Virginians on the Governor’s Race, Felon Voting Rights, Sports, and More

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s new look at next year’s race for Governor in Virginia finds that indecision abounds. None of the candidates are particularly well known- Ed Gillespie has the highest name recognition but it’s still only 42%, followed by Ralph Northam at 34%, Corey Stewart at 25%, and Rob Wittman at 24%. Hypothetical head to heads between Northam and the Republican hopefuls all find basically tied races- Gillespie has a 37/36 edge over Northam, Wittman and Northam each get 34%, and Northam has a 34/32 edge on Stewart. When it comes to who Republicans want their candidate to be next year, ‘not sure’ wins with 41%. Among the actual candidates Gillespie is tops with 29% to 16% for Wittman, and 13% for Stewart.

Other notes from Virginia:

-Jim Webb and Jim Gilmore may have been a little over their heads running for President and the Lieutenant Governor’s office is open in Virginia next year so we tested them in a hypothetical match up for an office that might be a little bit more realistic for each of them. Webb leads Gilmore 40/30 in the down ballot showdown. 15 years after leaving office as Governor, Gilmore has actually been forgotten by a majority of voters in the state. 53% have no opinion about him one way or another and his favorability comes in at 20/27.

Two other former Virginia elected officials might be better off if voters forgot about them. Eric Cantor has a -24 net favorability rating at 13/37 and Ken Cuccinelli has a -9 net favorability rating at 26/35. Neither of them is particularly well situated to make a political comeback.

-Terry McAuliffe’s executive order restoring felon voting rights is proving to be very popular- 65% of voters support it to only 26% who are opposed. It has overwhelming support from both Democrats (85/10) and independents (61/29) and even Republicans (43/45) are pretty evenly divided.

-As we’ve found everywhere we’ve polled on it lately there’s strong support in Virginia for nonpartisan redistricting- 57% of voters are in a favor of it to only 9% who are opposed. It has bipartisan support with independents (65/7), Democrats (60/8), and Republicans (43/15) all in favor of it.

-Virginia provides yet another data point showing how the Affordable Care Act is not the political liability for Democrats that it once was. 43% of voters in the state support it to 39% who are opposed. Democrats (77%) are more unified in their support of it than Republicans (72%) are in their opposition- that’s a much different calculus than we found in the years immediately following its passage.

-52% of Virginians think the vacancy on the Supreme Court should be filled this year, to only 41% who think it should be left empty for the next President. That includes 50/41 support from independent voters for filling it this year. When it comes to whether there should at least be hearings on Merrick Garland’s nomination there’s almost no division at all. 64% of voters support them to only 19% who are opposed, and that includes 78/8 support from Democrats, 65/20 from independents, and 45/33 from Republicans.

We also find voters siding with Democrats on a couple other major national issues going on right now. 73% of voters support increasing the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour, compared to only 15% who think it’s fine where it is right now, and 10% who think the minimum wage should be eliminated altogether. Support for raising the minimum wage comes from 92% of Democrats, 64% of independents, and even 54% of Republicans.

Finally Virginians support the EPA’s Clean Power Plan 63/31.

-We asked a variety of questions about Virginia’s state boundaries, and voters in the state are fine with Virginia remaining how it is. Only 16% of Virginians want West Virginia back, to 59% who say West Virginia can keep doing its own thing. Last month we found that West Virginians opposed going back to being part of Virginia 85/10, so both parties agree on this issue. 

Virginians don’t want Washington DC as part of their state either. Only 17% of voters in the state support annexing Washington, to 50% of voters opposed to doing that. Virginians do, however, support DC statehood. 45% of voters are in favor of that 39% who are opposed. That’s a pretty polarizing issue with Democrats in favor of it 62/20, but Republicans opposed to it 24/62.

And finally voters are opposed to Northern Virginia seceding to become its own state. Voters in the region itself are against that idea 23/62, and so are voters throughout the state. So Virginians are a big happy family just as they are.

-Finally we polled on sports in the state. The Nationals lead the way in MLB loyalty with 17% to 13% for the Yankees, 11% each for the Braves and Red Sox, 7% for the Orioles, and 5% for the Mets. 40% of Northern Virginians are Nationals fans but they really don’t have all that much of a following in the rest of the state- the Braves with 15% fan support followed by the Yankees at 14% and Red Sox at 10% lead in ‘real Virginia’ with the Nationals at just 9%.

The Redskins lead in NFL fandom with 21% to 14% for the Cowboys, 7% each for the Panthers, Patriots, and Steelers, 6% each for the Packers and Eagles, and 5% for the Ravens. There continues to be little support in the state for the Redskins changing their name- only 21% of voters support doing that to 66% are opposed. Republicans are against it 85/3, independents are 69/19, and even Democrats are 51/35.

Virginia leads Virginia Tech in sports fandom 31-22, although a 47% plurality of voters in the state has no loyalty to either school. Virginia fans with an opinion about it approve of the firing of Mike London (31/18) and also approve of the hiring of Bronco Mendenhall (32/10) as football coach. Frank Beamer unsurprisingly leaves Virginia Tech as a pretty universally beloved figure (63/6 favorability) and fans are also pretty happy with the hiring of Justin Fuente (36/7 approval).

Full results here

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