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Virginia’s GOP gubernatorial frontrunner lags by double digits against Dems, majority disapprove of Trump

This article originally appeared in RVA Magazine on 5/23/17. An archive is here.


A new Washington Post/George Mason poll shows Virginia’s leading GOP candidate continues to struggle against Democratic opponents as Election Day 2017 draws closer.

Ed Gillespie, a former GOP National Party leader, is the front runner against his two opponents, Confederate Flag-Champion Corey Stewart and businessman Frank Wagner. While Gillespie is way ahead of his competition, he faces double digit losses against either Democratic candidate.

Current Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam beats Gillespie by 11 points, 49-38 with 9 percent unsure and 4 percent unwilling to vote for either candidate.
Against former Congressman (and ambulance smasher) Tom Perriello, Gillespie is down 13 points, 50-37, with a similar portion unsure or unwilling to vote for either candidate.

The poll does appear to lean Democrat, with 34 percent identifying as Dems and 24 percent identifying as Republican, but the 33 percent identifying as independents are what will decide the election and the totals in other questions from the poll seem to show a high level of dissatisfaction with the GOP-controlled Congress and White House.

58 percent oppose steps to roll back Obama’s signature Health Care bill while only 34 percent support it.

And Trump’s popularity continues to lag with 59 percent of voters disapproving of the Commander and chief’s “handling of the job of President.”

These factors and more don’t look great on paper for Gillespie, and Hillary won the state by by over 200,000 votes last year, but after 2016, who knows what polls to believe.

As for the Democratic Primary, the new data shows Perriello at the front of this very close race with Northam, though the two often poll neck and neck with a large margin of undecided voters. Perriello is ahead by only one percentage point in this poll, a similar showing to polls from March of this year.

The Democratic primary race has been particularly interesting as Perriello was endorsed by both Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), two progressive champs who have often pitted themselves against the establishment.

Northam, on the other hand, has racked up endorsements from the state party heavy hitters like Gov. McAuliffe and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.

The poll also reports that Perriello is more popular than Northam with the left wing of the Democratic Party, as well as women and young people. This could also be attributed to Perriello’s support for progressive policies, such as opposing the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley natural gas pipelines. Northam believes the pipelines are inevitable as federal projects, and claims he will work to ensure “property rights, safety and the environment are protected.”

Instead, Perriello favors clean energy solutions, and claims that Northam’s policies will take employment opportunities away from Virginians.

The Commonwealth heads to Primary polls on June 13th.

Words by David Pettyjohn and BK


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