In this March 1, 2020 file photo former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe walks up to the stage as he prepares to introduce Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, during a campaign rally in Norfolk.
upport for former governor Terry McAuliffe has nearly doubled since February among Democrats, according to a new poll, putting him in the lead to be the party’s candidate in November’s gubernatorial election.
The party will decide in the June 8 primary who will run for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
According to the survey results released Thursday by the Wason Center for Civic Leadership at Christopher Newport University, 47% of Democrats support McAuliffe, up from 26% in February.
The next closest competitor was Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax at 8%. Sen. Jennifer McClellan received 6% of support, followed by former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy at 5% and Del. Lee Carter with 1%. Over a quarter of those polled — 27% — said they were still undecided.
The poll showed that McAuliffe was the “best-known” candidate among voters, and 56% gave him favorable rating while 14% said he had an unfavorable rating and 28% said they had no opinion. Fairfax had a 27% to 26% favorable/unfavorable rating, and 45% of voters indicated no opinion about Fairfax.
“Name recognition is a big head start, but it’s better when voters’ impression is mostly favorable,” said Wason Center Academic Director Quentin Kidd in a prepared statement.
In the crowded field for lieutenant governor, 64% of Democrats surveyed were undecided. But Del. Sam Rasoul was the leader at 12%. Before withdrawing from the race Saturday, Del. Elizabeth Guzman followed with 4%.
For attorney general, Democratic voters favor incumbent Mark Herring for a third term with 42%. He has a significant lead over Norfolk Del. Jerrauld “Jay” Jones, who was at 18%, while 34% remain undecided. Jones’ support in the February poll was just 3% while Herring remained unchanged.
“This gubernatorial field is the most diverse in the history of the Commonwealth, and that has drawn a great deal of interest in the race,” Wason Center Research Director Dr. Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo said in a prepared statement.
The poll’s results are based on interviews with 806 registered voters, conducted between April 11 and 21.