Home 2017 Races Poll for VA Education Association Finds Northam Leads Perriello 39%-25%

Poll for VA Education Association Finds Northam Leads Perriello 39%-25%


According to a new poll, by Public Policy Polling (PPP) for the Virginia Education Association, Ralph Northam leads Tom Perriello by 14 points (39%-25%). Note that this poll is the first among what it considers to be “likely voters”; all the other polls have been of registered voters, to my knowledge. Personally, I’d be a bit skeptical of any “likely voter” polls at this point, as most Democrats still aren’t paying close attention to this race and the electorate could look significantly different on June 13 than it seems to look now.

Also note that this poll differs significantly from the other polls of this race, two of which had it tied and another with Perriello up 5 points, with the exception of an old CNU poll back in January, which had Northam up 11 points (26%-15%) over Perriello.

Question: given that the Virginia Education Association, which commissioned this poll, has endorsed Ralph Northam in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, could that have had any effect on the results? I’m not sure, but it’s something to consider.

Finally, in other results, the poll finds that:

  • Democratic likely voters are very favorably inclined (77%-5%) towards Terry McAuliffe;
  • Democratic likely voters are very favorably inclined towards both Ralph Northam (47%-11%) and Tom Perriello (44%-12%).
  • By a 77%-11% margin, Democratic likely voters prefer a candidate who “emphasizes the need to get things done in Richmond rather than to “shake things up.”
  • By a 69%-15% margin, Democratic likely voters prefer a candidate “who will lead Virginia in a similar direction as Governor McAuliffe” rather than “a different direction.”
  • Democrats love teachers (83% favorable) and want to raise their pay to the national avarge (93%).
  • A_Siegel

    Polling is hard … polling in potentially disruptive elections, with major emotions roiling, is even harder.

    Looking at the poll report, some quite reactions/thoughts:

    1. What is definition of “likely” voter. I don’t see it in the report — but perhaps it is those who have voted in previous D primaries. This, then, assumes a relatively static voting population when Trump has (it seems) clearly mobilized a far greater propensity for engagement. Could the polls “likely” be excluding a good share of the actual voter pool.
    2. From the respondents, 94% will “definitely” vote in primary. Even w/in “likely”, that seems to be an astonishingly high number. Wonder what a realistic % would be for a primary.
    3. Isn’t Tom’s draw — re progressive, Bernie, etc … — more from non-traditional primary voters than Ralph? If so, that “likely” could exclude a larger share of Perriello than Northam supporters.
    4. Some of the material seems leading (almost ‘push’ poll) like. For example, the question re supporting increased teacher pay: “Virginia teachers are currently paid $7,200 less per year than the national average. Do you support or oppose raising teachers’ salaries in Virginia to the national average to retain and recruit the best teachers for our children?” Anyone else see that this wording creates a bias for “yes” responses?

    E.g., agree that the poll is interesting but … hard to take this one to the bank.

    • 1. Yeah, again, I’d avoid “likely” voters for a while…generally almost impossible to get that right in a primary other than presidential primaries, perhaps.
      2. Might just be their definition of “likely,” but again on that one, see my first point.
      3. Possibly.
      4. Normally, polls try to present “both sides” of a question or they don’t present any side. So in this case, if PPP was going to present the “$7,200 less per year” figure, they should have presented an argument from the side that does NOT want to raise teachers’ salaries in Virginia. Same thing with “to retain and recruit the best teachers for our children.” Whether or not you think that teachers should be paid more (and I do agree), that question’s very “push-poll”-like, you’re right.

      • A_Siegel

        Btw, of course, not many people look into the poll(s), at all, outside ‘pros’. Thus, expect most reporting to simply have “poll shows Northam ahead of Perriello 39-25” or such.

    • splashapace

      These numbers are in line with the internal polling of both campaigns.

      • LHarrisonF

        Since Northam released his internal polling from February showing him up 19%, if this PPP poll consistent with his internal polling it parallels the 5% gain that Perriello has shown in the public polls from Quinnipiac.

        Northam has barely budged from his ceiling at around 39%, Perriello has all the momentum.

        • splashapace

          My point was that they are valid and interesting numbers. I’m not as convinced about the Perriello momentum but we’ll see what starts happening with those undecided 30% soon.