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Polls snapshot: Northam holds lead on Gillespie

democrats republicansTwo new polls out Monday give Democrat Ralph Northam a solid lead on Republican Ed Gillespie on the eve of the 2017 Virginia gubernatorial election.

The final poll of the race from Quinnipiac University has Northam with a 51 percent to 42 percent lead on Gillespie. The last look-in from Christopher Newport University has it Northam 51, Gillespie 45.

Significant with the Quinnipiac poll is that the numbers reflect a tightening of the race since last week. An Oct. 30 poll from Quinnipiac had Northam with a 53 percent to 36 percent lead.

“Republican Ed Gillespie is closing Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam’s lead, but Gillespie still has a ways to go and only 24 hours to get there,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.  “A good sign for Gillespie is that in the last two weeks he has cut Lt Gov. Northam’s 14-point lead among independents, the key bloc of voters, to a statistical tie.  But any hopes that the Republicans have for victory will require their candidate to accomplish the Herculean task of making up a deep, 28-point deficit among women.”

The statistical tie among independents in the Quinnipiac poll is actually still a four-point lead for Northam, 46 percent to 42 percent for Gillespie.

The narrowing, though, among that voter base seems noteworthy, though it is also worth noting that observers had been thinking the Quinnipiac numbers might be a statistical outlier, so it may not be the case that the race is tightening based on the closing gap, but rather that the poll is just becoming more reflective of the real situation on the ground.


The Real Clear Politics poll of the most recent 10 polls in the Virginia race gives Northam a 2.8-point lead on Election Eve, 47.3 percent to 44.5 percent, with the results ranging from the nine-point lead for Northam in the Quinnipiac poll to a three-point lead for Gillespie in a poll from the Republican firm The Polling Company.

The CNU poll has been among the more stable this cycle. Northam’s lead has narrowed just one point since the last CNU poll, and this poll gives Northam, the sitting lieutenant governor, a sizable lead over Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chair, among independent voters.

“While each candidate seems to have locked down his base, Northam appears to be winning the appeal to political independents and ideological moderates,” said Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center at Christopher Newport University, citing the finding in the poll that has Northam leading independents by 13 points (51 percent to 38 percent) and moderates by 29 points (62 percent to 33 percent).

“It’s hard to see how Gillespie can make up this deficit when he has consistently trailed Northam among independents by more than 10 points,” said Rachel Bitecofer, assistant director of the Wason Center. “To put it into perspective, in 2013 the Republican nominee led among independents but still ended up losing the election by 2.6 percent.”

Story by Chris Graham