In a cycle where many political observers are saying a Republican cannot win in Virginia, Ed Gillespie is saying something different — watch me.
Despite a pretty unfriendly atmosphere for President Trump and an off-year electorate that’s widely believed to skew Democrat, two new surveys show a dead heat in the Commonwealth and Gillespie’s disciplined campaign keeping this thing close.
First, from Suffolk University, a straight-up tie result:
As the major party candidates in the Virginia governor’s race prepare for the Sept. 19 televised debate, a Suffolk University poll shows Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie tied, with 42 percent supporting or leaning toward each. Libertarian Clifford Hyra is at 3 percent, and 12 percent are undecided. These swing voters will play a critical role in November.
This survey also has a few other notable bits. By a 57-32 margin, Virginians want confederate statues to remain up. A vast majority also wants Hyra included in debates, which would be a nightmare for Ralph Northam, as Hyra is flanking to his left on the issue of pipelines. The only troubling result is support for a $15 minimum wage. That economy-wrecking proposal receives 50-44 support.
Next, from the University of Mary Washington — This survey doesn’t show a tie, but it does show a result within the survey’s margin of error:
Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and Republican nominee Ed Gillespie remain locked in a tight contest for governor of Virginia, with 44 percent of likely voters favoring Northam and 39 percent backing Gillespie in a new University of Mary Washington statewide survey.
The interesting side note from this poll regards potential party holdouts. Neither candidate has many, with each of them receiving 91% support from their respective parties. That should quiet down any chatter about former Corey Stewart voters having issues pulling the lever for Gillespie, and also shows that the pipeline issue is survivable for Northam, at least so far.
The UMW poll also asked voters about the downticket races, and the results effectively mirrored the gubernatorial contest, with Democrat Attorney General Mark Herring running about 2 points ahead of the curve.
Needless to say, it’s all going to come down to the last two months in the Commonwealth.