Wason Center Poll Shows Northam Leading Gillespie by 6%

Posted: Updated:

On the eve of Election Day, Christopher Newport University is making a bold prediction of a Democratic victory in Virginia's governor's race.

The Wason Center for Public Policy released a new poll which shows Democrat Ralph Northam leading Republican opponent Ed Gillespie by a 6 percent margin - of 51 to 45 percent.

The telephone survey polled 839 likely voters, October 29 through November 4, with an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

Meanwhile, both candidates are crisscrossing the state to rally supporters ahead of Tuesday.

Virginia is one of only two states electing a new governor, and the contest is viewed by many as an early referendum on President Donald Trump's political popularity.

Wason Center Press Release:

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- As Virginia voters prepare to choose their next governor on Tuesday, Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam leads former Republican National Committee Chair Ed Gillespie, 51% to 45%, dropping one point to a 6-point lead in the final tracking survey of likely voters by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University.

Libertarian Cliff Hyra takes 2% of the vote, with 2% undecided.

Allocating the undecided voters according to their historical pattern in Wason Center surveys of Virginia statewide elections indicates a Northam victory on Election Day, 51.3% to 46.8%.

Northam’s lead is demographically and regionally broad. He leads among independents by 13 points (51% to 38%) and moderates by 29 points (62% to 33%).

He holds significant leads among women, black voters, younger voters, voters with incomes below $50,000, and in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

Gillespie leads among white voters and men, but the candidates are statistically tied among voters 45 and older and voters in Southwest-Southside, two normally reliable Republican segments.

Likely voters are firmly in their partisan and ideological corners, with Northam getting 98% of Democratic and 91% of liberal votes and Gillespie taking 95% of Republican and 86% of conservative votes.

“While each candidate seems to have locked down his base, Northam appears to be winning the appeal to political independents and ideological moderates,” said Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center.

“It’s hard to see how Gillespie can make up this deficit when he has consistently trailed Northam among independents by more than 10 points,” said Rachel Bitecofer, assistant director of the Wason Center. “To put it in perspective, in 2013 the Republican led among independents but still ended up losing by 2.6 percent.”

Down-ticket, the Democratic candidates continue to lead their Republican rivals. In the race for lieutenant governor, Democrat Justin Fairfax leads Republican state Sen. Jill Vogel, 50% to 45%.

Seeking a second term as attorney general, incumbent Democrat Mark Herring leads John Adams, 49% to 45%.

The Wason Center surveyed 839 likely Virginia voters, Oct. 29-Nov. 4. The overall margin of error is +/- 3.5%.

The full report is attached, with trend chart and table. Dr. Kidd and Dr. Bitecofer are available for interviews.