Support for McAuliffe grows ahead of June 8 primary, poll finds

Capitol Connection

Democratic candidate for Governor of Virginia former Gov., Terry McAuliffe gestures during a debate at Virginia State University in Petersburg, Va., Tuesday, April 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Terry McAuliffe appears to be living up to the frontrunner status bestowed upon him ahead of the June 8 primary, as nearly half of the voters surveyed for a new poll saying they prefer him over the other Democratic candidates running for governor. 

The Wason Center for Civic Leadership at Christopher Newport University conducted the survey through phone interviews from April 11-20, asking 806 registered voters who indicated they were planning on voting during the primary about their views on the candidates on the ballot. 

According to the poll, 47% of voters said they would pick McAuliffe, the former Virginia governor, if the primary were today. Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax received 8%, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) got 6%, former state delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy received 5% and Del. Lee Carter got just 1% of the vote.

“Name recognition is a big head start, but it’s better when voters’ impression is mostly favorable,” Dr. Quentin Kidd, Wason Center’s academic director, said in a statement.

More than half of the voters polled said they have a favorable opinion of McAuliffe (56%), with 28% of voters indicating no opinion and 14% sharing an unfavorable rating.

Unlike the Republican convention on May 8, the primary in June will be open to all voters across the commonwealth. Among the group surveyed, 42% identified as “moderate” and 34% as “liberal” and 64% consider themselves Democrats.

These survey results come six weeks before Democratic nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general are selected in June, and two months after a similar poll from the Wason Center.

That poll, which also looked at Republican candidates, found McAuliffe had 26% support of more than 1,000 registered voters when asked about the Democratic field. I also found that 49% of those surveyed were still undecided about who they would vote for. 

The poll released Thursday found that 27% of voters remain undecided on which Democratic candidate for governor they support. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

Early voting for the primary begins April 23.

Update: The Wason Center corrected two errors — one that misstated the dates when the survey was conducted and another that showed 64% of those polled were Republicans. The story has been updated with the correct information.

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