McClellan, Foy Pick Up Wins in Weekend Straw Polls

By Brian Carlton

March 29, 2021

Polls highlight some shifts in the governor’s race, with three candidates separating from the pack.

FAIRFAX-We saw two polls and two different results in the governor’s race this weekend. But one constant is that the field appears to be narrowing, as more groups outline a “final three” in the Democratic group. 

First up was the Arlington Straw Poll, where former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy took first place. Foy claimed 55% of the vote, with former governor Terry McAuliffe taking 24% and State Sen. Jennifer McClellan picking up 21%. Those roles were reversed one day later, as McClellan won the Fairfax “Pick Your Pony” Poll, with McAuliffe second and Foy in third. 

Fairfax used a ranked voting system to determine their winner. That means the poll goes through several rounds until you have a candidate with more than 50%. In each round, the candidate with the fewest number of votes is eliminated, with those ballots shifting to the person’s second choice. For example, if you picked Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax and he went out in the first round, your vote goes to the person you ranked second. It gives a look at not just the first option for voters, but who they would choose second and so on.  

Voters Asked to ‘Pick Your Pony’ 

In the end, McClellan finished with 60.9% of the Fairfax votes and McAuliffe placed second with 39.1%. But just as important as the end result is a look at how we got there. First off, we’re talking about a sample size of just under 300 total votes. Also, it took four rounds to arrive at the final decision. 

In the first round, McClellan picked up 34% (87 votes), McAuliffe collected 30.9% (79 votes) and Carroll Foy had 28.5% (73 votes). Del. Lee Carter and Fairfax finished with 4.7% (12 votes) and 2% (5 votes) respectively. Since Fairfax had the lowest number of votes, he was eliminated in Round Two. Carter followed in Round Three. That left McClellan with 35.9% (92 votes) and Carroll Foy tied with McAuliffe at 32% (82 votes). The final round pushed McClellan to the overwhelming win, with McAuliffe coming in second. 

What Does It Mean? 

What does the result mean? That depends on who you ask. If you look at this weekend’s results and compare them to Gerry Connolly’s earlier poll, which also came from Northern Virginia Democrats, you see a few changes. 

First is the rise of former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy. She went from 4% in February to 20% in early March and now wins Arlington’s poll, while finishing third in Fairfax. Second is the climb for State Sen. Jennifer McClellan. She was also at 4% in February, then climbed to 30% in early March. Her win Sunday comes in what’s called the largest straw poll in the Commonwealth. And then there’s the former governor. McAuliffe collected 26% of the vote in February, then jumped up to 40% in early March. 

Up next for the five candidates is the first televised debate on April 6. Then early voting begins April 24 for the June 8 primary. 

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