Poll: Democrats have edge in competitive Senate districts

The Virginia House of Delegates met Thursday to discuss redistricting, but didn't get far. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury - Aug. 30, 2018)
The Virginia House of Delegates. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury - Aug. 30, 2018)

Democrats have a 14-point lead over Republicans among likely voters polled in four competitive Senate districts, according to a survey released Monday morning by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University.

Presented with a generic ballot, 51 percent of likely voters said they plan to vote for a Democrat and 37 percent said they plan to vote for a Republican.

The poll of 849 registered voters was conducted Oct. 1 through 20 and has a margin of error of 3.8 percent. It aggregates responses from residents in the Senate’s 7th District (Virginia Beach – Kiggans v. Trupin), 10th District (Chesterfield, Henrico and Richmond – Sturtevant v. Hashmi), 12th District (Henrico – Dunnavant v. Rodman) and 13th District (Loudoun County – Higgins v. Bell).

Among the Wason Center’s findings:

1. Among all voters surveyed in four state Senate districts considered competitive by the partisan outcomes in the 2016 presidential election and 2017 gubernatorial election, Democrats show a 14-point “enthusiasm advantage” over Republicans, 63% to 49%. Among likely voters, the gap narrows to 11 points. However, Republicans are almost as likely to vote as Democrats, with 93% of Democrats reporting they will “definitely vote,” compared to 87% of Republicans.

2. Among likely voters in those districts, Democrats lead Republicans by 14 points on the generic ballot, 51% to 37%. And by 13 points (51% to 38%), those voters prefer that Democrats control the General Assembly after the Nov. 5 election. These advantages increase under our most stringent likely voter model, increasing to 17 points for both questions (53% to 36%).

3. Some of the Democrats’ advantages among likely voters come from Independents, who prefer Democratic candidates for the state Senate by 13 points (45% to 32%) and prefer that Democrats take control of the General Assembly by 9 points (45% to 36%).

4. Asked about the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, 55% of all voters surveyed in these Virginia Senate districts say that opening the impeachment inquiry over his actions involving Ukraine was “the right thing to do.” This includes support from 11% of Republicans, 56% of Independents, and 91% of Democrats. 68% of self-identified “moderates” also agree.

5. Reflecting the nationalized context of these state elections, 59% of voters say they would be less likely to vote for a Virginia Senate candidate who supports President Trump and 54% say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports impeaching Trump.