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Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy

Wason Center

March 7, 2018

Large Midterm Effect Looms Over Virginia's 2018 Congressional Midterms

Blue Wave looms in Virginia 2018 congressional midterms; 50% believe Trump campaigners colluded with Russia; VA voters support Dreamers, oppose offshore drilling.

Summary of Key Findings

  1. Energized by backlash to President Trump, significantly more Democrats (60%) than Republicans (45%) are "very enthusiastic" about voting in November.
  2. 50% of voters think individuals in the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
  3. Voters prefer Democrats to Republicans on the generic ballot (45%-33%) and want Democrats to control Congress after the election (51%-38%). Those gaps widen to more than 20 points among likely voters.
  4. Enthusiasm gap and preferences in generic ballot and control of Congress favor Democrats in several House races.
  5. Virginia voters overwhelmingly support the Dream act (71%-25%), strongly oppose offshore oil drilling (54%-37%), and split evenly on the 2018 tax cut bill (45% approve-47% disapprove).

For further information contact:

Dr. Quentin Kidd, Director
qkidd@cnu.edu
Office: (757) 594-8499
Mobile: (757) 775-6932

Dr. Rachel Bitecofer, Assistant Director
rachel.bitecofer@cnu.edu
Office: (757) 594-8997
Mobile: (541) 729-9824

Analysis

The president’s party often loses seats in midterm elections, but the midterm advantage for Virginia Democrats in the 2018 congressional elections looks especially strong. Among registered voters overall, Democrats hold a 15-point enthusiasm advantage over Republicans, with 60% of Democrats indicating they are “very enthusiastic” about voting this November, compared with 45% of Republicans.

In addition, Democrats hold double-digit advantages on two metrics used to anticipate the midterm effect: generic ballot preference and control of Congress. Asked if they will vote for a Republican or Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives, 45% say Democratic, while 33% say Republican. Asked to indicate a preference for party control of Congress after the election, 51% say Democrats, while 38% say Republicans.

Among the 825 registered voters saying they are “very enthusiastic” about voting in the midterms, Democrats lead by 23% on the generic ballot test and 26% on the control of Congress test. “The question is no longer whether there is a Blue Wave coming, but rather, how high the storm surge will get,” said Rachel Bitecofer, assistant director of the Wason Center. “This enthusiasm gap in favor of Democrats suggests several House seats currently held by Republicans could be in play, such as the 1st, 2nd, 7th, and 10th
districts.”

Voters were asked if they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of President Donald Trump, congressional Republicans, congressional Democrats, the FBI, and the Department of Justice. Trump’s favorability rating stands at 35%, while ratings for the Republicans in Congress came in at 28%. Congressional Democrats fare better, with a favorability rating of 42%. Voters rated the FBI and the Department of Justice highest, at 63% and 53%, respectively. However, it appears both agencies have been affected by criticism from the president, as only 47% of Republicans approve of the FBI, compared with 76% of Democrats and 67% of Independents.

Virginia voters overwhelmingly support the Dream Act (71%-25%), which provides a pathway to legal status or citizenship for children brought into the country illegally by their parents. Voters strongly oppose drilling for oil off Virginia’s coast (54%-37%), a ban on which was recently lifted by President Trump. And they are evenly divided on the recently enacted Tax Cut and Reform Bill (45%-47%).

Half of the voters (50%) say they believe individuals in the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election, while 42% said they do not believe any coordination happened. Party identification is a strong determinant, with 81% of Republicans rejecting the idea of collusion and 81% of Democrats believing it. Independents are evenly split.

“From the enthusiasm gap to the Dream Act to collusion with the Russians, a sharp partisan divide is evident among Virginia voters,” said Quentin Kidd, the Center’s director. “Nine months out, it looks like we’re setting up for a base election with Democrats holding an upper hand.”

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