Gillespie Maintains Commanding Lead in GOP Race; Democrats in Dead Heat in Gubernatorial Race

The Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University released data earlier today showing Republican Ed Gillespie with a comfortable lead over his competition for the GOP nomination for governor; Democrat Lt. Governor Ralph Northam, who once was thought would be coronated, is in a neck-and-neck race with former Congressman Tom Perriello, in that contest.

The poll shows Perriello andNortham tied at 26 percent, even though Perriello joined the race just this past January. According to Wason, “Northam’s share of the vote has not changed since the Wason Center poll released on Feb. 2, while Perriello has gained 11 points.”

However, not all Democrats are thrilled with the turn of events.

“.. Here’s Perrriello running in a Democratic Primary, okay, all of the sudden he’s doing mea culpa, okay, on guns, abortion, the environment, you name it, I mean this guy, I mean, he – more flip flops than anybody I’ve ever seen and the public’s not going to buy that,” said State Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw in a recent appearance on The John Fredericks Show.

“Just a few months ago, nobody expected that the real action in this primary would be on the Democratic side, but that’s where it is,” said Dr. Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center. “With Sanders voters tilting to Perriello and Clinton voters preferring Northam, the Democratic primary for governor looks to be a replay of last year’s presidential primary.”

For Gillespie, it seems like his path is fairly straightforward, sitting at 38 points, with a huge lead over Prince William County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart (11%) and Virginia Beach state Sen. Frank Wagner (10%).

“A Trump effect adds some uncertainty to the Republican contest,” said Dr. Rachel Bitecofer, assistant director. “Gillespie, the establishment favorite, is underperforming among voters who preferred Trump to all those insider Republicans last year. But Stewart and Wagner don’t seem to be picking them up, either.”

Stewart and Wagner were both Trump’s campaign co-chairs in Virginia at one point last year.

The Wason Center will have general election head-to-head matchup information out tomorrow.