Four prominent Democratic presidential candidates hold double-digit leads over President Donald Trump in hypothetical 2020 election contests in Virginia, according to a new University of Mary Washington statewide survey.
The survey, conducted Sept. 3-15 for UMW by Research America Inc., found former Vice President Joe Biden had a 55 percent to 37 percent margin over Trump among all respondents. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren had a 53 to 38 percent margin over Trump, as did Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. California Sen. Kamala Harris, the fourth Democratic candidate considered in the Virginia survey, had a 50 percent to 38 percent margin over the president.
The remaining respondents were uncertain or declined to express a favorite in those head-to-head match-ups.
Registered voters in the survey expressed similar preferences. Among the 882 registered voters in the survey, all four candidates retained their double-digit advantages over Trump, including Biden (55 percent to 38 percent), Warren and Sanders (both 52 percent to 39 percent) and Harris (50 percent to 39 percent). These margins were quite similar to the full sample results.
The four Democratic candidates compared to Trump in the Mary Washington survey were among the top candidates as measured in national surveys conducted in recent months.
The Virginia survey was completed before Tuesday’s announcement by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Congress would consider impeachment charges against President Trump. The Speaker’s announcement followed disclosures that President Trump may have blocked $391 million in congressionally approved financial support to the new Ukrainian government as a way of pressuring the nation’s new president to investigate the Biden family.
“The latest Mary Washington survey demonstrates that Donald Trump faces an uphill battle in Virginia next year against a range of possible challengers,” said Stephen J. Farnsworth, professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington and director of its Center for Leadership and Media Studies. “While a lot can change in 14 months, these are not encouraging results for Trump and other Republicans who might be on the ballot with him next year.”
The 2016 presidential ticket of Hillary Clinton and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine carried the Commonwealth by more than five percentage points that year. In 2018, Democratic congressional candidates defeated three incumbent Republicans, creating a U.S. House delegation from Virginia with a 7-4 Democratic majority.
In the Biden-Trump match-up, the president faces a significant gender gap in Virginia, as women said they favored Biden by a 60-31 percent margin, while men split for Biden by a 49-43 percent margin. There is also a difference among voters of varying ages: two-thirds of the voters under the age of 25 favored Biden, as compared to just under half of the voters 55 years of age or older.
Whites split almost evenly between Biden and Trump, while African Americans favored Biden by an 84-10 percent margin and Latino Americans favored him by a 58-32 percent margin, with the rest undecided.
Biden had a huge advantage over Trump in Northern Virginia, where the former vice president enjoys a 69 percent to 26 percent margin, and in Tidewater, where Biden was favored by a 53 percent to 37 percent margin. Respondents in the northwestern regions of the state beyond the Washington suburbs backed Trump over Biden by a 54 percent to 37 percent margin, the president’s best regional performance in Virginia.
Respondents in the survey offered roughly the same gender, age, geographic, racial and ethnic gaps for all four Democratic candidates when each was compared to Trump in the survey.
“Negative reactions in Virginia to the Trump presidency helped propel Democratic candidates to major victories in the 2017 House of Delegates and the 2018 Congressional elections,” Farnsworth said. “The results in the survey suggest that at this point 2020 is looking to be yet another tough year for the GOP in the Old Dominion.”
The University of Mary Washington’s Virginia Survey Fall 2019 included telephone interviews with a representative sample of 1,009 adults, ages 18 or older, living in Virginia. Telephone interviews were conducted by landline (293) and cell phone (716). The survey was conducted by Research America Inc. Interviews were done in English from Sept. 3 to 15, 2019. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ± 3.1 percentage points (N=1,009) and ± 3.3 percentage points for the subsample of registered voters (N=882).
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For further information, or to schedule an interview, contact Farnsworth at firstname.lastname@example.org.