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Northam leads Gillespie in Virginia governor's race, poll finds

Poll: Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam leads Ed Gillespie 47-39 percent

Left to right: Dr. Ralph Northam and Ed Gillespie
Left to right: Dr. Ralph Northam and Ed Gillespie

RICHMOND, Va.Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam leads Republican Ed Gillespie by 8 percentage points, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released Wednesday.

Northam leads Gillespie 47 percent to 39 percent. The poll found that Northam leads 54-33 percent among women, while Gillespie leads 47-39 percent among men.

"Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam begins the general election as the favorite to become the Old Dominion's next governor. But not an overwhelming one," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

View: June 13 Virginia Primary results

White voters back Gillespie 48-40 percent, while nonwhite voters back Northam 65-20 percent, the poll found.

Gillespie leads 91-4 percent among Republicans while Northam takes Democrats 94-1 percent. The poll also found that Independent voters are divided, with 40 percent for Gillespie and 38 percent for Northam.

Northam gets a 36-24 percent favorability rating, with 39 percent who haven’t heard enough about him to form an opinion of him, the poll found. Gillespie gets a split 29-29 percent favorability rating, with 39 percent who have not heard enough to form an opinion.

Virginia voters say 48-41 percent that they would like to see the Democrats in control of the state Legislature, the poll found.

"The Democrat's margin over Republican Ed Gillespie is a product of national and Virginia factors," Brown said. "Northam is certainly benefiting from the unpopularity of President Donald Trump. He also is getting a bump from his ties to fellow Democrat, Gov. Terry McAuliffe ... Although Northam's lead is just 47-39 percent, other data indicates the difficulty of the job facing Gillespie. Voters have a mixed view of Gillespie. By a 3-2 margin, they see Northam favorably. And voters say they would prefer that the Democrats control the state Legislature."

The poll found that 31 percent of voters say the economy is the most important issue in deciding their vote for governor, while 30 percent list health care, 15 percent list education and 10 percent each list taxes and immigration.

Virginia voters say Gillespie would do a better job handling the economy by a narrow 42-38 percent margin, the poll found.

For a complete look at the rest of the Quinnipiac University Poll's findings, click here.