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Wason Center Releases Early Look at 2021 Statewide Contests

Most voters undecided in contests for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general.

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Most voters are undecided but some key contests emerge as Virginia Republicans and Democrats begin to sort out their party’s nominations for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, according to a survey released today by the Wason Center for Civic Leadership.

In the Democratic primary contest for governor, former governor Terry McAuliffe leads among Democratic voters with 26%, followed by Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (12%), former Prince William Del. Jennifer Carrol Foy and Richmond Sen. Jennifer McClellan at 4% each and Manassas Del. Lee Carter (1%). Almost half of Democratic voters are undecided (49%).

“New Democratic faces and priorities have emerged since Terry McAuliffe was governor,” said Wason Center Academic Director Dr. Quentin Kidd. “He opens with a head start, but he’s a long way from closing the deal.”

Vying for the top of the Republican ticket, Chesterfield Sen. Amanda Chase leads a crowded field with 17%, followed by former Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox (10%) and entrepreneur Pete Snyder (6%). A majority of Republicans (55%) are also undecided in this very unsettled race.

“The underlying friction between Chase’s fervent Trumpism and Cox’s Reagan Republican credentials could crack the party and open the door for Snyder or another contender,” said Wason Center Research Director Dr. Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo.

Here are the highlights of the other nominating contests:

  • No Democratic candidate in the crowded field for lieutenant governor has made a significant impression on voters, with almost four out of five Democrats undecided (78%).
  • Virginia Beach Del. Glenn Davis (8%) leads the field for the Republican lieutenant governor nomination, but most Republican voters are also undecided (71%).
  • Seeking the Democratic nomination to a third term, Attorney General Mark Herring (42%) holds an imposing lead over Norfolk Del. Jerrauld “Jay” Jones (3%), but half of Democrats remain undecided (50%).
  • Virginia Beach lawyer Chuck Smith (10%) leads the race for the Republican attorney general nomination, but two-thirds of Republican voters are undecided (68%).

The results of this survey are based on interviews of 1,005 Virginia registered voters, conducted Jan. 31-Feb. 14, 2021. The margin of error for the whole survey is 3.4%. The full report is available at cnu.edu/wasoncenter.


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