Northam, Va. Dems lead in new poll; Hogan remains popular ahead of 2018

WASHINGTON —  Six weeks before Virginians head to the polls, Democratic candidate for governor Ralph Northam leads his Republican challenger Ed Gillespie, according to a new survey of likely voters.

Democrats are also ahead in races for lieutenant governor and attorney general, according to the survey of 776 likely voters conducted by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University published Monday.

In the survey, Northam, who is currently serving as the state’s lieutenant governor, is running ahead of Gillespie, the former Republican National Committee chair, by 6 percentage points — 47 percent to 41 percent.

Libertarian Cliff Hyra notches 4 percent among the likely voters, with another 8 percent undecided.

The center said Northam’s lead over Gillespie comes in part from strong support from women (up by 18 percentage points) and voters under 45 (also up 18 percentage points). Northam’s lead over Gillespie among Northern Virginia voters is 11 percentage points and 20 points among Hampton Roads voters, according to the survey.

Gillespie leads men by 7 percentage points and performs better in the Richmond area and rural parts of the state.

In the race for lieutenant governor, former federal prosecutor Justin Fairfax, a Democrat, leads Republican state Sen. Jill Vogel, 46 percent to 42 percent.

Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring, who’s running for re-election, appears to be leading Republican challenger John Adams, a former federal prosecutor and White House aide, 47 percent to 42 percent.

In addition to the races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, all 100 seats in Virginia’s House of Delegates are up for grabs. In a generic test ballot, the Democratic candidate leads the Republican 47 percent to 40 percent, according to the survey.

The survey, which was conducted by telephone between Sept. 12 and Sept. 22, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. The center defined likely voters as registered voters with a history of voting in recent statewide races and who said they planned to vote in the Nov. 7 election.

Hogan remains popular in Maryland

In Maryland, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan remains popular with voters statewide and —  more than a year before the 2018 gubernatorial election —  a majority of registered voters are backing him.

Fifty-one percent of Maryland voters in a new Goucher College poll said they are either leaning toward voting to re-elect Hogan or will definitely vote to re-elect him. Forty-two percent of voters said they are leaning toward another candidate or will definitely vote for someone else in the 2018 election.

Hogan took 51 percent of the vote in his successful 2014 run for governor. A slate of Democrats are lining up for the chance tor run against him next fall in a state where Democrats outnumber Republican by 2 to 1.

The Goucher poll surveyed 671 Maryland residents between Sept. 14 and Sept. 17 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

Overall, 62 percent of Marylanders said they approve of the job Hogan is doing as governor. Sixteen percent of respondents said they disapproved of his job performance and 20 percent said they didn’t know.

Hogan has maintained a 60-plus approval rating in the poll since February 2016.

Twenty-five percent of Maryland voters approve of President Donald Trump’s job performance and 71 percent disapprove.

In the poll, 43 percent of respondents said they believed Hogan had distanced himself from Trump “about the right amount.” Twenty-seven percent said they think Hogan has distanced himself from the president too little, and 11 percent think Hogan has distanced himself too much.

Nearly half of the state’s voters — 47 percent — said they think Hogan is a moderate and 44 percent said they think he represents the Republican party of the future.

Maryland voters who said they planned to vote in the 2018 election, most frequently named the economy as the single most important issue, 28 percent. Twenty percent of voters said education and 12 percent said taxes or health care was the most important issue to them.

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