Northam Leads Gillespie, 48%-44%, in Tightening Race - The Wason Center - Christopher Newport University

October 17, 2017

Northam Leads Gillespie, 48%-44%, in Tightening Race

"Northam leads Gillespie, 48%-44%, in tightening race."

Summary of Key Findings

  1. Democrat Ralph Northam's 4-point lead over Republican Ed Gillespie is the slimmest since the Wason Center's September 25 benchmark survey.
  2. While Northam's vote has ranged between 47% and 49%, Gillespie’s vote has increased from 41% to 44%.
  3. As Gillespie’s share increased and Northam’s decreased in this poll, the gap is within the poll’s margin of error for the first time in this tracking series.
  4. Democratic candidates lead Republican candidates in the generic House of Delegates ballot test, 48% to 40%.


Three weeks before Virginians choose their next governor, current Democratic Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam maintains a lead in a tightening race with former Republican National Committee Chair Ed Gillespie. Northam’s lead stands at 4% (48% to 44%), according to a Wason Center survey of likely voters. Libertarian Cliff Hyra polled at 3%, with 5% undecided.

This is the first poll in the Wason Center’s tracking series in which Northam’s lead is within the survey’s margin of error. In the benchmark poll, released September 25, Northam’s lead stood at 6% (47% to 41%), and it grew to 7% (49% to 42%) in the first tracking poll, released October 9. The current survey is also the first in which Northam’s share shrank as Gillespie’s increased.

“With even a weak third-party candidate on the ballot, the winner may not cross the 50% mark,” said Rachel Bitecofer, assistant director of the Wason Center. “But there’s plenty of room and time left for Northam to close the deal or for Gillespie to close the gap.”

In a generic House of Delegates test ballot, Democratic candidates continue to lead Republican candidates, 48% to 40%. The Democrats’ lead in the generic ballot has fluctuated between 7% and 11% since the Wason Center’s benchmark poll.

This poll did not assess the races for Lieutenant Governor or Attorney General, but those will be included in the Wason Center’s remaining two tracking surveys before the election. Election Day is Nov. 7.

The Wason Center surveyed 1,085 registered voters, including 642 who were determined to be likely voters, October 9-13. The results reported here are of those 642 likely voters, which carry a margin of error of +/- 4.2% at the 95% level of confidence. Likely voters are registered voters with a history of voting in recent statewide elections, who also say they definitely or probably will vote in the upcoming election.

For further information contact:

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

Dr. Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo, Research Lab Director
Office: (757) 594-9140

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