RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Despite an apparent advantage for a few candidates, most voters in Virginia are undecided on statewide races and believe they don’t know enough about those seeking office, a poll released Friday shows.
The survey, from the Wason Center for Civic Leadership at Christopher Newport University, comes months before nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general are selected.
Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is favored over the other candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for governor, with 26% of registered voters saying they would vote for McAuliffe if the June primary were held today.
“I don’t pay any attention to polls,” McAuliffe said in an interview Friday. “I do pay attention to big policy ideas and I had some options as you know, but folks came to recruit me. Like Louise Lucas, Senate Pro Tempore, the most powerful African-American woman in the state said, ‘Terry, we need you back because you did it before, but we need it to the next level.'”
Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax received 12% and state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) and former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy got 4% each. While McAuliffe appears to have an early lead, nearly half of those surveyed reported being undecided.
“In terms of race, gender, and ideology, Virginia Democrats will be choosing from the most diverse field of gubernatorial candidates ever seen in the Commonwealth,” an analysis released with the poll said. “Four months from the June 8 primary, many of these candidates are largely unknown to voters, nearly half of whom say they are undecided (49%).”
Seventeen percent of voters said they would support state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) for governor. On Friday, a Richmond judge rejected Chase’s effort to force a primary instead of a nominating convention. Former GOP speaker, Del. Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), trails Chase by 7%, according to the survey.
Similar to the Democratic field, the enthusiasm for one candidate is not strong as 55% of voters said they were undecided on the GOP nominee.
Conducted through phone interviews from Jan. 31 to Feb. 14, the poll asked 1,005 registered voters in Virginia about their thoughts on candidates and how they are leaning ahead of statewide nominating contests. Forty-nine percent of those asked said they leaned Democrat while 37% reported being Republican-leaning and 15% said they leaned independent.
The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.