Democrat Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam has kept his all-race-long lead over Republican Edward W. Gillespie as the two gubernatorial candidates sprint to the Nov. 7 finish line with Northam the choice of 48 percent of the voters compared to Gillespie’s 43 percent, according to the Big League-Gravis poll conducted Oct. 30 through Nov. 3 with 1,143 registered voters.
“The establishment pundits will make a bigger deal about this race then it is,” said Doug Kaplan, the managing partner of Gravis Marketing, the Florida-based company that executing the poll. The poll carries a 2.9 percent margin of error.
Libertarian Cliff Hydra is the choice of 3 percent of the voters with 6 percent of respondents undecided.
Northam, a pediatric neurologist, is the choice of 83 percent of black voters and 38 percent of white voters, while Gillespie is the choice of 10 percent of black voters and 54 percent of white voters.
Gillespie leads Northam with both Catholics, 52 percent v. 42 percent, and with Evangelical Christians, 73 percent v. 22 percent.
Fifty-one percent of men back Gillespie and 55 percent of women back Northam.
Kaplan said because the Virginia, New Jersey and New York City elections are held the year after a presidential election, there is the temptation to read greater meaning into results that are more often than not driven by local issues and circumstances.
Northam’s win will have no greater message regarding the future of President Donald J. Trump or his agenda, he said.
Thirty-seven percent of Virginia voters approve of the president’s job performance compared to 53 percent disapproving, he said.
“Many people still consider Virginia state a conservative state, but the state, or rather the commonwealth, has changed,” he said.
Former first lady Hillary R. Clinton won the state in 2016 by 6 percentage points and both its U.S. senators are Democrats, he said.
“Consider, too, that in an anti-establishment-era, the Republicans put up a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and lobbyist,” Kaplan said.
“The voters are smarter than politicians and their consultants give them credit,” he said. “The voters have picked up the conflicts that Gillespie is struggling with as he says he supports the president, but takes money from NeverTrumpers and is very careful to keep his distance from the president.”
The survey was conducted using interactive voice responses and an online panel of cell phones users. The results are weighted to match a proprietary voter turnout model.
Check out the crosstabs from the Oct. 30 to Nov. 3 Big League-Gravis Virginia poll: