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Virginia Statewide Likely Voter Poll - October, 2013

Executive Summary:

The race for Governor of Virginia remains tight heading into the final week of the campaign according to a tracking survey of 800 likely voters conducted by the Hampton University Center for Public Policy (CPP) poll released today. Democrat Terry McAuliffe holds a six point lead over Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli and Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis in the three-way race for Governor of Virginia.

Without Sarvis in the race, the contest for Governor of Virginia is a statistical dead heat. In the two- way ballot question, McAuliffe has 42 percent. Cuccinelli has 41 percent and 17 percent of likely voters are undecided.

Interesting movement has occurred in the regional breakdowns. McAuliffe now leads in Cuccinelli's home base of Northern Virginia. Sarvis has gained 11 points in the greater Richmond area, and, Cuccinelli has lost one point in the McAuliffe stronghold of the D.C. Suburbs.

The poll was conducted on October 24, and 26-27 and included 800 registered voters who said they were "likely" to vote in the November 5th contest.

The Governor's Race … McAuliffe Leads by Six Points:

Support for McAuliffe remains steady at 42% while Cuccinelli has 36% and Sarvis 12 percent. Ten (10%) percent of likely voters remain undecided. These numbers are similar to a poll conducted by the CPP of 804 likely voters from September 25- September 29, 2013. The September CPP poll had McAuliffe at 42 percent, Cuccinelli at 37 percent and Sarvis at 10 percent.

The CPP tracking poll shows there has been very little voter movement in the overall race with the exception of Robert Sarvis gaining four percentage points and becoming more of a key factor in the race. Sarvis is taking twice as many votes away from Cuccinelli than McAuliffe.

Sarvis supporters favor Cuccinelli as their "second choice" by almost a two to one margin. When asked, 43% of Sarvis supporters say they would vote for Cuccinelli if Sarvis were not in the race. Twenty-four (24%) say they would vote for McAuliffe if Sarvis were not in the race and 33% say they don't know for whom they would vote.

Sarvis is demonstrating the ability to connect across the board with Independents, Democrats and Republicans. Sixty-four (64%) of Sarvis supporters are Independents, 22% are Democrats and 14% are Republicans. Sarvis has gained 5 points among Independent voters since the September CPP poll.

Candidate Favorability:

Both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli have high unfavorable ratings. Overall, McAuliffe has a 40% favorable rating and a 40% unfavorable rating. Twenty percent (20%) of likely voters do not know enough about McAuliffe to rate him. McAuliffe's favorable rating is up by 9 points and his unfavorable rating is up by three points since the last CPP poll.

Cuccinelli has a 36% favorable rating and a 50% unfavorable rating. Fourteen percent (14%) of likely voters do not know enough about Cuccinelli to rate him. Cuccinelli's favorable rating is up by 3 points and his unfavorable rating is up by 3 points since the last CPP poll.

Favorable/Unfavorable Ratings in the Virginia Governor's Race
CHART I

Chart I -  Favorable/Unfavorable Ratings in the Virginia Governor's Race

The Lieutenant Governor's Race:

Democratic candidate Ralph Northam built his lead to 6 points in the latest poll. Northam is now leading with 43% to Republican candidate E.W. Jackson's 37 percent. In the September CPP poll, E.W. Jackson led Ralph Northam by 39 to 38 percent.

Neither candidate is very well known; however, both figures show an uptick in this poll. Northam has a favorable rating of 19% and an unfavorable rating of 13 percent. Jackson currently receives an 18% favorable rating and a 23% unfavorable rating. In the September CPP poll, Northam had a favorable rating of 14% and an unfavorable rating of 6 percent. Jackson had a favorable rating of 17% and an unfavorable rating of 18% in the last CPP poll.

The Attorney General's Race:

The Attorney General's race is the only contest of the top three Virginia races where Republicans have a lead. In this poll, Republican Mark Obenshain has 45% voter support and Democrat Mark Herring has 39 percent. In the September CPP poll, Obenshain had 41% voter support and Herring had 37 percent.

Both favorable and unfavorable opinions of each Attorney General candidate have increased. A month ago, Obenshain had a favorable rating of 20% and an unfavorable rating of 9 percent. Now Obenshain has a favorable rating of 33% and an unfavorable rating of 24 percent. In the last CPP poll, Herring had a favorable rating of 14% and an unfavorable rating of 6 percent. Now Herring has a favorable rating of 19% and an unfavorable rating of 18% among likely voters.

Regional Breakdown:

McAuliffe continues to lead in the voter rich Washington D.C. suburbs. McAuliffe has 48% in this region, while Cuccinelli has 34% and Sarvis has 12% support. These data are comparable with the September CPP poll where McAuliffe had 50% support to Cuccinelli's 29 percent. Sarvis had 9% one month ago and 12% of the respondents were undecided. The Washington D.C. suburbs will account for 25 percent of the overall vote and is McAuliffe's home base.

There is statistically significant voter movement in the Northern Virginia exurbs, Cuccinelli's home base. Now, McAuliffe has 42%, Cuccinelli has 37% and Sarvis has 8 percent. In the September CPP poll, Cuccinelli had 45 percent, McAuliffe 33 percent and Sarvis 8 percent.

The ballot is narrow in the greater Richmond area, as Cuccinelli receives 34%, McAuliffe has 34% and Sarvis has 20% support from likely voters. The Richmond area is showing the most significant change for Sarvis who gained 11 points in just one month. In the September poll, McAuliffe had 43 percent, Cuccinelli had 35 percent and Sarvis had 9 percent.

The race remains tight in Central Virginia and the candidates have reversed positions from the September poll. McAuliffe now leads with 45%, Cuccinelli has 38% and Sarvis has 12% support. In the September CPP poll, Cuccinelli had the lead with 51 percent, McAuliffe had 37 percent support and Sarvis had 4 percent support.

In the Hampton Roads/Tidewater area, the ballot is mostly status quo. McAuliffe has 52%, Cuccinelli has 31% and Sarvis has 5% support. In the last CPP poll, McAuliffe had 49 percent, Cuccinelli has 30 percent and Sarvis has 8 percent support from likely voters.

In Southwestern Virginia, the numbers are virtually unchanged. Cuccinelli has 46%, McAuliffe has 30% and Sarvis has 13% support from likely voters we polled. Last month's CPP poll had Cuccinelli at 48 percent, McAuliffe had 31 percent and Sarvis had 9 percent.

Finally, in Southeastern Virginia, McAuliffe has a secure lead with 49% support from likely voters. Cuccinelli has 37% and Sarvis has 5 percent. The September CPP poll had McAuliffe with 46 percent, Cuccinelli had 37 percent and Sarvis had 8 percent.

Voter Support in the Governor's Race By Region
CHART II

Chart II -  Voter Support in the Governor's Race By Region

Race and Gender:

Race and gender remain critical factors in the race. Cuccinelli has a lead among white voters but by a much smaller margin than McAuliffe's huge advantage among blacks. Among white voters, Cuccinelli has 42 percent voter support, McAuliffe has 35 percent and Sarvis has 13 percent. Ten percent of white voters remain undecided.

Black voters are making a critical difference in the race and are helping the McAuliffe candidacy. Among black voters, McAuliffe has 68 percent voter support, Cuccinelli has 18 percent and Sarvis has 7 percent. Seven (7%) percent of black voters remain undecided.

There is a gender gap as McAuliffe holds a significant lead among women and Cuccinelli leads among men. Among women, McAuliffe has 47 percent voter support, Cuccinelli has 33 percent and Sarvis has10 percent. Nine (9%) percent of women remain undecided. Among men, Cuccinelli has 40 percent, McAuliffe has 37 percent and Sarvis has14 percent. Ten (10%) percent of men remain undecided.

Race and The Governor's Race
CHART III

Chart II -  Race and The Governor's Race

Likely Voters Support Term Limits:

More than three-fourths of likely voters in Virginia support term limits for Members of Congress including both the House and Senate. An overwhelming 76% say they support federal term limits, 16% are against term limits and 8% "don't know" or were not sure.

Men and women are equally likely to back term limits. Among women, 76% say they support federal term limits, 14% are against term limits and 10% "don't know." Among men, 76% say they support federal term limits, 18% are against term limits and 6% "don't know."

Likely Voters Spread the Blame for Federal Government Shutdown:

Virginia voters blame "both" parties for the government shutdown (45%) than either the Republicans (33%) or Democrats (19%) in the United States Congress.

Among likely voters who blame the Republicans for the shutdown, McAuliffe has 82 percent and Sarvis has 8 percent and Cuccinelli has 5 percent. Five (5%) percent of likely voters remain undecided. Among likely voters who blame the Democrats for the shutdown, Cuccinelli has 84% , Sarvis has 8% and McAuliffe has 2 percent. Four (4%) percent of these voters remain undecided.

Partisanship:

Among voters who self-identify as "Democrats" McAuliffe has 85 percent, Sarvis has 5 percent and Cuccinelli has 6 percent. In the September CPP poll, among Democrats, McAuliffe had 83 percent, Sarvis had 5 percent and Cuccinelli had 4 percent.

Among voters who say they are "Republicans" Cuccinelli has 76 percent, McAuliffe has 7 percent and Sarvis has 11 percent. In the September CPP poll among Republicans, Cuccinelli had 78 percent, McAuliffe had 9 percent and Sarvis had 5 percent.

Voters who say they are "Independents," seem to be more supportive of the Democratic nominee. Among self-identified independents, McAuliffe has 34 percent, Cuccinelli has 30 percent and Sarvis has 20 percent. In the September CPP poll, among Independents, Cuccinelli had 33 percent, McAullife had 33 percent and Sarvis had 15 percent.

The Virginia electorate of likely voters is evenly split among the two major parties and Independents. Democrats accounted for 35 percent of likely voters in our sample, Independents for 32 percent and Republicans for 33 percent.

Methodology:

The statewide survey was conducted by a professional call center for the Center for Public Policy at Hampton University under the general direction of Kelly Harvey Gill, JD. Live interviews were conducted via telephone (20% cell phone and 80% land line) on October 24, and 26-27, 2013. Interviews were stratified by counties and cities to reflect historic voter trends. This survey was conducted using a listed sample purchased from SSI, Inc, (Survey Sampling International). Weighting techniques were used to achieve representative age groupings. The overall margin of error for the entire sample of 800 likely voters is +/- 2.9% at a 95 percent confidence interval. The margin of error for subgroups like geographic regions is higher.

Geographic breakdowns by region are as follows: 25% Washington D.C. suburbs; 10% Northern Virginia exurbs; 18% Richmond area; 6% Central Virginia; 17% Hampton Roads/Tidewater; 5% Southeast; and 19% Southwest.

Ronald Lester of Lester and Associates (Democratic pollster) and Kellyanne Conway of the Polling Company (Republican Pollster) served as technical consultants in the design and analysis of the survey.