1997 Governor's Race

GILMORE LEADS BY 13 POINTS; PAYNE AND EARLEY ALSO AHEAD

A poll conducted by the Center for Community Research at Roanoke College shows Republican Attorney General Jim Gilmore stretching his lead over Don Beyer, the Democratic Lieutenant Governor to 13 points in the contest for the Governor’s mansion. Gilmore was the choice of 51 percent of the registered voters questioned, while Beyer was supported by 38 percent. Eleven percent remained undecided with just one week remaining until election day.

Democrat L.F. Payne held a slim five point lead (39%-34%) over Republican John Hager in the lieutenant governor’s race, and Republican Mark Earley led Democrat Bill Dolan by eight percent (42%-34%) in the election for attorney general. Those surveyed were almost evenly split when asked if they planned to vote for the Democratic candidate (40%) or the Republican candidate (42%) in their local House of Delegates election.

The Roanoke College Poll was conducted by telephone between October 22 and October 26 and interviewed 457 randomly selected registered voters. The Poll has a margin of error of plus or minus approximately 4.5 percent.

Support for Candidates for Governor
Beyer 38.2%
Gilmore 50.5%
Undecided 11.3%

Support for Candidates for Lieutenant Governor
Hager 34.4%
Payne 38.7%
Undecided 26.9%

Support for Candidates for Attorney General
Dolan 34.4%
Gilmore 41.8%
Undecided 23.8%

Issues In The Campaign
Those surveyed were most likely to mention education (34%) as the most important issue that will confront Virginia during the next governor’s term in office. The state’s economy (14%), crime (12%) and taxes (12%) were the next most frequently mentioned issues.

A plurality of respondents felt that Beyer was more likely to improve the quality of education in Virginia (37% compared to 33% for Gilmore), while they overwhelmingly picked Gilmore as the candidate most likely to cut the personal property tax (56% compared to 7% for Beyer). Fully two-thirds of those questioned favored cutting the so-called “car tax.”

Gilmore was favored by those who felt that the state’s economy (53%), crime (60%), or taxes (60%) will be the most important issue. Beyer’s level of support in each of those categories was lower (economy-35%; crime-28%; and taxes-28%). Those who felt education will be the most important to confront Virginia during the next governor’s term favored Gilmore (46%) only slightly over Beyer (44%).

And despite the fact that journalists and pundits have opined that candidate differences are few, the voters are likely to perceive many (27%) or at least some differences (46%) in the issue positions of the two candidates. Only 19% said there were just a few differences, and 6% felt there were no real differences in their positions.

Interest In The Campaign
A strong majority of those polled (71%) said they had paid at least some attention to the events of the campaign, while 21 percent had paid a great deal of attention. Only seven percent admitted they had paid no attention to the campaign.

And a majority (55%) felt that the elections outcome would be very important in determining how the state would handle what they perceived to be the most important problem. Only 15 percent felt the outcome was either not very important or not important at all.

Sources Of Candidate Support
There are few surprises in the sources of support for each candidate. Beyer was the choice of those who had not finished high school (39%) or had an advanced degree (54%), Blacks (58%), liberals (56%) and moderates (52%), northern Virginia residents (48%), and, of course, among Democrats (77%) and perhaps surprisingly, Independents (45%).

Gilmore led in all other demographic subgroups, but drew his strongest support from Republicans (89%) and conservatives (76%). He also did well among Catholics (64%) and self-described Christian Conservatives (62%), who comprised 29 percent of the sample. There is a small gender gap, but Gilmore leads among both men (54%) and women (47%).

Religion In The Campaign
Nearly two-thirds (66%) of those surveyed identified themselves as Protestants, while just 14 percent thought of themselves as Catholic. While Gilmore was the choice of a majority of Protestants (50%), his support was even stronger among Catholics (64%). Self-identified Christian Conservatives, who comprised 29 percent of the respondents, were more likely to support Gilmore (62%), one-fourth (25%) said they would vote for Beyer.

Gilmore

Beyer

Undecided

# of Cases

Protestant

50.2%

37.6%

12.2%

284

Catholic

64.2%

25.1%

10.7%

61

Christian Conservative

61.7%

24.9%

13.4%

133


Methodology
Interviewing for The Roanoke College Poll was conducted by The Center for Community

Research at Roanoke College in Salem, VA between October 22 and October 26. The sample consisted of 457 registered voters in Virginia. The sample of phone numbers was prepared by Survey Sampling Inc. of Fairfield, CT 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 457 registered voters are subject to a sampling error of plus or minus approximately 4.5 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 4.5 percentage points above or below the figure that would be obtained by interviewing all registered voters who have a telephone. Where the results of subgroups are reported, the sampling error is higher.

The data were weighted on sex to reflect the demographic composition of the likely Virginia electorate. We chose not to weight on race because we feel that African-American turnout will not match the percentage of African-Americans in the state. Support for Gilmore would be 1-2 percent lower if we had weighted for race.

Questions reported in this release were worded as follows: 1) If the election for Governor were being held today, and you had to decide right now, would you vote for Don Beyer, the Democrat or Jim Gilmore, the Republican?; 2) For lieutenant governor would you vote for John Hager, the Republican or L.F. Payne, the Democrat?; 3) For attorney general would you vote for Bill Dolan, the Democrat or Mark Earley, the Republican?; 4) What do you think will be the most important issue or problem facing Virginia in the next four years?; 5) How important do you think the gubernatorial election is in determining what Virginia will do regarding [most important issue]?; 6) How much attention have you paid to the events of the campaign?; 7) How many differences do you see between the issue positions of the two candidates for governor?; 8) Do you favor or oppose a plan to cut the state personal property tax on cars and trucks?; 9) Which candidate for governor do you think is most likely to cut the personal property tax?; 10) Which candidate for governor do you think is most likely to improve the quality of education in Virginia?; 11) Would you describe yourself as a Christian Conservative?

Gilmore

Beyer

Undecided

# of Cases

Total

50.5%

38.2%

11.3%

457

Party Identification

Democrat

12.1%

77.3%

10.6%

121

Republican

89.0%

5.5%

5.4%

166

Independent

39.4%

45.1%

15.5%

77

None

42.1%

41.6%

16.3%

72

Ideology

Liberal

34.8%

55.9%

9.3%

73

Moderate

37.0%

52.2%

10.7%

179

Conservative

75.5%

16.0%

8.6%

165

Race

White

53.6%

36.0%

10.3%

375

Black

25.4%

58.0%

16.7%

55

Region

Northern Virginia

45.6%

48.4%

5.9%

121

Tidewater

51.9%

38.5%

9.5%

105

Richmond

55.1%

38.3%

6.6%

45

Shenandoah Valley

55.7%

23.3%

21.0%

35

Southwest Virginia

41.4%

36.1%

22.5%

57

Southside

49.8%

32.1%

18.1%

59

Central Virginia

64.1%

32.8%

3.1%

26

Sex

Male

54.0%

35.4%

10.6%

225

Female

47.1%

40.8%

12.1%

231

Education

Less Than High School

35.7%

39.3%

25.0%

22

High School

58.5%

26.6%

15.0%

83

Some College

56.3%

32.8%

10.8%

107

College Degree

52.0%

40.6%

7.5%

128

Advanced Degree

38.8%

53.5%

7.7%

93

Gilmore

Beyer

Undecided

Total

Family Income

Less than $20,000

44.4%

37.7%

18.0%

48

$20,000-$35,000

44.6%

42.4%

13.0%

80

$35,000-$50,000

49.9%

40.0%

10.1%

95

$50,000 or more

57.4%

36.3%

6.3%

185

Age

18-34

51.9%

39.9%

8.2%

90

35-44

47.6%

44.8%

7.6%

94

45-54

46.5%

39.9%

13.6%

94

55 and older

53.5%

32.9%

13.6%

179