Roanoke College's Center for Community Research Conducts Voter Poll

Conducted by The Center for Community Research
Roanoke College

For Immediate Release:  November 1, 2005
Contact:  Dr. Harry L. Wilson, Director
(540) 375-2415 (Office) / (540) 992-1333 (Home)


Democratic gubernatorial nominee Tim Kaine has opened an eight-point lead (44%-36%) over Republican nominee Jerry Kilgore according to a poll conducted by The Center for Community Research at Roanoke College.  Independent candidate Russ Potts garnered the support of five percent of those surveyed.  The Poll also found that the Lieutenant Governor’s race is a virtual dead heat with Leslie Byrne (D) holding a statistically insignificant one-point lead over Bill Bolling (R) (33%-32%), while Robert McDonnell (R) enjoyed an five-point lead (39%-34%) over Creigh Deeds (D) in the race for Attorney General.

The Poll includes interviews conducted with 407 likely voters (registered voters who said they were likely to vote) in the Old Dominion between October 23 and October 30. The Poll has a margin of error of + 5 percent. 

The percentage of undecided voters remains very high this late in the campaign—14% of likely voters have yet to make a decision in the contest for Governor.  Even higher percentages remain undecided in the Lieutenant Governor’s race (33%) and in the contest for Attorney General (26%).  Among undecided voters, 84% of Kaine supporters and 82% of Kilgore supporters say it is very likely that they will vote for their candidate.  Only 26% of the respondents have paid a great deal of attention to the campaign, and 48% reported having paid some attention. 

Applying a more restrictive definition of likely voter (registered, self-reported “very likely” to vote, and voted in 2004) increases the Kaine lead to 48%-38% (N=308), with a 5.6% margin of error.  The lead for Byrne over Bolling (35%-34%) remains at one percent, and McDonnell’s margin over Deeds is also unchanged (40%-35%) at five percent with the more restrictive definition of likely voters.

Who is Undecided

Almost two-thirds (65%) of those who are undecided said they are very likely to vote, and a similar percentage (65%) are women.  Forty-two percent have paid little or no attention to the campaign.  A majority (58%) reported voting for George W. Bush in 2004 and Mark Warner in 2001 (53%).  Almost two-thirds (65%) approve of the job done by Mark Warner as Governor, and 40% approve of the job done by George W. Bush as President. 

Undecided voters are more likely to be Moderate (41%) and Independent (28%).  Conservatives comprise 31% of those who are undecided, while Republicans are 20% of that total.  Liberals (13%) and Democrats (16%) account for fewer of those who have yet to make up their mind.

Sources of Support

Kaine leads among virtually all demographic subgroups.  Of greatest importance, he leads among self-described political Moderates (62%-17%) and among Independents (37%-18%).  Kaine and Kilgore split the white vote, but Kaine leads heavily among African-Americans.  Kaine leads in every age group, and his largest lead is among those 60 or older (50%-33%).  He also enjoys large leads in Northern Virginia (52%-29%) and Tidewater (45%-32%), has a small lead in the Shenandoah Valley, and is tied in Southside and Southwest Virginia.  Kilgore leads in Central Virginia. 

Kilgore leads only among Republicans, Conservatives, those who have earned a bachelor’s degree, and respondents with annual family incomes between $35,000 and $50,000 and between $75,000 and $100,000. Kaine leads among those with an income over $100,000.

Issues in the Campaign

Character/moral values, taxes and education were identified as the most important issues in the governor’s race by 17%, 15% and 13% of the respondents, respectively.  No other specific issue was mentioned as most important by more than 10%.  Transportation was named by seven percent of the respondents.

Kilgore has an advantage (44%-38%) among those who identified character/moral values as the most important issue.  Respondents who thought education was most important favored Kaine (62%-18%), while those who felt taxes were the primary issue supported Kilgore (47%-30%).  The relatively few likely voters who named transportation as most important favored Kaine by   13-5. 

Respondents were offered several alternatives with regard to two of the major issues in the campaign—transportation and taxes.  A plurality (48%) said that the $1.5 billion tax package passed in 2004 was necessary to improve services, while just over a third (36%) said government should find other ways to improve services.  As expected, those who supported the tax package support Kaine (58%-20%), while those who opposed it prefer Kilgore (55%-29%).  Four choices were offered on road improvements—shifting funds from other areas to fund road improvements (25%), improving highways as current funds allow (22%), toll roads (21%), and raising taxes earmarked for highways (21%).  Those who prefer taxes or tolls are about twice as likely to support Kaine; those who prefer to shift funds support Kilgore by 51%-30%; and those who want to improve roads as funds allow are evenly split. 

Warner and Bush

Governor Mark Warner remains very popular in the Commonwealth, with an overall approval rating of 72%.  At the same time, President George W. Bush’s overall approval rating is 38%.  Kaine does significantly better than Kilgore (51%-30%) among those who approve of the job Warner is doing as Governor.  Kilgore fares even better among those who approve of Bush (65%-18%). 


“These results indicate the Kaine campaign is gaining momentum,” said Dr. Harry Wilson, the director of the Center for Community Research.  “His lead is substantial and it runs through all segments of the population.  Recent polls have shown him gaining support.” 

“Kaine’s major concern at this point should be the high percentage of undecided voters,” Wilson said. “It is quite possible that many of those will not vote because they have paid little attention to the campaign thus far, and there’s not much time left.  Jerry Kilgore’s only advantage seems to be on the tax issue, and he’s hammered away at that as much as is humanly possible.”

“The down-ticket races remain very close,” Wilson said. “In the lieutenant governor’s race, Byrne’s lead is insignificant.  It is a statistical dead heat, and it shows the highest percentage of undecided voters.  At this point, Bob McDonnell is the bright spot for Republicans, although his lead over Creigh Deeds for attorney general is within the poll’s margin of error, and one-fourth of the likely voters are still undecided.”

“In many ways these poll results are remarkably similar to those from a poll taken at the same time in the 2001 gubernatorial race,” Wilson said. “The strengths and weaknesses of Tim Kaine are similar to those of Mark Warner, and those of Jerry Kilgore largely mirror those of Mark Earley.  Important differences are that Kaine can ride the coattails of a very popular Democratic governor, and Kilgore may be hurt by President Bush’s low approval rating.”


Interviewing for The Roanoke College Poll was conducted by The Center for Community Research at Roanoke College in Salem, VA between October 23 and October 30, 2005.  The sample consisted of 407 likely voters in Virginia.  The sample of phone numbers was prepared by Survey Sampling Inc. of Fairfield, Conn. 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 407 registered voters are subject to a sampling error of plus or minus approximately 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 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.

A copy of the questionnaire will be provided upon request.

Kaine Kilgore Potts Undecided # of Cases
Total 44% 36% 5% 14% 407
  Male 43% 41% 6% 10% 196
  Female 44% 33% 4% 17% 212
 White 41% 41% 5% 13% 328
 African-Amer. 73% 8% 3% 15% 40
 Other 36% 29% 11% 21% 28
Party ID     
  Democrat 87% 4% 2% 7% 135
  Republican 12% 76% 4% 8% 139
  Independent 37% 18% 18% 26% 57
  Liberal 72% 10% 8% 10% 67
  Moderate 62% 17% 6% 14% 156
  Conservative 13% 72% 2% 12% 145
  18-29 38% 24% 14% 24% 29
  30-44 40% 38% 5% 16% 106
  45-59 45% 39% 3% 12% 148
  60-older 50% 33% 5% 11% 107
  North VA 52% 29% 5% 11% 93
  Tidewater 45% 32% 6% 18% 85
  Shen. Valley 43% 38% 4% 13% 47
  Southwest VA 39% 39% 5% 17% 59
  Southside 42% 42% 5% 12%  43
  Central 38% 45% 4% 13% 56
 HS or less 38% 37% 7% 19% 90
 Associate’s 45% 31% 6% 18% 114
 Bachelor’s 42% 47% 1% 7% 97
 Grad degree 50% 33% 6% 9% 86