Democratic Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam leading former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie in the race for Governor

A new Emerson College poll in Virginia finds Democratic Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam leading former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie in the race for Governor by a margin of five points, 49% to 44%. Libertarian nominee Cliff Hyra takes 2%. The margin is virtually unchanged from the results of the 2016 Presidential election in the state – Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in the Old Dominion 50% to 44%. The poll, with a sample size of n = 318 and a margin of error of +/- 5.5%, was conducted from October 5 – October 7.

President Trump endorsed the Ed Gillespie on Twitter on Thursday night. Trump has a 42% favorable opinion and 53% unfavorable opinion. The current Democratic Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, is also underwater with regards to favorability, with 39% viewing McAuliffe favorably compared to 41% who view him unfavorably, while 15% have no opinion of the outgoing Governor.

Northam and Gillespie hold similar approval numbers – Northam comes in at 42% favorable/39% unfavorable, while Gillespie scores a 43% favorable/42% unfavorable rating. These numbers are similar to the 2013 race between McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli where both candidates boosted high unfavorable ratings and the focus was to maximize turnout in the Northern part of the Commonwealth for McAuliffe and along the western region for Cuccinelli.

Democrats lead on a generic ballot for the Virginia House of Delegates as well. Statewide, a generic Democratic candidate defeats a generic Republican candidate 48% to 44%. Independents break for the Republican candidate 42% to 38%.

The recent events in Charlottesville continue to be divisive in Virginia. 38% of Virginians approve of President Trump’s response to the events, and 51% disapprove. Governor McAuliffe’s response to the events split the electorate down the middle – 36% approve of his response, while 36% also disapprove, while 22% have no opinion.

A plurality of Virginians, 44%, continue to support keeping Confederate monuments on public property – including 20% of Democrats, 73% of Republicans and 49% of independents. 37% believe that these monuments should be displayed only in museums or exhibits – including 57% of Democrats, 13% of Republicans and 32% of independents. Only 4% of Virginians say the monuments should never be displayed.

The Confederate flag appears to be less popular than the monuments with 30% supporting the display of the Confederate flag on public property, while 50% are opposed. Notably, the public display of the Confederate flag is opposed by 48% of White voters, and supported by 35%. Among African Americans, the Flag is opposed by 66% and supported by 13%.


The Virginia Emerson College poll was conducted October 5th through October 7th, 2017, in both English and Spanish, under the Supervision of Professor Spencer Kimball. The sample consisted of early voters and registered voters who indicated that they are somewhat or very likely to vote, n=318, with a margin of error (MOE) of +/- 5.5 percentage points. The Virginia data was weighted by region and 2016 vote results. It is important to remember that subsets based on gender, age, party breakdown and education carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. Data was collected using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines only.

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