Virginia Race Tied

By John Celock

A new poll shows that the Virginia governor’s race is tied and President Trump may be a factor in the race.

A Monmouth University Poll released Monday shows that the race between Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie is tied at 44 percent with three percent siding with Libertarian Cliff Hyra. The poll showed that 26 percent said that Trump is a factor in the race, but more Northam supporters indicated they would be undecided if Trump was not a factor in the face.

Ninety nine percent of Gillespie voters said they’d stay with the Republican if Trump was not a factor, while 88 percent of Northam voters said that they would stay with the Democrat. The poll also showed that less than one percent of Northam supporters approve of Trump’s job performance while 96 percent disapprove of Trump. Seventy eight percent of Gillespie supporters approve of Trump while 18 percent disapprove.

Northam maintains a 50 percent to 37 percent lead in Democratic-leaning Northern Virginia, Northam maintains a 50 percent to 41 percent lead in the eastern part of Virginia, where he was a longtime state senator. Gillespie has a 43 percent to 41 percent lead in the central part of the state, and Gillespie leads in the Republican heavy western part of the commonwealth by 52 percent to 34 percent for Northam.

Northern Virginia will likely decide the gubernatorial battle. Gillespie hails from suburban Fairfax County and Northern Virginia helped Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) secure a narrow victory four years ago and handed Sen. Mark Warner (D) a victory over Gillespie in the 2014 Senate contest. Arlington County and the cities of Falls Church and Alexandria tend to go heavily for Democratic candidates in statewide races, while Loudon County tends to lean Republican. Fairfax County, long a Republican bastion, has become a key swing county in statewide battles.

The race between Northam and Gillespie has become the most watched gubernatorial race in the country. The nation’s only other gubernatorial race this year, in New Jersey, has seen Democrat Phil Murphy open up a large lead over Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. Northam, a one-term lieutenant governor, has been embraced by the Democratic establishment and positioned to succeed McAuliffe since the two were elected four years ago. He defeated former U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello in the primary. On the Republican side, Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman, has been seeking the governor’s mansion since his Senate loss, but narrowly captured the GOP nomination in a multi-candidate June primary.

Gillespie is trying to replicate McAuliffe’s path from Washington power broker to the governor’s mansion. McAuliffe had lost a 2009 gubernatorial race before winning the governorship four years later. Both McAuliffe and Gillespie had long been known for their work in national political circles and not in Virginia. Gillespie had chaired the state GOP following his RNC stint as he looked to position himself to make a statewide run.

The Virginia governor’s race has long been viewed as a referendum on the previous year’s presidential race with the gubernatorial winner traditionally being from the opposite party of the president. McAuliffe’s 2013 victory, a year after Barack Obama won a second term as president, was a rare victory by the party of the incumbent president in a Virginia gubernatorial contest. McAuliffe’s victory was based largely on Northern Virginia not embracing Republican Ken Cuccinelli, a conservative, in that race.