RICHMOND — Democrat Hillary Clinton is holding onto a comfortable lead over Republican Donald Trump in Virginia, according to an election-eve poll in the swing state, where both campaigns were making a last-minute push.
Clinton was ahead with 48 percent to Trump’s 42 percent in a survey by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. Clinton’s margin in the state had been as high as 15 percent in previous CNU tracking polls, but her six-point margin held up in the final week.
A swing state that had gone blue in the last two presidential elections, Virginia had seemed so safely in Clinton’s column that both sides pulled TV ads from the state back in the summer.
But Republicans have seen reason to hope in the home stretch, as polls tightened and Clinton made a six-figure ad buy in the state. Trump and his running mate, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, shoehorned Virginia rallies into last weekend, with Trump appearing after midnight in Loudoun County.
Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, plans rallies Monday in Northern Virginia and Richmond, where he once presided as a popular mayor and governor. In a last-minute addition, Vice President Biden has been added to line up at the Northern Virginia rally, at George Mason University.
The CNU poll shows a gap in party loyalty. Clinton enjoys the support of 92 percent of Democrats while Trump has the backing of 82 percent of Republicans. Third-party voters have declined steadily, with Libertarian Gary Johnson now at a low of 3 percent from a starting point of 15 percent in September.
“Any electoral victory has to begin with fundamentally solid party support,” said Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center. “Clinton has that going into Election Day, and Trump continues to struggle with it.”
Clinton has strength with women and millennials. Women favor Clinton by 16 points, 53-37 percent. Millennials voters, 18 to 34 years old, prefer her 56-33 percent. Trump’s strongest support comes from white men, who back him 62-29 percent. White voters overall favor Trump, 54-36 percent, while African American voters support Clinton, 89-5 percent.
“In the closing week, women and especially nonwhite women are closing ranks around Clinton,” said Rachel Bitecofer, assistant director of the Wason Center.
Clinton’s strongest vote comes from populous, heavily blue Northern Virginia, where voters favor her 59-33 percent. Trump’s greatest support lies in the rural South and southwestern regions of the state, where voters favor him 56-34 percent.
The survey was conducted Nov. 1-6 among 1,193 likely Virginia voters. It has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent, though the margin of error for subgroups is higher.