RICHMOND — Democrat Hillary Clinton continues to enjoy a hefty lead over Republican Donald Trump in Virginia, according to the latest polling in a state that began 2016 as a battleground but now is widely projected to go blue.
The former secretary of state is up 12 points over the businessman in a Quinnipiac University Poll released Thursday, less than two weeks before Election Day. Clinton was up by the same margin in a poll released last week by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University.
Fifty percent of the state’s likely voters support Clinton in the Quinnipiac poll, compared to 38 percent for Trump. Four percent said they will vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson and 2 percent for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
After sending Lyndon Johnson to the White House in 1964, Virginia went reliably Republican for president until Barack Obama broke that streak in 2008. He won again in 2012. But after nail-biter races for governor in 2013 and U.S. Senate in 2014, the state was still considered a toss-up heading into 2016.
But Trump has trailed Clinton in polls here for months.
“Virginia, which 12 years ago was a solidly Republican state, is now ‘true blue’ in its presidential ballot and one of the most Democratic states south of the Mason-Dixon Line,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the poll.
Despite the lagging poll numbers, Trump has continued to make a play for Virginia and its 13 electoral votes. He held a rally in Virginia Beach on Saturday, and days earlier announced a $2 million ad buy in the state. May political observers — Republicans among them — have questioned the strategy, but his campaign has said the polls likely underestimate his support.
While Clinton leads in the state, the poll shows Virginians do not have a particularly high opinion of her. Only 45 percent view her favorably, and 53 percent view her unfavorably. But that is still better than Trump’s rating: 34 favorable to 61 percent unfavorable.
Among men, 44 percent said they would vote for Clinton and 41 percent for Trump. Women back Clinton 55 percent to 35 percent. Clinton also has the support of 71 percent of nonwhite voters, while 48 percent of white voters go for Trump.
Clinton has the backing of 91 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of independent voters. Eighty-three percent of Republicans back Trump.
“One number tells you all you need to know about why Donald Trump is doing so poorly in the Old Dominion: Only 83 percent of Republicans say they are going to vote for him, their own party nominee,” Brown said. “That’s a very low measure of party unity. It’s fair to say history is not replete with major candidates winning an election in which they got only 83 percent of their own party members. By comparison, Secretary Clinton is getting 91 percent of the Democratic vote.”
Quinnipiac surveyed 749 likely Virginia likely voters via cellphones and landlines for the poll, which was conducted Oct. 20-26. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.