Democrat Ralph Northam has a slightly greater lead over Republican Ed Gillespie in the latest tracking poll for the governor’s race from Christopher Newport University, as both campaigns ramp up for the home stretch.
Northam hit 50 percent support among likely voters compared with 43 percent for Gillespie, according to the poll released Friday by CNU’s Wason Center for Public Policy.
This is the third weekly tracking poll the university has released in advance of the Nov. 7 election; Northam had a 7-point lead in the Oct. 9 poll that shrank to 4 points in the Oct. 17 poll.
The poll finds that Northam has broad support both regionally and demographically, but the Gillespie has solidified support from his party’s conservative, rural base. The pollsters attribute this to a “Trump effect” from Gillespie’s recent spate of hard-hitting ads on the subjects of Hispanic gang violence and Confederate statues.
Most recent polls have shown Northam with a slight lead - often within the margin of error - though some have varied widely. A Hampton University poll released earlier this week had Gillespie up by 8 points, while the Washington Post-Schar School poll from earlier this month had Northam up by 13 points.
The average of all polls shows Northam leading by about 4 points, according to Real Clear Politics.
Both campaigns are treating the race like a dead heat, bringing in outside firepower and unveiling new ads to try to pump up enthusiasm. Gillespie will be campaigning Monday with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), while former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) will campaign this weekend for Northam.
Down the ticket, CNU’s poll found the races tightening. Democrat Justin Fairfax has a 47 to 44 lead over Republican Jill Vogel for lieutenant governor, and Democratic incumbent Attorney General Mark Herring has a 49 to 44 lead over Republican challenger John Adams.
But the poll found that the Republicans were gaining ground and Democrats slipping.