Signs for President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden stand outside the Fairfax County Government Center, an early-voting site. Polling shows likely voters in Virginia favoring Biden over Trump. (Alexander Drago/Reuters)

RICHMOND — Former vice president Joe Biden leads President Trump 52 percent to 41 percent among likely Virginia voters, according to a new Washington Post-Schar School poll — roughly double Hillary Clinton’s margin of victory in the state in 2016.

Biden’s advantage cuts across most demographic groups, with regional strength in the Northern Virginia suburbs and the Richmond area.

Even many of the bright spots for Trump are dimmer this time around. The president’s 10 percentage-point lead in the solidly red southwest portion of the state is down from the 33-point advantage he held there over Clinton in 2016. White women are split almost evenly between Trump and Biden; four years ago, exit polls showed they favored Trump by 13 points.

And one of Trump’s strongest groups — White men — favor him by 21 points, compared with 36 points in his race against Clinton.

VA

Washington Post-Schar School Poll

Biden leads Trump by a wide

margin in Virginia

Q: If the presidential election were being held today, for whom would you vote? Would you lean toward…

Among likely voters

Biden/ Harris 52%

Error margin

Trump/ Pence 41%

Note: Support for Jorgensen, “Other,” “None,”

“Would not vote” and “No opinion” not shown.

Source: Oct. 13-19, 2020, Washington Post-Schar School poll among 908 Virginia likely voters with an error margin of +/- 4 percentage points.

Virginia

Washington Post-Schar School Poll

Biden leads Trump by a wide margin in Virginia

Q: If the presidential election were being held today, for whom

would you vote? Would you lean toward…

Among likely voters

Biden/Harris 52%

Error margin

Trump/Pence 41%

Note: Support for Jorgensen, “Other,” “None,” “Would not vote” and

“No opinion” not shown.

Source: Oct. 13-19, 2020, Washington Post-Schar School poll among 908

Virginia likely voters with an error margin of +/- 4 percentage points.

Washington Post-Schar School Poll

Virginia

Biden leads Trump by a wide margin in Virginia

Q: If the presidential election were being held today, for whom would you vote?

Would you lean toward…

Among likely voters

Biden/Harris 52%

Error margin

Trump/Pence 41%

Note: Support for Jorgensen, “Other,” “None,” “Would not vote” and “No opinion” not shown.

Source: Oct. 13-19, 2020, Washington Post-Schar School poll among 908 Virginia likely voters

with an error margin of +/- 4 percentage points.

Virginia voters are roughly split on which candidate can better manage the economy, but Biden holds an 18-point lead on trust to handle the coronavirus outbreak, 54 percent to 36 percent.

“It looks like Biden is running away with it,” said Mark Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, adding that the Democrat’s strength in this former swing state could be a harbinger of the national race.

“If Biden can win by double digits in Virginia, I think this election is over,” Rozell said.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner outperforms the top of the ticket, with likely voters favoring him 57 percent to 39 percent over Republican challenger Daniel Gade. Warner’s bigger margin than Biden’s owes principally to his 25-point lead with political independents, more than twice as large as Biden’s 11-point edge with this group.

When asked about congressional races, 50 percent of likely voters say they prefer the Democratic candidate in their district, while 42 percent prefer the Republican. In three competitive congressional districts — the 2nd, 5th and 7th — the split is closer, at 50 percent for Democrats and 45 percent for Republicans, which is not statistically significant, given the four-percentage-point margin of sampling error that applies to each party’s support.

But until recently, all three of those districts were solidly Republican.

Suburban swing voter Susan Cortese mostly favors Democrats but has been open to Republican candidates at times. Socially liberal but fiscally moderate, Cortese said she has become increasingly turned off by the GOP.

“My dissatisfaction started before Trump,” said Cortese, 60, a sales and marketing professional who lives outside Charlottesville and cast her ballot early for Biden. “It just accelerated and amplified once he got there. And I haven’t seen many profiles in courage … in terms of standing up to the more egregious activities and policies of the Trump administration.”

The survey was conducted Oct. 13 through Monday, and it found that more than 1 in 5 likely voters said they had already cast their ballot, or 22 percent. Of that group, 69 percent say they voted for Biden, compared with 24 percent who voted for Trump. Biden also leads among Virginians who still plan to vote early, by 65 percent to 25 percent.

Trump leads by 24 points among likely voters who plan to vote on Election Day (59 percent to 35 percent).

VA

Washington Post-Schar School Poll

Biden holds wide lead among

women, Black voters and

early voters

Among likely voters

Support

Biden

Support

Trump

52%

41%

Likely voters overall

44

47

Men

59

35

Women

84

8

Black

41

53

White

31

65

White no college degree

55

37

White college graduate

Plan to vote on

Election Day

35

59

65

25

Plan to vote early

69

24

Already voted

Note: Support for Jorgensen, “Other,” “None,”

“Would not vote” and “No opinion” not shown.

Source: Oct. 13-19, 2020, Washington Post-Schar

School poll among 908 Virginia likely voters with an

error margin of +/- 4 percentage points. Error

margins larger among subgroups.

Virginia

Washington Post-Schar School Poll

Biden holds wide lead among women,

Black voters and early voters

Among likely voters

Support Biden

Support Trump

52%

41%

Likely voters overall

44

47

Men

59

35

Women

84

8

Black

41

53

White

31

65

White no college degree

55

37

White college graduate

Plan to vote on

Election Day

35

59

65

25

Plan to vote early

69

24

Already voted

Note: Support for Jorgensen, “Other,” “None,” “Would not vote” and

“No opinion” not shown.

Source: Oct. 13-19, 2020, Washington Post-Schar School poll among

908 Virginia likely voters with an error margin of +/- 4 percentage points.

Error margins larger among subgroups.

Washington Post-Schar School Poll

Virginia

Biden holds wide lead among women, Black voters and early voters

Among likely voters

Support Biden

Support Trump

52%

41%

Likely voters overall

44

47

Men

59

35

Women

84

8

Black

41

53

White

31

65

White no college degree

55

37

White college graduate

35

59

Plan to vote on Election Day

65

25

Plan to vote early

69

24

Already voted

Note: Support for Jorgensen, “Other,” “None,” “Would not vote” and “No opinion” not shown.

Source: Oct. 13-19, 2020, Washington Post-Schar School poll among 908 Virginia likely voters with an error margin of +/- 4 percentage points. Error margins larger among subgroups.

Despite his deficit to Biden, Trump’s 41 percent approval rating among Virginia registered voters is his best standing in Post-Schar School polls since he took office. In his first year, Trump ranged from 34 percent to 36 percent approval, which grew to 40 percent in late 2019.

Strong disapproval of Trump has stayed fairly consistent, though — 50 percent of Virginia voters say they strongly disapprove of Trump’s performance, and that has ranged from 50 percent to 53 percent since 2017. A larger 57 percent majority currently either strongly or somewhat disapprove.

Regionally, the Northern Virginia suburbs of D.C. continue to be the biggest blue stronghold in the state, with Biden leading there by 44 points among likely voters, similar to Clinton’s 41-point margin in 2016. Biden’s 23-point lead in the Richmond area and Central Virginia is up sharply from Clinton’s six-point margin there.

Biden has a slightly smaller edge in the Tidewater region than Clinton had four years ago — a statistically insignificant three points, compared with 11 for Clinton. And the Northern Virginia exurbs could be a significant battleground, splitting 50 to 47 for Trump after backing Clinton by two points in 2016.

Beth Povlsen said she will cast her ballot for Trump in person on Nov. 3 in Bealeton, a Northern Virginia exurb in Fauquier County.

“I’m waiting to vote on the day. I’m a die-hard,” said Povlsen, 54, who works as a personal shopper at Harris Teeter. “There’s no reason to vote early. We’re going to grocery stores, we’re going to Walmarts, we’re going everywhere.”

She thinks both parties have “mishandled the pandemic tremendously.”

“They’re using it as a political pawn,” she said. “I don’t think the pandemic is political. It’s a virus just like anything else, and you’re either going to get it or you’re not. … Is it going to kill people? Yes, but the flu does, too. Get over it and move on.”

She voted for Trump four years ago and says Biden would push the country too far to the left.

“I’m not a communist or a socialist,” she said. “I work too hard for my money. The government doesn’t need to give it to somebody else.”

In the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Henry County, on the North Carolina line, Sabrina Brooks voted for Trump four years ago and will do so again.

“He did everything he promised,” said Brooks, a 36-year-old computer processor. “The only time we had downfalls was once the coronavirus hit.”

But Brooks does not blame Trump for the virus’s spread, saying calls for greater mask usage are misplaced and contrary to personal liberty.

“If you’re sick, you need to wear a mask if you go out,” she said. “I don’t care what you have. But if you’re not sick, you shouldn’t be restricted.”

She likes Trump’s efforts to roll back the Affordable Care Act, saying the changes eased restrictions on businesses in ways that allowed them to do more hiring. She also says Trump has strengthened the military and taken a strong stand against domestic terrorism, which she linked to vandalism that erupted over the summer at some racial-justice protests.

“I’m all for protesting,” she said. “When you bring violence into it, you’ve crossed the line, and no one should protect criminals.”


Voters wait in line to cast their ballots during early-voting hours at the Fairfax County Government Center on Friday. (Shawn Thew/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Black voters heavily favor Biden, by 84 percent to 8 percent for Trump, though that’s down slightly from the 88 percent who preferred Clinton in 2016 exit polls, with 9 percent for Trump that year.

“If you’re going to be my president, then represent all people, not just some people,” said Emma A. White, 73, an African American homemaker in Hampton who added that she believes Trump has been dismissive of racial equity issues.

“I think Biden is more for the people of all races,” she said. “I’ve seen him reach out to us when he was with President Obama.”

White said she likes Trump’s position on some issues, such as his opposition to abortion. But she voted early for Biden because she finds him more trustworthy.

“I feel good about Biden as a candidate, because he has proven himself to be so far a man of his word,” she said. “I’ve seen him be a father, I’ve seen him be a husband — I just like who he is.”

Ambrosio Daniel, 40, a systems analyst who lives in the Burke area of Fairfax County, voted four years ago for Green Party nominee Jill Stein. This time he intends to cast his ballot on Election Day for Biden.

“I don’t like the way that this administration has been handling the covid-19 response,” he said, adding that he also opposes Trump’s efforts to undermine the ACA.

Daniel called Trump “idiotic” for his resistance to wearing face masks and holding “superspreader” political rallies during the pandemic. Instead of conveying the advice of his own scientific advisers, Trump is modeling bad behavior, Daniel said.

“It’s sad for him to do the things he does,” Daniel said. “It’s unfortunate, and it’s a lack of leadership.”

Voters for both major candidates expressed concern about the outcome of the election. Roughly two-thirds of Trump and Biden supporters are willing to accept the result as legitimate, even if their candidate loses. But 26 percent of Trump supporters and 31 percent of Biden supporters say they would not be willing to accept the other candidate winning.

“I’m nervous about the election,” said James Cauthen, 63, a college professor in Charlottesville. “I’m concerned about the direction the country is going in now and extremely concerned … about the future of the country as a republic under President Trump.”

But Cauthen, who plans to vote early for Biden, said he has faith that the outcome will be legitimate, no matter who wins.

“I think overall most states and localities are doing a good job in trying to get the vote in,” he said. “They could do better, but I think I could accept the results if [Trump] wins.”

Or as Trump supporter Brooks put it: “I’m not a crybaby liberal, so, yeah, I’ll accept it no matter who they are. I mean, it’s your president.”

The Post-Schar School poll was conducted Oct. 13 to 19 among a random sample of 1,001 registered voters in Virginia, including 908 likely voters. The error margin among registered voters is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, and among likely voters it is four points. Overall, 71 percent of respondents were reached on cellphones and 29 percent on landlines.

Graphics by Daniela Santamariña. Emily Guskin and Alauna Safarpour contributed to this report.