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Kaine leads U.S. Senate race by 23 points

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, left, holds a 23-point lead over challenger Corey Stewart among likely voter...
U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, left, holds a 23-point lead over challenger Corey Stewart among likely voters in Virginia’s Senate race. (Tim Kaine photo courtesy of U.S. Senate; Corey Stewart photo by Publius2016 at English Wikipedia)

Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine holds a commanding 23-point lead — 49 percent to 26 percent — over Republican challenger Corey Stewart among likely voters in Virginia’s Senate race, according to a new statewide poll by the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. Twenty percent of likely voters and 57 percent of independents remain undecided.

Stewart is attracting only 66 percent of Republican or Republican-leaning respondents so far and trailing Kaine by more than a 2-to-1 margin among those independents who have already decided for whom they will vote. By contrast, Kaine has the support of 88 percent of Democrats. 

The poll, a random sample of 802 adults in Virginia conducted by landline and cell telephone from July 10-30, has a margin of error of 3.49 percent. Likely voter estimates have a margin of error of 3.59 percent.

Kaine is winning every key demographic category. Kaine’s lead is significantly larger among women (56 percent to 21 percent) but he also leads among men (40 percent to 33 percent). Similarly, Kaine leads by a wide margin among minority respondents (74 percent to 7 percent) but also by a small margin among white respondents (39 percent to 35 percent). Respondents ages 18 to 34 and those with some college or a college degree were also significantly more likely to favor Kaine.

Stewart is attracting only 66 percent of Republican or Republican-leaning respondents so far and trailing Kaine by more than a 2-to-1 margin among those independents who have already decided for whom they will vote.
Stewart is attracting only 66 percent of Republican or Republican-leaning respondents so far and trailing Kaine by more than a 2-to-1 margin among those independents who have already decided for whom they will vote.

The poll also asked respondents which party they would rather see in control of Congress. A narrow majority of 51 percent of respondents said they would rather see the Democrats control Congress. That compares to 32 percent who would prefer Republican control, giving a 19-point margin to Democrats, a finding that may indicate a possible blue wave in several congressional races. A stronger alignment among Democrats (91 percent prefer Democratic control of Congress) than among Republicans (where only 80 percent prefer Republican control and 16 percent are undecided) appears to drive the Democrats’ lead and may indicate some level of tension between the preferences of Virginia Republicans and the national leadership of the Republican party. Independents, on the other hand, are still mostly (57 percent) undecided.

Amid the furor over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which seeks to deport all undocumented immigrants, the poll also finds that a plurality of Virginians (48 percent, up from 39 percent in 2017) would like to see only those undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes targeted for deportation. Twenty-seven percent want to see all undocumented immigrants deported, 18 percent prefer targeting those convicted of any crime and only 3 percent support no deportations of undocumented immigrants. 

In other findings, the poll shows that only 16 percent of Virginians want the Virginia General Assembly in charge of legislative redistricting after the 2020 census — 24 percent favor a panel of local and state experts and 20 percent favor a citizen commission.  

For a PDF of the 22-page report, including complete question wording and detailed tables of results, go to oppo.vcu.edu.

On Friday, Aug. 10, the Wilder School’s Center for Public Policy will release further poll results measuring Virginians’ views on several policy issues facing localities, including whether localities should be able to restrict the carrying of weapons at public gatherings such as protests or festivals.

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 217 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Thirty-eight of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 11 schools and three colleges. The VCU Health brand represents the VCU health sciences academic programs, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center and Level I trauma center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, MCV Physicians and Virginia Premier Health Plan. For more, please visit www.vcu.edu and vcuhealth.org.