Energized by backlash to President Trump, Virginia Democrats head into the 2018 midterm elections with significant advantages, according to a new voter survey by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. “The question is no longer whether there is a Blue Wave coming, but rather, how high the storm surge will get,” said Rachel Bitecofer, assistant director of the Wason Center.
Significantly more Democrats (60%) than Republicans (45%) are ‘very enthusiastic’ about voting in November. Voters prefer Democrats to Republicans on the generic ballot (45%-33%) and want Democrats to control Congress after the election (51%-38%). Those gaps widen among likely voters. “This enthusiasm gap suggests several Republican House seats could be in play,” said Bitecofer, singling out the 1st, 2nd, 7th, and 10th districts.
Half of the voters surveyed (50%) say they believe individuals in the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election, while 42% said they do not believe any coordination happened. Party identification is a strong determinant, with 81% of Republicans rejecting the idea of collusion and 81% of Democrats believing it. Independents are evenly split.
Dreams, drilling, taxes
On issues, Virginia voters overwhelmingly support the Dream Act (71%-25%), which provides a pathway to legal status or citizenship for children brought into the country illegally by their parents. They strongly oppose drilling for oil off Virginia’s coast (54%-37%), a ban on which was recently lifted by President Trump. And they are evenly divided on the recently enacted Tax Cut and Reform Bill (45% approve-47% disapprove).
“From the enthusiasm gap to the Dream Act to collusion with the Russians, a sharp partisan divide is evident among Virginia voters,” said Quentin Kidd, the Center’s director. “Nine months out, it looks like we’re setting up for a base election with Democrats holding an upper hand.”