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 October 9 by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University.
Northam, now lieutenant governor, is the choice of 49 percent of the likely voters surveyed, while former Republican National Committee Chair Gillespie is the choice of 42 percent. Libertarian Cliff Hyra polled at 3 percent, with 6 percent undecided. The survey’s margin of error is +/- 4.3 percent.
In the Wason Center’s benchmark gubernatorial survey, released September 25, Northam led Gillespie, 47 percent to 41 percent. Hyra polled at 4 percent in that survey, with 8 percent 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 perecent to 40 perecent, compared with 46 perecent to 42 perecent in the benchmark poll. In the campaign for attorney general, Democratic incumbent Mark Herring leads former federal prosecutor John Adams, 51 perecent to 40 perecent, compared with 47 perecent to 42 perecent in the benchmark poll.
On issues, 33 perecent of Gillespie voters said illegal immigration was an important problem where they live, while 6 perecent 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.