Wason Center Polling is Terrible News for State Senate Republicans

The Wason Center at Christopher Newport University just dropped a poll that declares the battle for the State Senate all but over. What it says about the House of Delegates is much more murky.

Wason/CNU polled “voters in four competitive Virginia Senate races: SD 7 (Virginia Beach/Norfolk); SD 10 (Chesterfield/Richmond); SD 12 (Henrico/Hanover); and SD 13 (Loudoun/Prince William).” All four are currently Republican defenses. Based on the polling numbers, none of them are likely to stay that way.

Among likely voters in those districts, Democrats lead Republicans by 14 points on the generic ballot, 51% to 37%. And by 13 points (51% to 38%), those voters prefer that Democrats control the General Assembly after the Nov. 5 election. These advantages increase under our most stringent likely voter model, increasing to 17 points for both questions (53% to 36%).

To be clear, a composite survey of four districts does not give us results from each of them individually. There will be variances. However, a 14-17 point gap is unlikely to be covered in any of those by said variances, especially given that two are open seats (7 and 13) and two have incumbents that were elected for their first term in 2015 (10 and 12).

What does it mean for the House of Delegates? That’s a different puzzle.

For starters, there is the matter of the maps. As Stephen Spiker noted – with a bit of hyperbole, in my view, but not without merit – the State Senate lines were drawn by the Democrats who ran the chamber at the time. The House of Delegates map – even with the court-ordered partial redraw of last spring – is still more GOP-friendly. Moreover, the State Senate districts from which this poll was taken do not correspond with the key turnover targets for Democrats (including the 40th, 66th, 76th, and 94th).

So for those wondering who will be the next Speaker of the House, all the poll does is hint that the Republicans are in trouble. For those wondering about the next Senate Majority Leader, this all but screams that it won’t be Tommy Norment.

Then again, we won’t actually know until the votes are cast and counted.