2001 Virginia Governor's Race

WARNER HOLDS COMFORTABLE LEAD OVER EARLEY IN RACE FOR GOVERNOR; LT GOVERNOR CONTEST TIGHT; MCEACHIN TRAILS KILGORE

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mark Warner has opened a nine-point lead (45%-36%) over Republican Mark Earley according to a poll conducted by The Center for Community Research at Roanoke College. The Poll also found that the Lieutenant Governor’s race is a virtual dead heat with Tim Kaine (D) holding a statistically insignificant one-point lead over Jay Katzen (R) (32%-31%), while Jerry Kilgore (R) enjoyed an 11-point lead (40%-29%) over Don McEachin (D) in the race for Attorney General.

The Poll includes interviews conducted with 423 likely voters (registered voters who said they were likely to vote) in the Old Dominion between October 21 and October 30 2001. The Poll has a margin of error of 4.8 percent.

The percentage of undecided voters remains very high this late in the campaign. Nearly one in five (18%) likely voters have yet to make a decision in the contest for Governor. Even higher percentages remain undecided in the Lieutenant Governor’s race (35%) and in the contest for Attorney General (31%). The preferences of those who have made a choice have solidified in that 81% of Warner supporters and 79% of Earley supporters say it is very certain they will vote for their candidate.

Applying a more restrictive definition of likely voter (registered, self-reported “very likely” to vote, and voted in 2000) increases the Warner lead to 50%-38% (N=333), with a 5.4% margin of error. This sample of likely voters reported having voted for President Bush by a 57%-35% margin over Al Gore in 2000.

Sources of Support
The gender gap that has been prevalent in both national and statewide elections has all but disappeared in this campaign. Women favor Warner over Earley (47%-35%) but by just a few points more than men (44%-37%). In fact, Warner leads among virtually all demographic subgroups. Of greatest importance, he leads among self-described political moderates (57%-24%) and among Independents (49%-27%). Warner even holds a small advantage among Whites (42%-39%). Warner leads among every age group and in every region of the state, except for Central Virginia, where Earley leads and the Shenandoah Valley, which is tied.

Earley leads only among Republicans, Conservatives (although 21% plan to vote for Warner), those with a high school education and those with annual family incomes between $35,000 and $50,000.

Issues in the Campaign
Taxes and Education were identified as the most important issues in the Governor’s race by 19% and 17% of the respondents, respectively. A candidate’s character (13%) and political party affiliation (12%) were the other issues mentioned as most important by more than 10%. Transportation (2%) and security/terrorism (1%) barely registered as the most important issue.

Voters are following the leads of the candidates with regard to the issues. Respondents who thought education was most important favored Warner (74%-17%), while those who felt taxes were the primary issue supported Earley (59%-31%). The few likely voters who named transportation as most important favored Warner by 4-1. Warner also lead (50%-35%) who thought moral values and character were paramount, and he even led 6-5 among those who said abortion was the most important issue.

Attention to the Campaign
Fully one-third (34%) of the likely voters said they had paid not very much or no attention at all to the campaign thus far. Many of those who said they were undecided in their candidate choice also reported that they had not been attentive to the campaign. This figure is double that obtained in a survey conducted during the Presidential/U. S. Senate campaign last year.

Still, 62% of the respondents said that government impacts their daily life a great deal. Only 7% said the impact was not much or none. More than half said they can trust government to do what is right just about always (13%) or most of the time (44%).

Analysis
“These results should make Mark Warner very happy,” according to Harry Wilson, the Center’s director. “His lead is substantial and it runs through all segments of the population.”

Warner’s only concern at this point might be the high percentage of undecided voters. It’s quite possible that many of those will not vote because many of them have paid little attention to the campaign thus far, and there’s not much time left. Mark Earley’s only advantage seems to be on the tax issue, and he’s hammered away at that as much as is humanly possible.”

Jerry Kilgore’s lead also appears to be nearly insurmountable at this point,” Wilson concluded. “Warner’s attempts to distance himself from the rest of the ticket have probably hurt Don McEachin.“

The real contest is for lieutenant governor. It is a statistical dead heat, and it shows the highest percentage of undecided voters. Tim Kaine may benefit from Mark Warner’s coattails, while Jay Katzen has to be hoping those coattails are non-existent.”

Methodology
Interviewing for The Roanoke College Poll was conducted by The Center for Community Research at Roanoke College in Salem, Va. between October 21 and October 30, 2001. The sample consisted of 423 likely voters in Virginia. The sample of phone numbers was prepared by Survey Sampling Inc. of Fairfield, CT and was created so that all residential phone telephone numbers, including unlisted numbers, had a known chance of inclusion.

Questions answered by the entire sample of 423 registered voters are subject to a sampling error of plus or minus approximately 4.8 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 4.8 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.

A copy of the questionnaire will be provided upon request.

Warner

Earley

Redpath

Undecided

# of Cases

Total

45%

36%

1%

18%

423

Sex

Male

44%

37%

2%

17%

201

Female

47%

35%

1%

17%

211

Race

White

42%

39%

1%

17%

343

African-Amer.

68%

11%

0%

21%

44

Party ID

Democrat

87%

3%

1%

9%

122

Republican

9%

76%

0%

15%

144

Independent

49%

27%

3%

22%

78

Ideology

Liberal

80%

4%

1%

15%

69

Moderate

57%

24%

2%

17%

149

Conservative

21%

63%

0%

16%

163

Age

18-29

43%

37%

2%

18%

60

30-44

41%

39%

0%

20%

116

45-59

48%

34%

2%

15%

128

60-older

47%

35%

0%

19%

101

Region

North VA

48%

33%

3%

16%

81

Tidewater

42%

36%

0%

22%

94

Richmond

49%

29%

3%

20%

35

Shen. Valley

44%

44%

0%

12%

25

Southwest VA

51%

33%

2%

14%

49

Southside

46%

37%

0%

17%

54

Central

38%

48%

0%

14%

29

Income

<$20,000

46%

11%

0%

43%

28

$20-35,000

54%

26%

4%

16%

57

$35-50,000

39%

46%

0%

15%

78

$50-75,000

42%

38%

2%

17%

92

$75-100,000

46%

37%

0%

17%

52

>$100,000

46%

42%

0%

12%

69