Home 2021 Elections How Did the Pre-Virginia GOP-Convention Polls and Prognosticators Do? (Hint: Not Great...

How Did the Pre-Virginia GOP-Convention Polls and Prognosticators Do? (Hint: Not Great For the Most Part)

For instance, basically nobody (other than Joe Szymanski) saw Winsome Sears' victory, or Chuck Smith doing as well as he did. Nice job by Matt Colt Hall!


The Virginia Republican nomination process is over, and the candidates selected. How did polling and prognostications leading up to the VA GOP’s “unassembled convention” do? For comparison purposes, the final results were: Glenn Youngkin 33.8%-Pete Snyder 25.6%-Amanda Chase 19.3%-Kirk Cox 13.9%-Sergio de la Pena 6.6%-Peter Doran 0.4%-Octavia Johnson 0.3%.

  • Change Research poll (5/5-5/6): Amanda Chase 29%-Glenn Youngkin 25%-Pete Snyder 13%-Kirk Cox 7% (*Badly* missed the winner, but at least had Youngkin in contention for the top spot.)
  • Public Policy Polling poll (April): Amanda Chase 22%-Glenn Youngkin 21%-Pete Snyder 16%-Kirk Cox 7% (Also missed the winner, but at least had Youngkin essentially tied for the lead…)
  • Trafalgar Group poll (4/29-5/4): Glenn Youngkin 37.7%-Pete Snyder 26.2%-Kirk Cox 10.1%-Amanda Chase 9.5%  (Nice job – it nailed Youngkin and Snyder’s order of finish and their percentages – the biggest problem being that it reversed Chase and Cox. Note that this was a poll of convention delegates, while the other polls were of a Republican “primary” electorate, which is not the same thing.)
  • There was also this survey, by “The Republican Standard,” which found on April 1 that Kirk Cox was “the official frontrunner in the Virginia GOP gubernatorial contest — and not by small margins,” with Pete Snyder second (at 31%), Glenn Youngkin third (at 14%) and Amanda Chase fourth (at 10%). Obviously, this was not what ended up happening – at all. Also, another survey by “The Republican Standard” on May 7 found Kirk Cox leading Glenn Youngkin 26%-24%, with Pete Snyder at 23% and Amanda Chase at 18%. Which, again, is not at all what ended up happening…
  • Just before Virginia GOP voting began this past Saturday, PredictIt stood as follows: Glenn Youngkin 56 cents-Pete Snyder 37 cents-Kirk Cox 12 cents-Amanda Chase 10 cents. Which basically nailed it on the first two, although it reversed Cox and Chase for third and fourth.
  • One week out from the convention, former Del. David Ramadan (R) projected that Glenn Youngkin was “not catching wind with people” and would not “get more than 10% of the vote,” with Pete Snyder as “top-two frontrunner status,” that Amanda Chase would “probably be the top candidate on the first ballot,” and that “there’s no way [Kirk Cox] can win.” So…correct on Pete Snyder being in the top two, also correct that Kirk Cox wouldn’t  win, but badly wrong on Glenn Youngkin, who in fact WAS “catching with people” and got FAR more than “10% of the vote.”
  • Also one week out from the convention, Republican operative Matt Colt Hall said he thought neither Kirk Cox nor Amanda Chase has a chance, but that Glenn Youngkin was “definitely a contender, I think he’ll get definitely more than 10%, personally I think it’s a two-person race between Snyder and Youngkin.” Yep, Matt Colt Hall totally nailed it – nice job!
  • One week out from the convention, Democratic consultant Ben Tribbett predicted Kirk Cox in third or fourth place (correct), and didn’t seem particularly impressed with Glenn Youngkin (calling him a “nothingburger”), although he didn’t predict where Youngkin would finish. So…hard to judge Tribbett’s predictions.
  • A few days out from the convention, former Del. Chris Saxman said that “The Republican nomination for governor is still up in the air between the four main candidates Amanda Chase, Kirk Cox, Pete Snyder, and Glenn Youngkin”; and that Amanda Chase “do well on the first ballot, but it’s hard to see her doing well down ballot.” Which wasn’t really what ended up happening…
  • About a week out from the convention, political analyst Chaz Nuttycombe rated the races as “Lean Snyder” for governor, “Tilt Davis” for Lt. Governor and “Solid Miyares” for Attorney General. Chaz added that “LG race could still definitely have Davis (R-Va Beach) lose to Hugo or Sears (R-Norfolk),” and that “I wouldn’t be surprised if Snyder or Davis didn’t win their nominations. Especially Davis.” In the end, Snyder finished second, behind Glenn Youngkin, for governor; Glenn Davis finished third, behind Winsome Sears and Tim Hugo, for LG; and Jason Miyares *barely* defeated Chuck Smith for AG.
  • For LG, one week out from the convention, Ben Tribbett predicted that former Del. Tim Hugo would be the nominee, adding that Glenn Davis was not a “serious candidate” and with no comment (other than a laugh) about Winsome Sears. In the end, Sears won the nomination over Hugo, with Davis third.
  • One month out, on the Transition VA podcast, former Del. David Ramadan thought that former Del. Tim Hugo’s message would resonate at the VA GOP convention and that he was the “frontrunner.” Except…nope, he lost to Winsome Sears. As for Glenn Davis’ campaign, which ended up finishing third, Ramadan said that Davis was a “hail Mary” candidate. On Winsome Sears’ campaign, Ramadan said “she doesn’t have the name recognition” and that “there’s not really room for minorities in today’s Republican Party” so she’s an “uphill candidate with a very slim chance of success.” Except…nope, Sears won, fairly easily at that.
  • For AG, one week out from the convention, Ben Tribbett predicted it would be Jason Miyares. And basically everyone other Virginia political pundit thought Miyares would win easily (although former Del. Chris Saxman wondered, a few days out, if “Smith must be in better position than most think.” – bingo!). In the end, Miyares *very* narrowly defeated Chuck Smith, in a nail-biter, for the nomination.

Any others I should have included here?

UPDATE: On April 30, Joe Szymanski predicted that “The AG race is by far the most boring: Miyares has united enough of the wings of the party to be coasting to the nomination. LG race will be interesting; Sears has kinda come outta nowhere. Snyder is favored, but I’m not sleeping on Youngkin… or Cox.” In the end, the AG race wasn’t boring at all, although Miyares did end up barely hanging on. As for the LG race, very astute observation by Szymanski that “Sears has kinda come outta nowhere.” And on the governor’s race, Szymanski was right not to “sleep” on Youngkin, but Cox on the other hand – not so much.



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