Poll: Virginians are all about Democrats.

It’s fair to say that the overriding theme of my political blogging has been Republicans in Virginia are way too far to the right, and they’re going to lose the majority soon because of it. Governor Kaine’s election was the first major sign that this is so, Sen. George Allen’s ousting by Sen. Jim Webb was the second sign, and the the ever-shrinking gap between Dems and Republicans in the General Assembly is on the ongoing sign. Now comes a major new poll of Virginia voters conducted by the Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard that makes it as clear as ever that the shift to Democratic dominance in Virginia is well underway.

Tim Craig and Jennifer Agiesta explained the results in yesterday’s Post, writing:

Mirroring the national mood, Virginians’ approval of Bush and support for U.S. policies in Iraq have eroded as the war has dragged on. Bush is the worst of the past nine presidents, say Virginia’s independent voters, who helped him win in 2004 but now say they are more likely to prefer that a Democrat rather than a Republican be the next president.


State residents’ anxieties mirror those expressed by voters nationally, challenging the notion that Virginians are at odds with the rest of the country on key issues and giving Democrats an opportunity to win the state’s 13 electoral votes.


But, more than a year before the general election, this poll shows that four in 10 voters prefer that a Democrat be elected to the White House in 2008, compared with 33 percent who said they favor a Republican. One in 10 said they prefer an independent.

The results of the poll are available as a PDF.

Other interesting numbers:

  • Only 17% of Virginia independents want to see a Republican in the White House come 2009
  • Just 37% of all voters believe it’s hypothetically possible for the U.S. to ever stabilize Iraq
  • 35% of people believe that it was worth fighting the Iraq War
  • Independents are 33% more likely to believe that Democratic officeholders represent their views on Iraq than Republican officeholders

It’s not all candy and flowers. Many independents believe that Republicans’ fiscal policies are better than Democrats, and that Republicans are better on national security than Democrats. But I’d argue that Gov. Warner and Gov. Kaine’s back-to-back victories, premised substantially on the topic of fiscal policy, demonstrate that a majority Virginians believe that, at least in those specific races, the Democrats’ fiscal stance is superior to the Republicans’.

As was evidenced by the often-ugly Republican primaries held around the state last month, the Republican base is totally disconnected from the reality of the changing political landscape in the state. Many Republican activists continue to declare that only commies think that Bush’s adventure in Iraq isn’t worth the cost, and believe that only by moving far, far to the right on tax matters can they possibly retain their majority. The regular ol’ Republicans have been pushed out of the party, and are left standing at a distance, clucking their tongues and shaking their heads; it’s obvious to them where their party went wrong.

I’d assumed that the day when Virginia voted for a Democrat for president would be the day that upstate Virginia had just gotten too damned big. As it turns out, Republicans have managed to drive away a substantial percentage of independents, the very independents that are necessary for either party to win in the commonwealth.

It will be surprising if we fail take the senate this November. But, at this rate, it’s plausible that we could take the house, too. All races come down to two people, of course. They’re not hypothetical match-ups, but real people between whom the voters must choose. Polls be damned, they’re going to vote for the candidate that they like the best. But now we know that they’re what color spectacles that they’re wearing and, at last, they’re not rose.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

15 replies on “Poll: Virginians are all about Democrats.”

  1. I dread this fall’s political ads. The RPV isn’t going to give up control of the legislature easily, and if they’ve proven themselves impotent in governance, we know they certainly can sling mud.

    My advice… Come October, invest in a rain slick.

  2. Kilgore tried it. Allen tried it. Didn’t work for either. Let them try, it will just drive more voters away from them.

  3. Yeah, but dude, seriously … stop telling them what they’re doing wrong!

    Even thought you’re pretty much on the money.

  4. Hey, they’ve never listened to me before. I don’t know why they’d start now. :) Heck, more than a few far-right Republicans have commented on blog entries such as this and claimed that they should do the opposite of whatever I say, since clearly I do not have their best interests at heart.

    Wesley: Alright, where is the poison? The Battle of Wits has begun. Its ends when you decide and we both drink and find out who is right, and who is dead.

    Vincini: But it’s so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you: Are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemies? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool–you would have counted on it–so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me!

    Wesley: You’ve made your decision then?

    Vincini: Oh not remotely! Because Iocane comes from Australia, as everyone knows, and Australia is entirely peopled with criminals. And criminals are used to having people not trust them as you are not trusted by me so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you.

    Wesley: Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.

    Vincini: Wait ’till I get going! Where was I?

    Wesley: Australia.

    Vincini: Yes, Australia! And you must have suspected I would’ve know the powder’s origin so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.

    Wesley: You’re just stalling now.

    Vincini: You’d like to think that wouldn’t you? You’ve beaten my giant which means you’re exceptionally strong, so you could’ve put the poison in your own goblet trusting on your strength to save you, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But, you’ve also bested my Spaniard, which means you must’ve studied–and in studying you must’ve learned that man is mortal, so you would’ve put the poison as far from yourself as possible, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.

    Wesley: You’re trying to trick into giving away something. It won’t work.

    Vincini: It has worked! You’ve given everything away! I know where the poison is!

  5. Like all polls, though, you gotta look at the juicy numbers burried on page 3 of the online article:

    Concurrent with a national poll of independents, the Virginia poll was conducted by phone May 3 to June 3 among 1,708 randomly selected adults in Virginia. Results from the full poll have a margin of error of three percentage points. Error margins are higher for subgroups.

    The poll was conducted over four weeks and taken a month ago. The data is old and with such a long time to take the poll the results are questionable.

  6. I can’t imagine that there’d be a great deal of shift, because there’s not a political campaign underway. While campaigns are ongoing, one can expect the electorate to be more aware of the ever-shifting field of information between the two candidates, in part because they’re being bombarded with ads. But this time of year? Nah. Polls can safely be conducted over the course of weeks. Any responsible polling firm would toss out the data and start over again if they saw a statistically significant change in the numbers over the course of the poll.

    And with Democrats often leading by 3:1 and 4:1 margins? I mean, worst case is that now, say, only 25% of independents want to see a Republican in the White House, rather than 17%, but with the overwhelming majority of independents thinking that Bush’s pardon was BS, I’m going out on a limb and saying that’s probably not so. :)

  7. The immigration issue may have caused a shift one way or another. And the recent terror issues in England. The Libby pardon also. So everything may balance out, but for the Post to present this as an accurate measurement when some of the data is up to two months old really isn’t good journalism. The failure of the poll to show where the populace polled lives also limits its reliability as an independent in SWVA may have an entirely different view than one in NOVA. The whole thing smacks of spin more than anything else.

  8. “So everything may balance out, but for the Post to present this as an accurate measurement when some of the data is up to two months old really isn’t good journalism.”

    Just because it is two months old doesn’t mean that it isn’t an accurate reflection of how voters felt at the time. I agree there have been a few things that may have shifted views one way or another but all other data shows little change in public opinion. Bush’s approval rating remains as low (if not lower) as it was two months ago. The public is just as fed up with the Republican Party as ever, the Iraq War hasn’t gotten any better, and Bush pardoned Scooter Libby. I can’t imagine how these results would be that far off.

    “The failure of the poll to show where the populace polled lives also limits its reliability as an independent in SWVA may have an entirely different view than one in NOVA.”

    But why does this matter at the aggregate level? If they had a random sample it means that every element had a proportional chance of being selected by the study. The reason they have a margin of error is to allow for any mistakes they would have made when selecting their sample. Given the three point margin of error I can’t see how this can be construed in any other way than being bad for Republicans and good for Democrats.

    “The whole thing smacks of spin more than anything else.”

    If you think the data is wrong then I must ask why? If it is because of the age of the data then please explain what you think a more accurate picture looks like and why. This data seems pretty consistent with the past few election cycles and all the polling data out there on Bush’s approval rating. Even SurveyUSA is picking up more Democrats in their random samples than what they use to. It may be a flaw in their method but it is more likely (when you combine it with other factors) that it is further proof that more people are identifying themselves as Democrats. We have also seen proof that Independents are aligning themselves more with Democrats. In 06 Webb managed to turn Kerry’s deficit among Independents into a decent winning margin. You can also see the change in suburban voters who are not as socially conservative as those in the rural areas but vote Republican for fiscal issues. Henrico, Loudon, Prince William, VA Beach, Chesapeake, Fairfax, James City, Albemarle, etc. are all places that were Republican strongholds just a decade or so ago but have now either flipped completely or are delivering less decisive margins for Republican candidates. Again, I ask if the data in this poll is wrong then what do you think the real picture looks like?

  9. Just curious how people see the November elections reshaping the composition of the Virginia legislature. I believe the current make-up of the Virginia Senate is GOP 23 and Dems 17. The House of Delegates is GOP 57, Dems 40, with 3 Independents. Although the House seems like a safe hold for the Repubs, anyone think the Senate will likely change hands?

  10. Only slightly less well-known is this: Never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

Comments are closed.