Trump, Confederate statues factors in gubernatorial race

Ed Gillespie and Ralph Northam

Ed Gillespie and Ralph Northam

A new survey shows that President Donald Trump's low popularity among Virginia voters and the issue of Confederate statues may influence the governor's race.

The Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport has released a second survey on Tuesday on the possible challenges of the Virginia governor's race between Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam.

Northam voters have a 96 percent disapproval rating for Trump, while more than half say Trump is a factor in their vote.

It was the latest in a series of polls to find Northam with a slight lead or in dead heat with Gillespie ahead of the November 7 contest.

Northam has strong support in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. Gillespie had a slight edge among voters in the rural south and southwest Virginia, and an eight-point lead in the Richmond-central-Virginia area. "Each has the overwhelming support of his party's base, and they split independents (38% to 38%)". Most polls have shown a close race in the swing state, where Democrats have won every statewide election since 2009. Republicans do so badly in populous Northern Virginia counties that there just aren't enough votes elsewhere to make up the difference, especially because Republicans do so poorly with women and nonwhites. Gillespie has a 7-point advantage among men. Sixty-two percent of Northam voters support removal, while 86 percent of Gillespie voters oppose it.

Perhaps if Republicans want to win, they should stop running the same race over and over again.

In Maryland, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan remains popular with voters statewide and - more than a year before the 2018 gubernatorial election - a majority of registered voters are backing him.

Hogan's situation is instructive.

Overall, 62 percent of Marylanders said they approve of the job Hogan is doing as governor. Fifty-nine percent of Democrats approve of his work.

That Donald Trump problem? In other words, Hogan goes for the middle, not the fringe, in his party.

The "Trump Effect" is more pronounced among Northam voters, who are much more likely to disapprove of the president and to say their vote is meant to send a message to Trump and congressional Republicans.

But Republicans will say, "Virginia isn't Maryland!"

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