Our first statewide poll and legislative data science project in Virginia was conducted in February 2021. It showed the best starting political environment we’d seen in cycles: D+4.
Republicans were more competitive in key state legislative seats based on the model than our polling showed (and final results bore out) in 2017 and 2019 (of course, we lost a lot of seats those years and the majority in ’19).
About 84 polls later in the state, we knew Tuesday, November 2nd was going to be a good one for Republicans in Virginia.
We released an internal poll from Oct 21-23 that showed the Governor’s race tied down to the tenth of a percent. Around that same time, another Cygnal team was siloed off and tasked with creating a totally different approach to nightly tracking polls: an experimental tracker that would combine polling and modeling and data science…they got the exact same result during that same time period.
Over the next nearly two weeks, the experimental tracker then showed a breakaway for McAuliffe, a tightening of the race, another smaller breakaway for McAuliffe, and final momentum for Youngkin with a 2.0% victory. All the tracking poll swings were predicted a day or so in advance by the model, including the Republican win. It also showed an increase in Election Day turnout that would peg total turnout around 3.1 – 3.3 million.
We also ran our own multi-mode Exit Poll on Tuesday. The final generic ballot was R+2…Republicans flipped the House of Delegates with a seven-seat pickup and now hold a two-seat margin. The final statewide ballots were Youngkin +2, Sears +2, and Miyares +2. All spot-on! (Read more about the Cygnal Virginia Exit Poll.)
All this to say, our team did some incredible work for equally incredible clients – from national committees to the caucuses in Virginia and New Jersey to individual campaigns and IEs all the way west to Colorado.
We learned a ton and look forward to sharing those findings over the coming weeks.
Congratulations to all the winning campaigns, committees, and caucuses!! Y’all had hard-fought campaigns and deserve the praise for all that time and money invested.