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Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy

Wason Center

October 15, 2018

Taylor Leads Luria by 7pts in VA CD 2, Preserves Lead Among Most Committed Voters

Republican incumbent Scott Taylor leads Democrat Elaine Luria by 7 points, 50%-43%, in 2nd District congressional contest; Taylor campaign's ballot signature scandal shows little effect.

Summary of Key Findings

  1. Taylor leads Luria by 7% among likely voters and maintains a 6% advantage among the most committed voters.
  2. Taylor's lead stands in spite of Democratic voters showing a 10% "enthusiasm advantage."
  3. Voters are largely unfazed by the investigation into Taylor campaign workers turning in fraudulent signatures to help add an independent candidate to the ballot, with 68% of Independents saying the scandal "does not matter."
  4. Despite her own military background, former Navy Commander Luria is losing the vote of military households by 22% to former Navy Seal Taylor.
  5. Incumbent Democratic Senator Tim Kaine leads Republican challenger Corey Stewart in the 2nd District by 5%, 47%-42%, among likely voters.

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 general elections in Virginia, or who were new voters to Virginia in 2017 (n=798), Republican Scott Taylor currently holds a 7-point advantage over Democrat Elaine Luria, 50% to 43%, in the 2nd Congressional District race.  Notably, Taylor maintains almost his entire lead over Luria in our "Committed Voter" model, which analyzes only people who say they will "definitely vote."  Among these voters, Taylor leads Luria by 6 points, 50% to 44%.

In both models, partisans are firmly entrenched in their camps, with both Taylor and Luria taking over 90% of their partisans' support.  Independents break for Taylor by 9 points, with nearly no change in the more restrictive turnout model, where the lead is 8 points.  Despite a large gender gap favoring Democrats among women nationally and in other congressional races, the gender gap in this race is modest.  Luria is winning women by 5 points.  We also find a much narrower advantage for the Democrat among younger voters, perhaps reflecting the large military presence in the district.  Luria holds a mere 2-point advantage among voters under the age of 45.

"Unlike his Republican peers in Congress, so far Tayor seems to be weathering a tough electoral environment well," said Dr. Rachel Bitecofer, assistant director of the Wason Center.  Among the 72% of voters aware of the investigation into Taylor campaign workers gathering fraudulent signatures to help put an independent candidate on the ballot, the vast majority report that it does not matter.  Most notably, 68% of Independents report that the scandal does not matter to their vote.

Luria's military background as a retired Navy Commander does not appear to offset Taylor's advantage among military voters, who tend to lean Republican.  Taylor, a former Navy Seal, holds a 22-point advantage among voters from a military household. Luria does not appear to benefit much from a "Trump Bump" that is helping Democrats elsewhere.  President Donald Trump's job approval is upside down among likely voters in the 2nd district, with 46% saying they approve and 51% saying they disapprove.  By comparison, in Virginia's 10th District, a Wason Center poll released on Oct. 4 showed Trump's job approval in a deep hole, 38% to 59%, and Democrat Jennifer Wexton leading incumbent Republican Barbara Comstock by 7 points.  But the 2nd District is not a Republican lock.  Although Trump carried the 2nd District by 3 points in 2016, Democrat Ralph Northam won it by 4 points in the 2017 gubernatorial race. "If Democratic turnout reaches its 2017 levels, this race could narrow or even flip unexpectedly to Luria," said Bitecofer.  "Much depends on whether Democratic voters in this district maintain their enthusiasm through Election Day."  Democrats currently hold a 10-point "enthusiasm" advantage among 2nd District voters. 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 challenger Corey Stewart stood in one of the more competitive congressional races in the state.  Among voters in the 2nd District, Kaine holds a 5-point lead over Stewart, 47% to 42%.  Libertarian candidate Matt Waters is receiving 5% of the vote, and 5% say they are undecided.  By comparison, in the Wason Center's Oct. 4 survey of the 10th District, Kaine led Stewart by 21 points, 55%-34%.
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