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The Daily 202: New Virginia poll shows why Gillespie is fighting the culture wars. It's all about the base.

Posted on Oct 06,2017
Filed Under Local Politics , Politics,

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie talks with a group of recovering addicts in Richmond, Va. (Steve Helber/AP)

By James Hohmann

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: The Virginia governor’s race is a base election, and Ed Gillespie has a problem with his base.

This is a key reason the Republican nominee is trailing Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) by 13 points among likely voters in a new Washington Post-Schar School poll.

The need to consolidate conservative support also explains why the former chairman of the Republican National Committee has waded so aggressively into divisive culture wars and embraced wedge issues that he once eschewed, specifically immigration and Confederate monuments.

Among likely voters, 97 percent of Democrats support Northam while 89 percent of Republicans back Gillespie. (Among independents, 47 percent back Northam while 40 percent support Gillespie.)

Health care, the economy and education are the issues that most Virginians care about in their choice for governor. But 10 percent of registered voters say illegal immigration is the biggest factor in deciding who to vote for, and another 3 percent say Confederate monuments are what they care about most. Gillespie is fighting hard for those 13 percent.

The Post-Schar School poll finds that 57 percent of registered voters think Confederate monuments should be kept on government property, while 31 percent want them removed. Among all white voters, 67 percent want them to stay. Among Republican registered voters, an overwhelming 89 percent want to keep Confederate statues on government property.

Gillespie also wants to ban abortion, with exceptions for incest, rape and to save a pregnant woman’s life. While 55 percent of Virginian registered voters oppose such a ban, 57 percent of Republican voters support it.


-- Even as he struggles to galvanize Trump supporters, the president’s unpopularity poses a problem for Gillespie.

“Roughly 6 in 10 Virginia likely voters disapprove of his performance as president, and more than 8 in 10 Trump detractors support Northam,” Gregory S. Schneider and Scott Clement write in a story about the new poll. “But in a positive sign for Gillespie, just over half of all likely voters say Trump is not a factor in their choice. Some 17 percent of voters say they plan to vote to send a message of support for Trump, while 30 percent say they are voting to express disapproval.

“Nearly 7 in 10 likely voters said they feel that Gillespie supports Trump … While Trump is unpopular in Virginia — the only Southern state to vote for Hillary Clinton last fall — most Republican likely voters — 82 percent — approve of Trump’s job performance. Gillespie cannot afford to alienate them.”

Source Washington post

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