Home 2017 Races WaPo-Schar School Poll: Northam 53%-Gillespie 40%; Herring 52%-Adams 41%

WaPo-Schar School Poll: Northam 53%-Gillespie 40%; Herring 52%-Adams 41%


Is this new poll by the Washington Post and the Schar School of Policy and Government at GMU accurate? An outlier from all the other polls showing a close race? I don’t know, although I lean towards “outlier” while hoping it isn’t. With that here are the highlights.

P.S. I agree 100% with Larry Sabato, who tweets: “New WaPo poll on VA GOV has Northam over Gillespie by 53-40 (likely voters). Much bigger than recent private D polls. Skepticism warranted…In 2013 WaPo poll had McAuliffe up 12 toward the end of fall campaign. He won by ~2.5%…Spring GOV primaries 2017: WaPo-Schar had Perriello up 2 and Gillespie up 20. Northam beat Perriello by 12 and Gillespie won by just 1%.”

  • The top-line numbers are Ralph Northam 53%-Ed Gillespie 40%-Cliff Hyra 4% among likely Virginia voters. If Northam were to win by 13 points, we’re talking about major gains in the House of Delegates as well.
  • Among whites, it’s Gillespie 51%-Northam 41%; among non-whites, it’s Northam 80%-Gillespie 13%. Among men, it’s Northam 48%-Gillespie 43%; among women, it’s Northam with a huge, 58%-37% lead.
  • In the D.C. suburbs, Northam is kicking butt at 61%-35%. In the Northern Virginia “exurbs,” Northam also is leading big, at 55%-33%. Northam leads by 56%-40% in the Richmond area and by 58%-36% in Tidewater.  Which leaves one area, Southwest Virginia, where Gillespie leads, by a 53%-37% margin.
  • For Attorney General, Democrat/incumbent Mark Herring holds a 52%-41% lead over Republican John Adams.
  • Only 33% of Virginia voters approve of the job Trump’s doing, while 59% disapprove. The question is, who are these 33% and how many hours of Fox do they watch every day? LOL
  • Voters hold a 44%-28% net favorable view of Ralph Northam and a 38%-24% net favorable view of Ed Gillespie.
  • As usual, the most important issues in voters’ minds are health care and the economy, followed by education, illegal immigration, the environment and Confederate monuments (at just 3%).
  • By a 55%-37% margin, Virginia voters oppose “banning all abortions except in the cases of incest, rape or to save a pregnant woman’s life.”
  • By a 57%-31% margin, Virginia voters support keeping Confederate monuments on government property.
  • By a 59%-35% margin, Virginia voters do NOT believe that illegal immigration is a problem in their part of the state. Only 14% believe it’s a “very serious” problem.”
  • 54% of voters say Trump will not be a factor in their vote for Virginia governor, with 28% saying their vote will in part be to express opposition to Trump and 17% to express support for Trump.
  • By a 56%-17% margin, voters believe that Ed Gillespie supports Trump a “great deal” (23%) or “good amount” (33%).
  • woodrowfan

    “Which leaves one area, Southwest Virginia, where Gillespie leads, by a 53%-37% margin.”

    As a longtime resident of the northern tip of the state I’m trying hard not to make sarcastic remarks about the SW part. Something about their constantly shooting themselves in the foot.

    • Shawn B

      As a life-time resident of SWVA I will say that is it best to keep your sarcastic comments to yourself. Yes, we are red in the “State of Franklin” region, but there are plenty of good strong progressives out there making a difference everyday.

  • I’m somewhat surprised of these two stats (believing the rest of the poll asked the same people the same questions):

    By a 55%-37% margin, Virginia voters oppose “banning all abortions except in the cases of incest, rape or to save a pregnant woman’s life.”

    By a 57%-31% margin, Virginia voters support keeping Confederate monuments on government property.

    I’d be interested in knowing how these responses were broken down as well. And there is nothing about the Lt. Governor’s race. Is that because those that vote on one side of the ticket for Governor will generally stay there for their Lt or is there something more concerning?

    • No idea why they left out the LG race…seems stupid to me, also makes me have less confidence in this poll. As for how the responses were broken down to those questions, it’s all in here (https://www.washingtonpost.com/page/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2017/10/05/National-Politics/Polling/release_495.xml?tid=a_inl)

      • For instance, on the Confederate monuments, Dems support removing them by a 53%-34% margin, while Republicans support keeping them by an 86%-8% margin.

        • On abortion, Dems oppose banning it except in the cases of incest/rape/save a pregnant woman’s life by a 72%-22% margin. Republicans support banning it by a 56%-35% margin.

        • woodrowfan

          so the republican position is “Democrats are the real racists because of their history in the south–awful, horrible racist people, so awful no African-American should ever vote for a Democrat, ever. Oh, and we want to leave statues to these same people up all over the country because they were great men!”

  • A_Siegel

    So, it does seem that this poll is an outlier in terms of size of lead … while we might hope it is right, is an outlier … The key point it seems is that this is in the ball park of where it should be: looking at elections across the nation and Viriginia’s political make-up, generic D should be ballpark 15-17% (from what more expert people have concluded) ahead.

    Reading the Washington Post on this, the lack of enthusiasm is telling. While the D voters have more likely, it isn’t that extreme considering how Democratic candidates, across the nation, are seeing impassioned voters, flocking the polls, to turn the tide on Donald Trump …

    Flippable … why aren’t we seeing the same passion in the Commonwealth?

    Is it, perhaps, because Ralph Northam has ‘flipped’ from accurately describing (with his medical credentials in mind) Donald Trump as a “narcissistic maniac’ (http://bluevirginia.us/2017/08/ralph-northam-should-speak-up-about-narcissistic-maniac-donald-trump ) to now advertising that he will work with Trump when it is in Virginia’s interest even as he has in past and will (unlike Gillespie) resist him when he is wrong?

    Re that ready to work with Trump, look around the nation, has Team Trump shown any indication of being prepared to work with Democratic Governors? Great example: the newly set up Interior royalty panel with zero representation from D governed states at the highest level: https://www.americanprogress.org/press/release/2017/10/03/440181/fox-guards-henhouse-corporate-led-committee-advises-interior-department-royalties-new-cap-column-says/

    In any event, if this isn’t an outlier, perhaps Northam will have a Democratic House of Delegates to work with …


      For some reason, some people like hearing their political leaders say they are willing to work across the aisle. That strategy didn’t work that well for Warner, who down played outreach to the Democratic base and went on a bipartisan tour with John Warner. I think Ralph needs to emphasize the role he can play as governor in minimizing the damage Trump will do. That will push turn out up in NOVA, which is key.

  • Esther Ferington

    Only way to tell in the short term whether it’s an outlier or accurately reflects the state of the electorate is to see a few more polls. Only thing to do, either way, is to keep volunteering. There’s no need to see more polls to do that.

  • Perseus1986

    I predict Northam will win fairly comfortably (5 point range), not JUST because that’s what I want, but also because he has a track record of turning out the vote. He received a much larger margin of victory than McAuliffe in 2013 and soundly thumped Perriello when people were predicting a close race. The NoVa vote will be consistently in favor of Democrats as in past races but in significantly lower volume than the presidential election (with a possible exception of PWC as local delegate races are close there and receiving a lot of funding). However, it seems that Northam is able to draw on stronger roots in southern VA than other statewide Democratic candidates have in the recent past, and this will likely shut down Gillespie.

    • Given that Obama and Clinton won the state three times, by an average of…yep, 5 points…that’s a totally reasonable prediction.

  • Kenneth Ferland

    The male support for Northam and the low approval of Trump seems to be the source of the discrepancy with other polls. It could be how they put their likely voter model together. If this poll were reflecting a true phenomenon on the ground it will be confirmed by other polls well in advance of the election.