On Sunday, polling firm Change Research placed outsider Republican candidate for Virginia Governor Corey Stewart ahead of establishment rivals Ed Gillespie and Frank Wagner among likely voters in Tuesday’s GOP primary.
The survey of 3,232 Virginians shows a slim lead for Stewart among likely primary voters. The tally among those who will “definitely” vote for a given candidate, however, is more striking, with a 9-point lead for Stewart at 28 percent over 19 percent and 9 percent for Gillespie and Wagner respectively.
Corey Stewart, President Donald Trump’s former Virginia campaign manager, has carved out a niche for himself as the populist challenger to long-time GOP operative and 2014 U.S. Senate candidate Gillespie. In addition to making the fight against illegal immigration a centerpiece of his campaign, Stewart made headlines with his pledge to defend against the removal of any of Virginia’s long-standing monuments to the state’s Confederate Civil War heroes by left-wing agitators.
Earlier polling had Stewart down significantly to his more establishment-friendly rivals who have been reluctant to wholeheartedly line up with the Trump-Republican populist base on issues like immigration.
The poll has Charlottesville-based former U.S. Congressman Tom Perriello up eight points in the Democratic primary for the same office. Perriello has hit Stewart hard for his populist stances, calling them “an ignorant, backward-looking view of Virginia” and calling the fact that thousands of Virginians fought for the Confederacy “our greatest sin.”
Change Research is a new polling outfit run by two Stanford-educated data scientists and ” a longtime political and communications leader.” The same firm forecasted the final result in the Montana House special election victory of Greg Gianforte within one point of the actual result. They also released the analysis that showed how little of an effect the election-eve altercation between Gianforte and Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs, who alleged the candidate “body-slammed” him as he tried to ask a question, had on voters’ intentions.