Roanoke College

1994 U.S. Senate Race

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ROBB LEADS NORTH BY FOUR POINTS; TWELVE PERCENT STILL UNDECIDED

A poll conducted by the Center for Community Research at Roanoke College shows Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Chuck Robb with a four point lead over Republican challenger Oliver North. Robb was the choice of 39 percent of the definite voters questioned, while North was supported by 35 percent. Independent Marshall Coleman still trailed with 14 percent, and 12 percent remain undecided 10 days before the election. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of those who were undecided were truly uncommitted; 18 percent were leaning toward Robb, 7 percent toward North, and 6 percent toward Coleman.

The Roanoke College Poll was conducted by telephone between October 27 and October 30 and interviewed 580 randomly selected registered voters who said would definitely vote in the upcoming U.S. Senate election. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus approximately four percent.

Strength of Preference
Voters who currently support one of the candidates are becoming more certain of their voting decision. Eighty-seven percent of North's supporters and 85 percent of Robb's supporters are now certain of their choice.

Only 72 percent of Coleman's backers are certain of their decision. The uncertain Coleman supporters are more likely to switch to Robb (40%) than North (28%). Likewise, if Coleman withdrew from the race, 38 percent of his supporters would move to Robb, while 24 percent would vote for North.

Rating the Candidates
The two leading candidates remain relatively unpopular in the eyes of the voters. Half of the voters (50%) have a generally unfavorable impression of North, and 43 percent have an unfavorable impression of Robb. Coleman's unfavorable rating is by far the lowest at 18 percent. Forty-five percent of the respondents have a generally favorable view of Robb, 41 percent have a favorable view of Coleman, and 39 percent have a favorable view of North.

The Issueless Campaign
The Senate campaign has been described by many as issueless, and this is to some extent reflected in voters' responses. Fully one-fourth (25%) were unable to name the overriding issue in the campaign.

The candidates' character was named the most important issue by 22 percent of the voters, while 12 percent felt the economy was most important. No other single issue was named by more even 10 percent of those surveyed. General distrust of the government in Washington was the most important issue for eight percent, followed by crime (7%), and abortion (7%). The loss of values in society, health care and education were all named by five percent, while gun control (3%) and President Clinton (1%) barely registered.

Coleman supporters (23%) and Robb supporters (26%) were primarily concerned with the character issue. North's supporters were more interested in the economy (20%), but they were also concerned with character (16%) and problems with Washington (11%).

North's backers were least likely to name crime as the most important issue (North-5%; Robb-10%; Coleman-12%). Abortion and health care did not seem to favor any candidate.

Methodology
Interviewing for the Center for Community Research Poll was conducted at Roanoke College in Salem, Va., between October 27 and October 30. The sample consisted of 580 residents of Virginia over the age of 18 who said they were registered to vote and "definitely" would vote in the election. The sample of telephone numbers was prepared by Survey Sampling Inc. of Fairfield, Conn., and was created so that all residential telephone numbers, including unlisted numbers, had a known chance of inclusion.

Questions answered by the entire sample of 580 definite voters are subject to a sampling error of plus or minus approximately 4 percent at the 95 percent level of confidence. This means that in 95 out of 100 samples like the one used here, the results obtained should be no more than 4 percentage points above or below the figure that would be obtained by interviewing all definite voters with a telephone. Where the result of subgroups are reported, the sampling error is higher.

Questions reported in this release were worded as follows: 1) If the election for Senate were being held today and you had to decide right now, which candidate would you vote for... Marshall Coleman, Oliver North or Chuck Robb?; 2) Are you certain you will vote for him or do you think you might change your mind?; 3) If you changed your mind, which of the other candidates would you most likely vote for?; 4) If Coleman withdrew from the race, who would you most likely vote for?; 5) Toward which candidate are you leaning right now?; 6) Are you certain you will vote for him, or do you think you might change your mind?; 7) For the following people please tell me if your OVERALL impression of them is favorable or unfavorable or if you don't know enough about them to form an opinion - Marshall Coleman; Oliver North; Chuck Robb; 8) What is the one issue that is most important to you personally in this campaign?

North

Robb

Coleman

Undecided

# of Cases

Total

35.1

38.8

13.8

11.7

580

Certain of Decision

87%

85%

72%

-

298

Undecided, Leaning to

7%

18%

6%

64%

282

Party ID

Democrat

12.2

69.8

8.1

9.9

193

Leaning Democrat

26.1

69.1

4.8

0.0

21

Republican

63.1

9.1

19.5

6.5

172

Leaning Republican

38.2

21.4

30.1

10.4

40

Independent

24.7

56.8

11.4

7.1

38

Age

18-24

31.5

42.2

20.1

6.2

44

25-39

46.2

32.2

11.7

9.2

166

40-54

28.0

45.3

16.9

8.8

165

55 or Older

32.7

37.9

11.5

17.4

203

Race

White

40.7

32.4

15.5

10.8

463

Black

8.8

73.9

1.9

15.3

91


North

Robb

Coleman

Undecided

# of Cases

Region

Northern Virginia

35.9

40.3

13.0

8.9

112

Tidewater

33.4

47.4

13.0

8.9

112

Richmond

29.5

48.7

8.1

13.6

56

Shenandoah Valley

42.5

19.4

19.6

18.5

41

Southwest VA

37.2

31.8

17.1

13.9

91

Southside

29.1

42.8

11.9

15.6

102

Central VA

47.8

18.0

25.2

8.9

35

Family Income

Less than $20,000

37.3

38.7

1.9

22.2

85

$20,000-$35,000

28.2

46.0

14.5

11.3

156

$35,000-$50,000

44.2

34.9

12.0

7.6

120

$50,000 or more

37.6

34.6

19.3

7.3

157

Education

Less than High School

32.0

37.7

6.2

24.1

102

High School

37.8

39.1

13.5

9.7

171

Some College

28.1

44.4

17.7

8.4

144

College Degree

28.1

44.4

17.7

8.4

144

ClintonApproval

Approve

25.0

76.1

35.0

38.0

276

Disapprove

67.1

12.9

53.0

57.8

251