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Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy

Wason Center

October 4, 2018

Wexton Leads Comstock by 7pts in VA CD10, Democrats Enjoy 15pt Enthusiasm Gap

Democrat Wexton leads Republican incumbent Comstock by 7 points in 10th District congressional race, 51%-44%; among most committed voters, Wexton's lead grows to 11%.

Summary of Key Findings

  1. In our likely voter model, Democrat Jennifer Wexton leads Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock 51% to 44%.
  2. In our second model, restricted to the most committed voters, Wexton's lead expands to 11 points, 53%-42%.
  3. Democrats benefit from a 16-point "enthusiasm gap" in the 10th Congressional District.
  4. 51% of voters in the district strongly disapprove of the job President Trump is doing, while 25 strongly approve.
  5. In the U.S. Senate contest, Democratic incumbent Tim Kaine holds a 21-point advantage over Republican Corey Stewart among 10th Congressional District voters, 5%-34%.

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

Among registered voters who have voted in at least two of the last four elections in Virginia, or who were new voters to Virginia in 2017 (n=794), Democrat Jennifer Wexton currently holds a 7-point advantage over incumbent Republican Congresswoman Barbara Comstock. Wexton leads Comstock 51% to 44% with 5% undecided in Virginia’s 10th congressional district.

If that model is restricted to only those voters who also said they were definitely going to vote and were very enthusiastic about the coming election (n=711), Wexton’s lead over Comstock grows to 11-points, 53% to 42%, with 5% undecided.

In both models, partisans are firmly entrenched in their camps, with both Comstock and Wexton taking over 90% of their partisans’ support. Independents overall break for Wexton by 18%, but that lead among Independents grows to 23% in the more restrictive turnout model. Wexton holds a lead among women of 11%, and that lead grows to 19% in the more restrictive model. Wexton holds a strong lead among voters under age 45, but voters 45 and older split their vote nearly evenly between the two.

“Like many of her peers around the country, Wexton is benefiting from a midterm atmosphere that significantly favors Democrats,” said Dr. Rachel Bitecofer, assistant director of the Wason Center. “Democrats have maintained a generic ballot advantage of around 7-points over the past few months and that is giving Democrats a Trump bump.”

Despite reelecting Comstock by 6-points in 2016, the 10th District broke for Democrat Ralph Northam by 9-points in the 2017 governor’s race on a surge of turnout by Democratic voters. Although incumbency is a powerful advantage, in some circumstances the benefits of incumbency are outweighed by the national context of the race. If the electorate in the 10th Congressional District is similar to the electorate in 2017, Wexton may actually overperform our more restrictive 2nd model. In this analysis, Republicans and Democrats are divided fairly equally. But in 2017, Democrats outperformed Republicans as a share of the electorate by 9 points.

In what might be a sign that such a difference in turnout will repeat this Election Day, Democrats outnumber Republicans 75%-59% among 10th District voters who say they are “very enthusiastic” about going to the polls in this election.

Although the Wason Center is not polling Virginia’s U.S. Senate race statewide, we wanted to get a sense of how the race between incumbent Democratic Senator Tim Kaine and Republican Corey Stewart stood in one of the most competitive congressional races in the state. Among voters in the 10th District, Kaine holds a commanding 21-point lead over Stewart, 55% to 34%. Libertarian candidate Matt Waters is receiving 5% of the
vote and 6% say they are undecided.

The difficult election cycle facing both Comstock and Stewart is demonstrated by President Donald Trump’s low job approval among likely voters in the 10th Congressional District. Voters disapprove of the job Trump is doing by 59% to 38%.

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