First, let’s look at the trend. The last Q-Poll had Republican Ed Gillespie trailing Ralph Northam by 11 points. This poll has Gillespie trimming that lead to 8.
Next, the sample. I’m not a big fan of “unskewing” poll numbers, but it’s always worth looking at the split. This particular poll is 24% Republican, 32% Democrat, 37% Independent. Remember that Virginia voters self-identify with no party registration. There are fewer Democrats and more independents in this round, which boosted Gillespie.
The biggest possible takeaway after the bruising primary is that both sides appear to have unified their parties, with Gillespie edging Northam among independents:
Gillespie leads 91 – 4 percent among Republicans while Northam takes Democrats 94 – 1 percent. Independent voters are divided with 40 percent for Gillespie and 38 percent for Northam.
Considering the absolutely vicious campaign run against Gillespie, the fact that he’s pulling 91% of GOP voters is stunning, and a good omen for November. Another good omen?
By a narrow 42 – 38 percent, Virginia voters say Gillespie would do a better job handling the economy.
The economy is (understandably) the number one issue with Virginia voters, and Gillespie has an opportunity to build his lead on the issue going forward.
The results are pretty clear. Virginia Democrats need to turn out at a 3-2 margin over Virginia Republicans for Northam to succeed. With Gillespie winning independents (and winning them by 14 points on the issue of jobs), he has plenty of room to grow. Remember that polls placed Ed down double digits to Mark Warner in 2014, and that race ended up being a nailbiter.
Long story short? There’s work to be done, but Gillespie is in a strong position to close the gap and make this one hell of a race.