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Most Virginia Voters Undecided Months Before Gubernatorial Nominations

Early Voting in Richmond
Voters in the Richmond area head to the polls early for the 2020 General Election. (Photo: Crixell Matthews / VPM News)

A new poll from Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center for Civic Leadership asked over a thousand Virginia voters who they’d support to be their party’s nominee for governor this year. Most remain undecided.

Terry McAuliffe leads the Democratic pack with 26% of blue voters saying they’d choose him if polls opened today. 

Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax comes in second with 12%, while former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy and Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) each sit at 4%.

The Wason Center poll puts Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) in the lead among expected Republican voters, with almost twice as much interest as Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights). Political outsider Pete Snyder has the support of 6% of Republicans surveyed.

However, about half of voters from either party haven’t made any decisions yet, meaning much could change, and Republicans are still deciding how they should choose their nominee.

No candidate for Lieutenant Governor has more than single-digit support from voters in their party. Del. Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach) leads the Republicans in that field with 8% - no Democrat sits above 2%.

Incumbent Mark Herring leads Del. Jay Jones (D-Norfolk), his nearest Democratic competitor, by almost 40 points in the race for Attorney General candidacy.

The poll also asked voters how they approve the work done by Gov. Ralph Northam. Of Democrats, 83%, while 79% of Republicans did not - highlighting the commonwealth’s partisan divide.

Because it’s uncertain how Republicans will choose their nominee, pollsters at the Wason Center made a slight deviation from their normal practices. In most surveys, they’d contact likely voters - in this case, usually voters who’ve participated in recent primaries.

For this round of polling, however, they contacted registered voters as a whole. That’s a different sample group. Virginia historically has low turnout in gubernatorial primaries - in 2017, only about 17% of registered voters turned out.

Patrick Larsen is VPM News' environment and energy reporter, and fill-in host.
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