Get the daily newsletter!

From University of Mary Washington

Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and Republican nominee Ed Gillespie remain locked in a tight contest for governor of Virginia, with 44 percent of likely voters favoring Northam and 39 percent backing Gillespie in a new University of Mary Washington statewide survey.

Libertarian candidate Cliff Hyra received the support of 3 percent of likely voters, with others undecided in the 1,000-person survey of Virginia adults. The statewide poll of state residents was conducted for UMW by Princeton Survey Research Associates International Sept. 5-12.

The 5-point difference between the two major party candidates is within the margin of error for likely voters.

“The latest Mary Washington survey demonstrates that both candidates have a lot of work to do between now and November,” said Stephen J. Farnsworth, professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington and director of its Center for Leadership and Media Studies. “The large number of undecided voters at this stage demonstrates that either major party candidate can become the next governor of Virginia.”

Terry McAuliffe, the current governor, is ineligible to run for re-election because of term limits.

Despite combative primaries among Democrats and Republicans earlier this year, both major party candidates have locked down most of the likely voters with partisan preferences. Northam and Gillespie each have the support of 91 percent of those who identify with their party. Among likely voters who call themselves independent, 39 percent backed Gillespie as compared to 30 percent for Northam.

Gillespie had the support of 90 percent of the likely voters in the survey who said they voted for Donald Trump last year; Northam is winning 86 percent of last year’s Hillary Clinton voters who are likely to vote in this contest in November. The Clinton ticket, which included Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) as the vice presidential nominee, won the commonwealth by 5.4 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election.

“Both campaigns have secured nearly all the party loyalists,” Farnsworth said. “Hesitation to support the eventual nominees in their respective parties has just about disappeared.”

Northam enjoys a double-digit advantage over Gillespie among likely voters in vote-rich Northern Virginia (55 percent versus 27 percent), while Gillespie received 48 percent (compared to 38 percent for Northam) in the western part of the state. Differences in other regions – Northwest Virginia (48 percent Gillespie, 40 percent Northam) and South Central Virginia (45 percent Northam, 40 percent Gillespie) – were within single digits, and the Tidewater region tied at 41 percent supporting each candidate.

The survey revealed a gender gap among likely voters. Among women, 50 percent favored Northam, 33 percent backed Gillespie and 2 percent supported Hyra, with the rest undecided. Among men, 46 percent favored Gillespie, compared to 37 percent for Northam and 4 percent for Hyra, with the rest undecided.

Among likely voters who are white, 51 percent said they supported Gillespie and 37 percent favored Northam. Among likely voters who are African American, Northam had a 67 percent to 10 percent advantage in the survey, with 19 percent undecided. Among likely voters who are Hispanic, Northam had a 57 percent to 30 percent advantage.

Questions about the other statewide offices on the November ballot revealed similar results to those found in the race for governor. In the contest for lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax (D) received the support of 45 percent of likely voters, as compared to 40 percent for Sen. Jill Vogel (R). In the race for attorney general, incumbent Mark Herring (D) received the support of 47 percent, as compared to 40 percent for John Adams (R). As was the case for the results regarding the race for governor, these differences are within the margin of error.

Survey Information:
The University of Mary Washington’s Virginia Survey Fall 2017 obtained telephone interviews with a representative sample of 1,000 adults, ages 18 or older, living in Virginia. Telephone interviews were conducted by landline (350) and cell phone (650, including 352 without a landline phone). The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI). Interviews were done in English under the direction of Princeton Data Source from September 5 to 12, 2017. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ± 3.8 percentage points. For results based on likely voters [N=562], the margin of sampling error is ±5.2 percentage points.

For the full survey, see the Topline.

For further information, contact Stephen J. Farnsworth at

Fredericksburg in your inbox!

Fredericksburg in your inbox!

Join the mailing list to receive the latest news about the Fredericksburg Region

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This