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A Survey of 500 Likely Voters - Virginia, Statewide - February, 2016

Executive Summary

Ahead of Super Tuesday in the Commonwealth of Virginia, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders would beat Republican front runner Donald Trump in a head-to-head matchup if chosen as the Democratic nominee for President, according to a Hampton University poll released today. The only Republican contender that beats both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is Ohio Governor John Kasich who wins by one point over both Democratic hopefuls.

Nearly half of all Virginians surveyed want the next President of the United States to make the economy and job creation a top priority. More than half give Donald Trump the lowest favorability rating among all candidates. Plus, Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders (60%) is considered significantly more trustworthy than Hillary Clinton (42%), though their favorability ratings are not widely different (40% vs. 44%).

The poll was conducted by the Hampton University Center for Public Policy (CPP) from February 18-22, 2016 and included 500 registered voters who said they were "likely" to vote on November 8, 2016 in the Virginia General Election.

Head-to-Head Matchups

With the Presidential primary season in full swing, Virginia is once again shaping up to be a key state in deciding who will be the next President of the United States.

Republican hopeful and Ohio Governor John Kasich (45%) beats Hillary Clinton (44%) by one point in a head-to-head matchup according to the results of the CPP survey. Against Bernie Sanders (43%), Kasich (44%) also wins by one point.

When asked if the election for President were held today, in a head-to-head matchup between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, Virginians chose Clinton (48%) over Trump (39%) by 11 points. It was a similar outcome for the match-up between Sanders (48%) and Trump (39%).

Suppose the election for President were held today, and the candidates were... For whom would you vote?

Hillary Clinton (D) 48%
Donald Trump (R) 39%
Other 7.2%
DK/Refused 6%
Bernie Sanders (D) 48%
Donald Trump (R) 39%
Other 5.4%
DK/Refused 7.4%

There is only a five point lead for Clinton (48%) if she were to go against Republican Ted Cruz (43%) in the general election in November, and a mere three point lead if Bernie Sanders (46%) faced off with Cruz (43%).

Hillary Clinton (D) 48%
Ted Cruz (R) 43%
Other 3.8%
DK/Refused 4.4%
Bernie Sanders (D) 46%
Ted Cruz (R) 43%
Other 4%
DK/Refused 7%

The gap between GOP hopeful Marco Rubio and both Democratic hopefuls is narrow as well. When facing off with Democrat Bernie Sanders, Rubio garnered 44% to Sanders 46% of the vote. Against Democrat Hillary Clinton's 48%, Rubio captured 45% support.

Hillary Clinton (D) 48%
Marco Rubio (R) 45%
Other 3%
DK/Refused 4%
Bernie Sanders (D) 46%
Marco Rubio (R) 44%
Other 2.8%
DK/Refused 7.8%

While he trails in the race for President, Republican Ben Carson (44%) trails Hillary Clinton (49%) by only 5 points. In a matchup against Bernie Sanders, Carson (43%) fairs similarly against Sanders (47%) trailing by 4 points.

Although Republican hopeful Jeb Bush made the decision to suspend his campaign for the presidency on day three of the CPP survey, we continued to ask respondents their opinions about a head-to-head matchup between Bush and both Democratic hopefuls. The CPP wanted to measure how Bush would have fared had he continued in the race. Virginians support Clinton (45%) over Bush (44%), and, Sanders (45%) over Bush (44%) by the narrow margin of one point, respectively.

Important Issues

Among the important issues facing the country, 48% of the likely voters surveyed by the CPP in Virginia want the next President to prioritize the economy and creating jobs.

When asked what should be the top priority of the next President, terrorism was the second choice with 17% and healthcare was third with 15% support. The size of government (9%) and immigration (8%) rounded off the bottom of the list with 4% responding "Don't Know/Refused" in answering the question.

Q4. Please tell me which one issue on this list should be the top priority of the next President of the United States, no matter who it is.
Working to improve the Economy and create jobs 47.8%
Terrorism 17%
Healthcare 15%
Size of Government 8.8%
Immigration 7.6%
Don't Know/Refused 3.8%

Favorable/Unfavorable Ratings

Respondents were asked if they had a "very favorable, favorable, unfavorable, or very unfavorable opinion" of all of the candidates. The majority of Virginians have an unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump. In fact, Trump has the lowest favorable rating among the candidates with 29%. He also has the highest unfavorable rating with 61% finding him to be unfavorable.

Ted Cruz has a total 47% unfavorable rating, with 27% finding him unfavorable and 20% finding him very unfavorable. While 34% of the respondents find Cruz favorable.

Ben Carson has a 43% unfavorable rating and a 38% favorable rating. While Marco Rubio has a 42% unfavorable rating, but the highest favorable rating (39%) among all Republican hopefuls.

Kasich has the lowest unfavorable rating with 24% and a 32% favorable rating even though he is the candidate with the least name recognition with close to 20% saying they have never heard of him.

Both of the Democratic hopefuls also have higher "unfavorable" ratings, with respondents finding Hillary Clinton more unfavorable (50%) than favorable (43%). Bernie Sanders also has higher unfavorable (47%) ratings than favorable (40%).

Even though he is not running for President, Joe Biden is viewed more favorably than any of the Presidential candidates with 52% of respondents having either a favorable or very favorable opinion of him. We decided to include Vice President Biden in our survey because there is considerable support for a potential nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July.


Hillary Clinton cannot seem to shake the stigma of being untrustworthy. The opinions by Virginians about Clinton "Not" being trustworthy (56%) are higher than her "Trustworthy" ratings (42%). Likely voters in Virginia find Bernie Sanders (59.5%) significantly more trustworthy than Hillary Clinton (42%) by nearly 18 points.

Sanders Clinton
Trustworthy 59.5% 42%
Not 34.4% 56%
Don't Know/Refused 6.2% 2%

Republican hopeful and Ohio Governor John Kasich has the highest trustworthy rating among respondents who have heard of the candidates and have an opinion about them, with nearly 69% finding Kasich trustworthy. Republican Ben Carson is also considered highly trustworthy with 63% coming in second among the Republican hopefuls.

Nearly 60 percent of likely voters in Virginia find Jeb Bush trustworthy. He came in third with 59% of Virginians finding him to be trustworthy.

Less than forty percent of Virginia's likely voters find Ted Cruz (38%) to be trustworthy. Nearly 52% of those surveyed find Marco Rubio trustworthy, while Donald Trump is at the bottom of the list with the lowest trustworthiness rating of any Republican or Democratic candidate with nearly 29% of Virginians finding him untrustworthy.

Kasich Carson Bush Rubio Cruz Trump
Trustworthy 68.5% 63% 59.4% 51.6% 38% 28.5%
Not 23% 32% 35.4% 40% 53% 67.5%
Don't Know/Refused 8.5% 5% 5.2% 8.4% 9% 4%

Continued approval for President Obama and VA Governor McAuliffe

The current President continues to have high approval ratings with Virginians. More than half of respondents approve (52%) of the job Barack Obama is doing as President of the United States, with 47% disapproving.

While Governor Terry McAuliffe also continues to have the approval of the majority of Virginia's likely voters with a 59% approval rating and 26% disapproving of his performance in office.

Super Tuesday will be one to watch in the Commonwealth as Virginians go to the polls in 5 days on March 1, 2016.


The statewide survey was conducted by a professional call center (SSRS) for the Hampton University Center for Public Policy under the general direction of Kelly Harvey, J.D. The survey of likely voters in Virginia (persons living in the State who are registered to vote and said they are almost certain or very likely to vote in the next election). Live interviews were conducted via telephone (259 cell phone/241 land line) from February 18-22, 2016. Interviews were stratified by counties and cities to reflect historic voter trends. This survey was conducted using a listed sample of registered voters attained from Marketing Systems Group (MSG). The data is not weighted. The overall margin of error for the entire sample of 500 likely voters is +/- 5% at a 95 percent confidence interval.