by Joshua Pinho
A new poll out in Virginia shows that tomorrow’s gubernatorial primary election may be a lot closer than many originally predicted.
Previous polling showed establishment favorite, former RNC chairman and unsuccessful 2014 Senate candidate Ed Gillespie, with a comfortable double digit lead over Prince William County supervisor — and outspoken Trump supporter — Corey Stewart. However, the new poll places Stewart ahead with 42 percent to Gillespie’s 41 percent among Republicans who say they will definitely vote.
Stewart’s strength in this poll comes from his energized base and their likelihood to actually make the trip to their polling place. According to the poll of 3,232 Virginia voters, Stewart has a strong lead among voters who say they will definitely vote in tomorrow’s primary:
Among those who say they’ll definitely vote Republican, Stewart has 28% definite support. Ed Gillespie and Frank Wagner have 19% and 7% support, respectively.
58% of those who prefer Stewart say they’ll definitely vote for him if they vote, compared to just 38% of those who prefer Gillespie. And 80% of those who prefer Stewart say they’ll definitely vote, compared to 70% of those who prefer Gillespie.
It should be noted that this relatively new polling outlet predicted the results of Montana’s at-large congressional race within one point. They also released an analysis of the race which showed how small the effect of the “body slam” incident was on Rep. Greg Gianforte’s ultimate victory in that race.
Like Gianforte, Stewart has also made his support for President Trump a key part of his campaign. In 2016, he served as the Trump campaign’s Virginia state chairman until he participated in an unauthorized protest in front of the RNC headquarters in Washington, after which, he was fired. However, he has continued to vocally back the President, and as a result, support for Trump and support for Stewart are closely linked. According to the poll, “14% of Virginia’s electorate rates Trump’s performance a 9 or 10 out of 10.” Among this voting bloc of dedicated Republican voters, Stewart enjoys a 15-point lead over Gillespie.
The poll was not all bad news for Gillespie, though, as the polling company states:
[T]here are many voters who say they’ll “probably” vote in the Republican primary and — if they vote — will “probably” vote for Ed Gillespie. If 60% of those people show up and 70% of the voters cast a ballot for Gillespie, Gillespie will lose. If 90% show up and almost all of them vote for Gillespie, then Gillespie will win.
Thus, Stewart’s support is strong, dedicated, and motivated, while Gillespie will enjoy the benefits of his establishment support and endorsements.
In an election with low overall enthusiasm — according to the poll, only 54 percent of Republican voters say they will definitely vote, and 30 percent less votes will be cast in the Republican primary than on the Democratic side — Stewart’s strong support among enthusiastic Trump voters may deliver another upset to the GOP establishment.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore