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A Survey of 750 Likely Voters - VA Governor's Election Poll - Virginia, Statewide - October 18-22, 2017

With less than two weeks to go before voters head to the polls to elect the next Governor of Virginia, Republican Ed Gillespie has an eight point lead ahead of Democrat Ralph Northam, according to a poll released today by the Hampton University Center for Public Policy (CPP). When asked if the General Election were held today for whom would you vote, 41% of likely voters surveyed chose Ed Gillespie, while 33% picked Ralph Northam. The key (as in last year's presidential election) are the 27% of the likely voters who remain Undecided. Even though Gillespie has a sizeable lead over Northam, the 27% of Undecided voters may mean that the race is tighter than the survey revealed.

Improving the economy and creating jobs remains the number one priority among likely voters. Likely voters also oppose having the designation of a sanctuary city in Virginia, but an overwhelming majority would not mind having their hometown designated as one. Plus, 56% of Virginians surveyed disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as President of the United States.

The poll was conducted from October 18 -22, 2017 and included 750 live interviews of likely voters in Virginia who are registered to vote and said they are likely to vote in this presidential election. The margin of error is +/- 4.2%. For more details and the complete survey and Topline results, please click here.

The Race For Governor

Republican Ed Gillespie has the clear edge (41%) over Democrat Ralph Northam (33%) among likely voters who have made a decision about a candidate. What stands out in the CPP poll results is the 27% of likely voters who are undecided. The data shows that among those who are undecided (165 undecided; 36 refused to answer), 24% lean Democrat, while only 19% lean Republican, and a full 28% identify as a true Independent.

Q3. If the general election for Governor of Virginia were held today, for whom would you vote:

Interviews Percent
Ed Gillespie (R) 304 41%
Ralph Northam (D) 245 33%
Don't Know/Refused 201 27%
TOTAL 750 100%

Among those surveyed who support Republican Ed Gillespie, 48% are white, and 57% of those who support Democrat Ralph Northam are Black. Most of Gillespie's support comes from men (Men 47%, Women 34%), while more women favor Northam (Women 35%, Men 30%) (Don't Know/Refused – Men 23%, Women 30%). The majority of those who remain Undecided are Women (Women 30%, Men 23%)

Q3. If the general election for Governor of Virginia were held today, for whom would you vote:

Black White Men Women
Ed Gillespie (R) 12% 48% 47% 34%
Ralph Northam (D) 57% 27% 30% 35%
DK/Refused 30% 25% 23% 30%
TOTAL 99 100 100 99

Both candidates are well known by those surveyed, and exactly half of Virginia's likely voters have a favorable opinion of Ed Gillespie (50%) while 46% feel favorably about Ralph Northam.

Priority For Next Governor

Consistent with prior CPP polls, Virginia's likely voters rank improving the economy and creating jobs as the top priority for their Governor (34%). Healthcare remains solid as the second priority (23%) and Education (18%) remains number three on the list. Improving transportation infrastructure such as bridges, tunnels and road surfaces was fourth on the priority list at 13% and Gun control was once again at the bottom of the list with 9% but up six percentage points from the CPP poll conducted in June.

Q4. Please tell me which one issue on this list should be the top priority of the next Governor of Virginia, no matter who it is:

Interviews Percent
Working to improve the Economy and create jobs 256 34%
Healthcare 175 23%
Education 135 18%
Improving transportation infrastructure
(such as bridges, tunnels and road surfaces)
95 13%
Gun Control 66 9%
Don't Know/Refused 21 3%
TOTAL 750 100%

For those surveyed, Healthcare remains an important issue. Of the 93% with health insurance, 43% are covered through their employer and 20% are covered through Medicare. While there are many reasons people do not have health insurance, of the likely voters surveyed, 7% are not covered and rank the expensive cost of health insurance as the number one reason for being uninsured (click here to see Topline Results).

The Issues

Political Ads

While there is no campaign season without campaign ads, likely voters are evenly split regarding the level of attention they pay to political advertisements. Exactly 50% of those surveyed report they pay little to no attention and 50% reported they pay attention somewhat to very closely.

A clear majority (68%) of voters believe that most political advertising focuses on attacking the opponent rather than promoting the preferred candidate directly (18%), while 14% replied they don't know or they refused to answer. Negative ads make 58% or those surveyed "Less Likely" to vote for the candidate who sponsored the ad and 30% of those survey said political ads had "No Impact" for them. Only 8% reported that negative ads would make them "More Likely" to support the sponsor of the ad (4% Don't Know or Refused to answer).

Confederate Statues

A clear majority (62%) of likely Virginia voters oppose the removal of statues and memorials of Confederate leaders from public spaces.

Q11. Do you favor or oppose removing statues and memorials of Confederate leaders from public spaces?

Interviews Percent
Favor Removal 229 31%
Oppose Removal 461 62%
Don’t Know/Refused 60 8%
TOTAL 750 100%

Sanctuary Cities

Just over one-half (53%) of likely Virginia voters oppose the concept of Sanctuary Cities (36% Favor Sanctuary Cities, 10% Don't Know/Refused) and over half of those surveyed (56%) are opposed to establishing one in the Commonwealth of Virginia (36% Favor a Sanctuary City in VA, 8% Don't Know). However, of the 267 likely Virginia voters who favor establishing a Sanctuary City within Virginia, 256 of them (96%) would be comfortable with their own hometowns becoming Sanctuary Cities, as opposed to only 2% who would oppose it. (Click here to see Topline Results).

Approval Ratings of the Current VA Governor and POTUS

More than one-half (56%) of likely Virginia voters disapprove of the job that Donald Trump is doing as President of the United States. A number slightly higher than the national average.

Even though he is on the way out, current Governor Terry McAuliff continues to have high approval ratings with 52% of likely Virginia voters surveyed approving of the job he has done in the Commonwealth of Virginia.


The statewide survey was conducted by a professional call center (SSRS - Social Science Research Solutions) for the Hampton University Center for Public Policy under the general direction of Kelly Harvey-Viney, J.D.

Live interviews were conducted by telephone from October 18-22, 2017. SSRS fielded a 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).

The sample was Random Digit Dialing (RDD) Landline and Cell, drawn in geographic proportion to the registered voter population of Virginia ages 18 years or age and older. These data were weighted to reflect the voter registration population of Virginia ages 18 years of age and older. This weighting combined with rounding is responsible for percentages not always equaling exactly 100%; this phenomenon is most obvious in the allocation by county as the very large number of response categories provided a multitude of opportunities for rounding and resulted in totals of significantly less than 100% (89%) overall.

The weighting process takes into account the disproportionate probabilities of household and respondent selection due to the number of landlines or cellphones answered by respondents and their households.

Following application of the above weights, the sample is post-stratified and balanced by key demographics such as age, race, sex, education, marital status, and party affiliation.

The sample is also weighted to reflect the distribution of phone usage in Virginia, meaning the proportion of those who are cell phone only, landline only, and mixed users. A total of 750 interviews were conducted between October 18th and October 22nd, 2017; 400 using Landline sample and 350 using Cell sample.

The margin of error for the survey is +/- 4.2% for the full sample.