelings ahead of next year’s midterms.
Youngkin, a former private equity executive, often asserted Virginia’s economy was “in the ditch,” but a majority of voters disagreed. Fifty-six percent said the state’s economy is in good shape, compared with 44% saying economic conditions are poor.
Schools became a focus of the race in its final weeks. A quarter of Virginia voters say the debate over teaching critical race theory in schools was the single most important factor in their vote for governor, but a similar percentage identified the debate over handling COVID-19 in schools as most important.