Two candidates gained the most in the latest Virginia gubernatorial poll, published Tuesday by Christopher Newport University.
Progressive candidate Tom Perriello gained 11 percentage points, enough of a gain to tie current Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam for the Democratic nomination at 26 percent each.
Former Chair of the Republican National Committee Ed Gillespie gained on the other side of the aisle, increasing his lead by 5 percentage points to earn 38 percent. Runner-up challenger for the GOP nomination Corey Stewart only earned 11 percent in the poll.
“A Trump effect adds some uncertainty to the Republican contest,” said Rachel Bitecofer, assistant director of the Wason Center. “Gillespie, the establishment favorite, is under-performing among voters who preferred Trump to all those insider Republicans last year. But Stewart and Wagner don’t seem to be picking them up, either.”
Virginia voters largely disapprove of the job that President Donald Trump is doing so far in the White House. Fifty-nine percent of respondents disapprove of Trump, compared to just 37 percent who approve. Similarly, only 37 percent of voters felt the country was headed in the right direction, compared to 50 percent who felt that the state of Virginia was headed in the right path.
Republicans largely control the state Senate and the House of Delegates, and Democrats control the governor’s mansion.
Forty-two percent of those who voted for Trump in the primary remained undecided between Gillespie and Stewart, but 33 percent of Trump voters supported Gillespie.
Gillespie earned the support of 44 percent of Rubio voters, 48 percent of Cruz voters, and 70 percent of Kasich supporters.
The rift on the Democratic side is much more defined. Thirty-four percent of those who voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton supported Northam, and 32 percent of those who voted for Sen. Bernie Sanders support Perriello.
“While we can’t put all our stock in one poll, it’s clear we have the momentum — but we can’t take anything for granted,” Perriello said in a fundraising email about the poll. “We have to keep doing the hard work it’s going to take to bring home a win and make sure Virginia works for everyone.”
“Republicans are unifying behind Ed Gillespie because they know he will be a governor for ALL Virginians,” said Gillespie Campaign Manager Chris Leavitt.
“Ed has laid out a detailed plan to cut taxes for all Virginians, the first step in what will be a sweeping and substantive agenda to get our economy growing again. This policy-oriented leadership, combined with a conservative, optimistic vision, and growing team of grassroots volunteers will propel our campaign to victory in June and a unified Republican ticket to victory in November.”
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