Potential Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie received the support of 40 percent of Virginia registered voters surveyed as compared to 33 percent saying they favored Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, according to a new survey sponsored by the University of Mary Washington’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies.
Both leading candidates for the 2017 election are largely unknown to Virginia voters, the survey found, even though Gillespie lost a closely fought Senate election in 2014 against Democrat Mark Warner, and Northam won a state-wide election in 2013. Either or both of the candidates may yet face a competition to secure their party’s nomination.
Among registered voters, 9 percent had a favorable impression of Gillespie, 9 percent had a negative impression, and 77 percent said they had not heard enough to express an opinion. For Northam, 8 percent of registered voters had a favorable impression, 4 percent had an unfavorable impression and 82 percent had not heard enough about him to form an impression.
“Both candidates have an opportunity to be governor,” said Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science at UMW and director of the university’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies. “With so many voters uncertain of what to make of either candidate, there will be a lot of efforts to persuade voters between now and November 2017.”
Among all Virginia adults surveyed, Gillespie received 36 percent support and Northam 33 percent support in the potential gubernatorial match-up.
The telephone survey of 1,006 adult Virginians, including 814 registered voters, was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI) from November 4 to 9, 2015. About 60 percent of the respondents were contacted via cellphone and about 40 percent via landline. The interviews took place before last week’s presidential nomination debates and before Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris.
The poll numbers come as voters expressed increasing concern about the state of the commonwealth. In this survey, 38 percent said Virginia was on the right track, as compared to 43 percent saying Virginia was on the wrong track. In UMW’s March 2013 statewide survey, 47 percent said the state was on the right track and 37 percent believed it was on the wrong track.
Public perceptions of Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) remained steady in the most recent poll. In this survey, 43 percent of those surveyed approved of his performance, while 33 percent disapproved. In the October 2014 survey, the figures were 44 percent approval and 31 percent disapproval.
Overall, 47 percent of the Virginians surveyed said they approved of President Obama, with 48 percent expressing disapproval. In the October 2014 UMW poll, Obama registered 43 percent approval and 50 percent disapproval.
For the full survey, see the Topline.
Contact: Stephen J. Farnsworth at 703-380-3025 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fall 2015 Virginia Survey, sponsored by University of Mary Washington (UMW), obtained telephone interviews with a representative sample of 1,006 adults living in Virginia. Telephone interviews were conducted by landline (402) and cell phone (604, including 303 without a landline phone). The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI). Interviews were done in English by Princeton Data Source from November 4 to 9, 2015. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ± 3.5 percentage points.