Rep. Barbara Comstock (R) trails Democrat Jennifer Wexton and has only slightly more support than the polarizing Republican Senate candidate Corey Stewart, according to a new Washington Post-Schar School poll.
Comstock, who is seeking a third term in Northern Virginia’s 10th District, has in previous races relied on support from at least some Democratic-leaning voters to win — a phenomenon that the poll suggests may not materialize this year.
She is running in a state and district that was not carried by President Trump and largely opposes Stewart, a controversial figure at the top of the statewide ticket who is running 19 percentage points behind Sen. Tim Kaine among likely voters in the 10th District.
In total, just 3 percent of likely voters appear to be ticket-splitters who support Comstock for Congress and Kaine for U.S. Senate.
“If she loses, I think she loses for reasons she had no control over,” said Mark J. Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. “It’s the overall national environment, it’s the anti-Trump sentiment. It’s that she has an R next to her name.”
In 2016, Comstock outperformed Trump, winning the district by six points, even as Trump lost to Hillary Clinton by 10 points, meaning many voters cast ballots for both Comstock and Clinton.
But this year, polling data shows voters are largely sticking to their parties’ candidates, a challenge for Comstock in a district represented by a Republican for almost four decades that has shifted away from the GOP at the presidential level.
“It’s an intensely polarized environment, and people are not making distinctions between the candidates of the same party on the ballot,” Rozell said.
Wexton holds an 11-point lead over Comstock in the Post-Schar School poll of likely voters in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, 54 percent to 43 percent. The poll was conducted Oct. 25 through 28.
In the Senate race, 10th District voters favor Kaine over Stewart, 58 percent to 39 percent. While Stewart’s deficit is larger than Comstock’s, the difference between the House and Senate candidates of the same party is just 4 percentage points.
Each House candidate pulls in support from over 9 in 10 of their fellow partisans and leaners; Wexton with 97 percent support from Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, and Comstock with 92 percent support from Republicans and leaners.
The picture for the Senate candidates in the 10th District is largely similar: Kaine has the support of virtually all Democratic leaners and Stewart garners a smaller 83 percent among Republican leaners.
The survey’s estimates are imprecise, given the small sample was 446 likely voters, with an error margin of 6.5 percentage points. Other public polls have found Wexton with a narrower edge of 6 to 7 percentage points, some within the range of sampling error.
Wexton holds a slightly smaller lead over Comstock than she did in the mid-October poll where she led by 13 points, 56 percent to 43 percent.
Much of the recent shift comes from independent voters, dipping from 60 percent who supported Wexton in the mid-October survey to 56 percent now.
But Wexton’s support grew slightly among one group of voters vital to the district: those who either work for the federal government or a government contractor or share a home with one who does. Six in 10, or 61 percent, support Wexton, up slightly from 56 percent in mid-October.
Almost 6 in 10 voters in the district think the Democratic Party will take control of the U.S. House of Representatives, with members of the Democratic Party even more confident — 85 percent of them think their party will take control, while 73 percent of Republicans believe their party will maintain control.
And a majority of likely voters in Virginia’s 10th District — 59 percent — say Democrats taking over the House will be “good” for the country, while a similar 56 percent say it will be “bad” if Republicans keep control of the House.
When it comes to immigration, an issue that Trump and the Republican Party have been highlighting nationally, half of likely voters in the district say the federal government should do more to stop illegal immigration across the U.S. border with Mexico, while 27 percent say it is doing about the right amount and 23 percent say it should do less.
Those views are broadly in line with voters in battleground districts overall, among whom 54 percent say the federal government should do more.
Attitudes on immigration are deeply partisan and are closely aligned with support for Congress.
Voters favoring additional action to stop illegal immigration prefer Comstock by 75 percent to 23 percent. Wexton receives 80 percent support among those who think the United States is doing “about the right amount” and 90 percent support among those who want the United States to do less than it is now.
Scott Clement contributed to this report.