Roanoke College poll: Northam leads Gillespie in Virginia governor's race

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SALEM, Va. - A new Roanoke College poll shows Democratic Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam leading Republican Ed Gillespie.

Northam is leading by six percentage points (50 percent-44 percent), while Libertarian Cliff Hyra garners two percent of likely voters, and only four percent remain undecided, according to the Roanoke College poll.

The Institute for Policy and Opinion Research interviewed 607 likely voters in Virginia between Oct. 8 and Oct. 13 and the poll has a margin of error of +4 percent. 
 
Democrat Justin Fairfax leads Republican Jill Vogel (45 percent-42 percent) in the race for lieutenant governor, and incumbent Democrat Mark Herring leads Republican John Adams (47 percent-42 percent) in Virginia’s attorney general contest. 

Favorability 
 
Both Northam (38 percent-28 percent) and Gillespie (38 percent-33 percent) are viewed more favorably than unfavorably by voters. While 20 percent still don’t know enough about Gillespie to have an opinion about him, and 27 percent don’t know enough about Northam, both figures continue to decline. Cliff Hyra remains largely unknown with 87 percent of respondents not knowing enough about him to have an opinion.

Issues
 
The economy and healthcare continue to dominate as the most important issues in the campaign. Economic issues (jobs, growth, etc.) are seen as most important by 18 percent of respondents with another four percent saying taxes and two percent referencing debt. Health care was named as the most important issue by 16 percent of likely voters, while education was thought to be most important by eight percent and seven percent named immigration. 
 
President Trump and Governor McAuliffe approval ratings 
 
More than half of those polled (58 percent) disapprove of the way President Donald Trump is handling his job, and just over one-third (35 percent) approve, which is statistically unchanged since September. At the same time, a majority (56 percent) of respondents have an unfavorable view of him, while 34 percent have a favorable impression of Trump. 
 
Almost half (48 percent) approve of the job Terry McAuliffe is doing as governor, while 35 percent disapprove. Governor McAuliffe is viewed favorably by 41 percent of respondents.
 
Views of political parties
 
According to the poll, the Republican Party is viewed unfavorably by 47 percent of likely voters (36 percent favorable), while the Democratic Party is seen favorably by 45 percent and unfavorably by 41 percent. 

Methodology
 
Interviewing for The Roanoke College Poll was conducted by The Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia between Oct. 8 and Oct. 13, 2017. A total of 607 likely voters in Virginia were interviewed. Telephone interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. The sample was drawn from a list of registered voters compiled by L2 Political.

Participants were sampled from that list, which has phone numbers associated with approximately 60 percent of the registered voters in Virginia. The list included both landlines and cell-phones. Cell-phones constituted 38 percent of the completed interviews. 

Questions answered by the entire sample of 607 residents are subject to a sampling error of plus or minus approximately 4 percent at the 95 percent level of confidence. This means that in 95 out of 100 samples like the one used here, the results obtained should be no more than 4 percentage points above or below the figure that would be obtained by interviewing all Virginia likely voters who have a home telephone or a cell-phone. Where the results of subgroups are reported, the sampling error is higher. 

Quotas were used to ensure that different regions of the Commonwealth were proportionately represented. The data were statistically weighted for gender, race, age and political party.

Weighting was done to match the 2013 Virginia statewide election exit poll. The margin of error was not adjusted for design effects due to weighting. 

The Roanoke College Poll is funded by Roanoke College as a public service. 

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