McAuliffe has significant lead among Dems in latest poll
Wason Center poll also shows Del. Sam Rasoul leads lt. gov. race but 64% undecided
In a poll released Thursday, 47% of Virginia Democratic voters surveyed are backing former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s primary bid for his party’s gubernatorial nomination, according to data from Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center for Public Leadership. Two months ago, McAuliffe had 26% of the vote in another Wason Center poll.
With six weeks until the party’s June 8 primary, McAuliffe, who has consistently led earlier polls and fundraising, is well ahead of the other candidates seeking the Virginia Democratic Party’s nomination for governor. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is in second place with 8%, followed by state Sen. Jennifer McClellan at 6%, former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy at 5% and Del. Lee Carter at 1%. According to the poll, 27% of voters are undecided.
In the crowded primary race for lieutenant governor, Del. Sam Rasoul leads with 12% — but 64% of voters surveyed say they are undecided. The rest of the field have no more than 2% support, except for Del. Elizabeth Guzman, who had 4% but has since dropped out of the race.
Mark Herring, who is running for his third term as attorney general, leads at 42%, followed by challenger Del. Jay Jones, who has 18% of the vote, although he has raised nearly as much money as Herring and has been backed by Gov. Ralph Northam and music superstar Pharrell Williams, who tweeted Jones’ first television ad this week. Jones’ support has grown from 3% in February’s poll, the Wason Center said. According to the April poll, 34% of Democratic voters are undecided on the attorney general race.
Asked if they are excited about the primary, which will determine the Democratic candidates for the November ballot, 40% of people polled said they are “very enthusiastic,” and 43% said “somewhat enthusiastic.”
With $8.5 million on hand as of March 31, McAuliffe, who is seeking a second, nonconsecutive term as governor, leads Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates in fundraising. He enjoys strong name recognition and has a 56% favorable rating among those polled April 11-20. Fairfax, who has raised the least money of the five major Democratic gubernatorial candidates ($99,204 as of March 31), has a 27% favorable rating and a 26% unfavorable rating. In 2019, two women accused Fairfax of sexual assault in 2000 and 2004, accusations Fairfax has continually denied but also continually raises in public — even bringing up the matter at the candidates’ first debate last month.
“Name recognition is a big head start, but it’s better when voters’ impression is mostly favorable,” Wason Center Academic Director Quentin Kidd said in a statement.
As for the rest of the field, most voters are not familiar with them, with more than 70% saying they have “no opinion” of McClellan or Carroll Foy — either of whom would be the first Black woman to receive the party’s nomination for governor — or Carter, the House of Delegates’ only Democratic Socialist member, who was unfamiliar to 86% of those surveyed.
“This gubernatorial field is the most diverse in the history of the commonwealth, and that has drawn a great deal of interest in the race,” Wason Center Research Director Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo said in a statement.
The Republican candidates will be decided via convention May 8.