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Poll Shows Virginia Senate Race Tightening

Combo picture of Corey Stewart and Tim Kaine
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A poll released on Thursday shows that Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) leads Corey Stewart, his Republican challenger in November’s Virginia U.S. Senate race, by only five points–50 percent to 45 percent.

The poll’s results can be considered an outlier since three other polls that comprise the Real Clear Politics Average of Polls show that Kaine leads Stewart by an average of 19 points–51 percent to 32 percent.

The new poll, as reported by the Fairfax County Republican Committee, was conducted by two firms, Poolhouse, which describes itself as “a team of strategists, political operatives, communicators, designers, writers, producers, and filmmakers,” and Cygnal, a relatively unknown Alabama-based polling firm.

“This survey is even better than our own internal polling, and although we’re still behind we know Virginians are looking for a change from Tim Kaine, because he’s too liberal, too weak and he’s done nothing as Senator,” Republican nominee Corey Stewart said in a statement released by the Fairfax County Republican Party.

The poll of likely voters in Virginia’s November general election was conducted between August 22 and 24 and has a 2.83 percent margin of error.

“Even with worst-case, low-Republican turnout scenario modeling, the gap widens to 9 points, 51% to 42%,” Poolhouse said in a statement, adding:

  • This is better than where Ed Gillespie was polling against Mark Warner in 2014. Kaine’s standing in the POOLHOUSE + Cygnal poll mirrors other public polling results.
  • The generic ballot is knotted up in Virginia, 47% Republican to 48% Democrat.
  • President Donald Trump’s fav/unfavs 46/51, 3 points sunnier than the most recent comparable nationwide poll.

Poolhouse added the following analysis of the poll results in its statement:

  • Voter enthusiasm is high. More than 85% of respondents said they will definitely vote in November.
  • Similarly, voters are evenly divided (47% GOP / 47% Dem) on the generic ballot in a normal midterm turnout.
  • President Trump’s image is still underwater.
  • Only 4% of respondents were undecided – much lower than other publicly released polls to date. This likely benefits Stewart, who may have gained support from “not Kaine” respondents.
  • This survey shows support of Kaine reaching levels similar to other polling in VA, but with higher support of Stewart and lower undecided voters. A key takeaway is that there seems to be a block of voters that will not break for Kaine. If these voters had to choose today, they would break for Stewart.
  • Kaine’s sizeable campaign war chest puts Stewart at a disadvantage as the campaign goes on. ($6 million vs $142,000 as of most recent FEC report) However, Kaine is a well-known former governor and vice presidential nominee in a state that went for Hillary Clinton by 5 points. Kaine has been advertising on TV for 3 weeks before this poll was conducted with no competitive advertising from Stewart, and the result is a very tight race.

“The partisan makeup of the sample is based on previous midterm election participation and confirmed by voter response on the survey,” according to Poolhouse.

The self-identified party affiliation of poll respondents was 30 percent Republican, 38 percent independent, and 31 percent Republican.

Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in the state by five points in the 2016 presidential election–50 percent to 45 percent. The last time a Republican presidential candidate won Virginia was in 2004 when George W. Bush defeated John Kerry to win the state’s electoral college votes.

Most Virginia political pundits responded to the poll’s results with skepticism, and Real Clear Politics has not included the results of the poll in its Average of Polls.

Breitbart News sought comment from Poolhouse co-founder Will Ritter, the company spokesperson, but did not receive a response.

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