Democrat Ralph Northam’s lead over Republican Ed Gillespie in the contest to be Virginia’s next governor has increased slightly, according to a tracking poll released today by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University.
Northam, now lieutenant governor, is the choice of 49% of the likely voters surveyed, while former Republican National Committee Chair Gillespie is the choice of 42%. Libertarian Cliff Hyra polled at 3%, with 6% undecided. The survey’s margin of error is +/- 4.3%.
In the Wason Center’s benchmark gubernatorial survey, released September 25, Northam led Gillespie, 47% to 41%. Hyra polled at 4% in that survey, with 8% undecided.
“The movement we see in this tracking poll runs in the Democrats’ favor, and all three continue to hold their advantage,” said Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center.
In the other statewide races, the leads of both Democrats grew, compared with the September 25 results, as the Republican candidates polled lower than in the benchmark poll. Democrat Justin Fairfax, a former federal prosecutor, leads Republican state Senator Jill Vogel in the lieutenant governor’s race, 48% to 40%, compared with 46% to 42% in the benchmark poll. In the campaign for attorney general, Democratic incumbent Mark Herring leads former federal prosecutor John Adams, 51% to 40%, compared with 47% to 42% in the benchmark poll.
On issues, 33% of Gillespie voters said illegal immigration was an important problem where they live, while 6% of Northam voters held that view. Very strong majorities of both Gillespie voters and Northam voters said crime in general and gang-related crime in particular were not problems where they live.
“Gillespie’s focus on crime and immigration appear to be attempts to appeal to his base, specifically those Republicans who voted for his primary opponent,” said Rachel Bitecofer, assistant director of the Wason Center.