October 28, 2020

Virginia Statewide General Election Survey

"Biden leads Trump, 53%-41%, among likely Va. voters; Warner leads Gade, 57%-37%, in U.S. Senate race; redistricting amendment strongly favored, 54%-24%"


Summary of Key Findings

  1. Democrat Joe Biden enters the final week of voting with a 12-point lead over President Donald Trump among likely Virginia voters, 53%-41%.
  2. For U.S. Senate, Democrat Mark Warner holds a commanding 20-point lead over Republican Daniel Gade, 57%-37%.
  3. Voters show strong, bipartisan approval (54%-24%) for Constitutional Amendment 1, establishing a redistricting commission to draw state and congressional district lines.
  4. Biden’s advantage is built on Democrats’ usual coalition of Black voters (90%-9%), women (60%-38%), and college-educated voters (60-35%), plus a lead among older voters (54%-42%) and an even split among men (46%-45%).
  5. Virginia voters say the COVID-19 pandemic is the most important issue for the next president to address (29%), followed by the economy (21%) and health care (13%).

Analysis

Presidential Race: With Election Day just under a week away, Democrat Joe Biden holds a commanding lead over President Donald Trump in Virginia. Among likely voters, Biden leads Trump by 12 points, 53%-41%. Very few voters remain undecided (4%), with many voters having already cast their ballots in-person or by mail.

“Biden’s lead continues to illustrate Virginia’s solid shift left in presidential and statewide races,” said Wason Center Research Director Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo. “The test on Election Day will be whether that shift holds in the competitive congressional districts that went to Democrats in 2018.”

Biden’s lead among Virginia voters is partially built from a large gender gap. Women support Biden over Trump 60%-38%, while men, usually Republican-leaning, are closely split at 46%-45%. In 2016 Trump’s support among men in Virginia was 52% to Hillary Clinton’s 43%. Biden’s lead also stems from very strong support in the traditional Democratic coalition of Black voters (90%-9%) and college-educated voters (60%-35%), while among voting groups that tend to support Republicans, Trump shows only a small advantage among non-college educated voters (48% to 46%) and trails Biden among voters 45 and older (54%-42%). Both hold their partisan base, with 90% of Republicans supporting Trump and 93% of Democrats supporting Biden.

U.S. Senate: Democrat Mark Warner leads Republican Daniel Gade by 20 points among likely voters (57%-37%), showing strength across all groups except Republican partisans. This represents a 7-point increase from the Wason Center poll in mid-September. Warner continues to do very well with the Democratic coalition of college-educated voters (62%-33%), younger voters (55%-35%), Black voters (85%-3%) and women (63%-34%), but also leads among men (51%-39%), voters 45 and older (58%-38%) and non-college-educated voters (51%-41%), and matches Gade among white voters (48%-48%). Since the September survey, Warner has gained significantly in those Republican-leaning groups. Gade’s support is derived from his Republican base (86%).

Constitutional Amendment: Virginia voters continue to show strong support (54%-24%) for a state constitutional amendment creating a commission to draw boundaries for Virginia’s 11 U.S. Congressional districts, 40 state Senate districts and 100 House of Delegates districts. The 30-point lead comes from a strong preference in favor of the amendment across every voting group, though 22% are undecided. Democratic voters strongly support the measure (66%) while Republicans are closer on the issue (48% support, 31% oppose, 21% are undecided). This represents a disconnect between party leadership and their voters, as the Virginia Democratic Party opposes the measure, while the state Republican Party supports it.

Key Issues: Virginia voters indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic is the most important issue for the next president to address (29%), followed by the economy (21%) and health care (13%). Rounding out the top 5 issues for voters are racial inequality (11%) and climate change (6%). “Voters have COVID-19 on their minds as they vote, which is not good news for President Trump,” said Wason Center Academic Director Quentin Kidd.

How the survey was conducted:

The results of this poll are based on 908 interviews of registered Virginia voters, who have voted in at least two general elections in the last four years or are newly registered in the last 6 months, including 358 on landline and 550 on cell phone, conducted October 15-27, 2020. Percentages may not equal 100 due to rounding. The margin of error for the whole survey is +/-3.4% at the 95% level of confidence. This means that if 50% of respondents indicate a topline view on an issue, we can be 95% confident that the population’s view on that issue is somewhere between 46.6% and 53.4%. Sub-samples have a higher margin of error. All error margins have been adjusted to account for the survey’s design effect, which is 1.12 in this survey. The design effect is a factor representing the survey’s deviation from a simple random sample and takes into account decreases in precision due to sample design and weighting procedures. In addition to sampling error, the other potential sources of error include non-response, question wording, and interviewer error. The response rate (AAPOR RRI Standard Definition) for the survey was 7%. Five callbacks were employed in the fielding process. Live calling was conducted by trained interviewers at the Wason Center for Public Policy Survey Research Lab at Christopher Newport University. The data reported here are weighted using an iterative weighting process on region, age, race, sex, and education to reflect as closely as possible the population of Virginia’s 2020 electorate.


For further information contact:

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

Dr. Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo, Research Lab Director
rebecca.bromleytrujillo@cnu.edu
Office: (757) 594-9140

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