With exactly three weeks to go until Election Day in Virginia’s 2017 gubernatorial election, Republican Ed Gillespie continues to gain momentum, surging to a lead in the latest public poll. A new survey by Monmouth University shows Gillespie now leading Democrat Ralph Northam 48-47, a 6 point swing from Monmouth’s last poll in September that showed Northam leading 49-44. The poll also shows that voters prefer Gillespie’s handling of issues such as crime and the economy by double-digit margins over Northam. While Democrats show clear signs of panic for Northam’s lackluster campaign, Gillespie’s energetic, issue-oriented campaign continues to gain clear momentum as the race enters its final weeks.
Monmouth University reports:
“The campaign for governor of Virginia remains up for grabs, with Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam locked in a one point race. The Monmouth University Poll finds the race becoming more regionally divided…
Currently, 48% of likely voters support Gillespie, the former national GOP party leader, and 47% support Northam, the Commonwealth’s current lieutenant governor. Libertarian Cliff Hyra gets 3% of the vote and 3% are undecided. Last month, Northam had a 49% to 44% edge over Gillespie while the race was tied at 44% each in July.
…Gillespie, on the other hand, has built up his lead in the conservative western part of the Commonwealth, now with a 64% to 31% lead over Northam there compared with a 50% to 43% edge last month. Eastern Virginia – Northam’s home region which backed Democrats in recent elections for governor and U.S. Senate – has become more competitive, now split at 48% for the Republican and 45% for the Democrat, whereas Northam had a 49%-40% lead in September. Central Virginia – which tends to be a swing region – remains tight at 47% for Gillespie and 44% for Northam, which is similar to September’s close margin of 49% Northam and 48% Gillespie.
The poll found the Republican nominee has gained ground on some key campaign issues, particularly in conservative and swing areas of the state. Among all Virginia voters, Gillespie is preferred over Northam on handling jobs and the economy by a 41% to 29% margin, which is slightly better than his 38% to 33% edge on thisconcern in September. In particular, Gillespie now has a 43% to 24% advantage on the jobs issue in Eastern Virginia, reversing a 31% to 37% deficit there last month.
Gillespie also maintains his advantage on handling crime – 40% of Virginia voters prefer the Republican and 24% choose the Democrat. Gillespie had a 35%-27% edge on this issue in September. He has enjoyed big gains on this concern in Western Virginia, where he now holds a 55% to 13% advantage over Northam. Last month, Gillespie had a smaller 41%-26% advantage on the crime issue in this region.“