Polling News

Virginia’s Gubernatorial Primary

June 15, 2017

On Tuesday, 908,912 Virginians voted for Democratic and Republican candidates for the Nov. gubernatorial election.  Sixty percent (542,812 votes) cast ballots for a Democratic candidate, while 40% (366,100 votes) chose a Republican candidate.  Last spring, 1,810,807 Virginians voted in the presidential primary.  The GOP had the turnout edge, with 57% (1,025,617) voting in the Republican presidential primary compared to 43% (785,190) who voted in the Democratic presidential primary. 

The Republican race was much closer than public polls suggested going into Tuesday’s election.  The Virginia Public Access Project analysis of precincts with common characteristics may provide some insight as to where the race was competitive.  In these precincts, Ed Gillespie won college students, voters 61 years old and older, Asian voters, white voters in suburban and urban precincts, and voters with advanced degrees.  The runner-up, Corey Stewart, won precincts Donald Trump won in the 2016 primary, white voters with a high school education or less, African Americans who voted in 2016, Latinos, white voters in the Shenandoah Valley, and white voters in southwest Virginia.

The higher Democratic turnout in Virginia may be a product of the hype highlighting their primary as the closer race, but Republicans facing competitive races should figure out how to harness the energy with Trump’s base, especially white rural voters and those with a high school education or less, while carrying more traditional Republicans and conservative-leaning independents. 

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