A newly released poll by Monmouth University shows a tied race Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam in Virginia’s upcoming gubernatorial election.
The former Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia and the current Lieutenant Governor are polling neck and neck, with both candidates polling at 44 percent.
Cliff Hyra, the Libertarian candidate in the race, is polling at 3 percent, while 9 percent of those polled were undecided. Among Independent voters, Gillespie has the most support, holding 42 percent of the Independent vote while Northam has 38 percent.
While President Trump is not a top issue for Virginia voters, he does have an impact on the statewide election. Forty percent of voters say Trump is either “a major or minor factor” in determining who they will vote for in November.
“A small but crucial portion of Northam’s support is coming from voters who are primarily anti-Trump. Unless one of the candidates breaks out with a clear advantage on Virginia-centric issues, the president could wind up as a decisive factor in the outcome,” Patrick Murray, Director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute said.
President Trump lost in Virginia by five points in 2016. His approval rating in the Commonwealth is currently 37 percent, while 57 percent disapprove.
“National pundits like to paint Virginia gubernatorial races as referenda on whichever president was just elected and they are almost always wrong. 2017 may turn out to be the first time you can credibly draw a direct link between the Oval Office and the race for governor.”
In a debate held over the weekend between the two top candidates, Gillespie pointed out the focus of the election should be on Virginia, not in Washington.
Gillespie was asked his thoughts on the president’s ability to pardon, along with whether or not he would stand by the president if he chose to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.
“When the president is doing things good for Virginia, I’m going to work to makes sure things get done,” Gillespie said, referring to the creation of jobs to build the commissioned USS Gerald R. Ford in Norfolk. “I don’t agree with everything the president says or tweets, but my focus is on Virginia.”
Northam, on the other hand, has seemingly indicated that he would be less obliged to work with President Trump when it comes to Virginia’s needs.
“I believe our president is a dangerous man, I think he lacks empathy,” Northam said, saying he stands by his previous comments in which he called Trump a “narcissistic maniac.”
“What are you going to do as our governor?” Gillespie countered. “Call the White House and say, ‘Please put me through to the narcissistic maniac, we’ve got to get more of our ships and submarines built here in Virginia’?”
After the debate, the Republican Governor’s Association committed $2 million in additional funds to the Gillespie campaign.
The Virginia Gubernatorial election will be held on November 7th.