Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden maintains a double-digit percentage point lead in Virginia, but his supporters are more likely to see their choice as a vote against President Donald Trump than a vote for Biden, according to a new statewide poll released Thursday.
The poll, conducted by the Center for Public Policy at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University, found that Biden is leading Trump 51% to 39% among likely voters. That is down just slightly from Biden's 53%-39% margin in a September poll and similar to margins in polls earlier this year.
Biden voters are equally as likely to say their vote is an anti-Trump choice as they are to say it is pro-Biden, each with 49%. Among independent voters who support Biden, 60% said their choice is a vote against Trump, compared to 41% of Democratic voters who support Biden. Trump voters are more likely to feel their vote is for Trump, at 77%, with only 20% saying their vote is against Biden.
The survey of 803 adults was conducted between Oct. 13 and Oct. 22. The margin of error among likely voters is 4.9 percentage points, meaning that Biden's 12-point lead is outside the margin of error.
The survey also found that Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Warner leads Republican challenger Daniel Gade by 55% to 38%, almost exactly the same as Warner's lead in VCU's September poll. Warner is seeking his third term in Tuesday's election.
Gender and region remain significant to the vote choice for both races. Minorities continue to show strong support for Biden and Warner with more than 7 in 10 supporting the Democrats, VCU pollsters said.
In the presidential race, women are more likely to prefer Biden over Trump (54%-36%), and men prefer Biden over Trump by a smaller margin (48%-43%). Regionally, Biden has large leads in Northern Virginia (61%-27%) and Tidewater (58%-28%), and Trump has large leads over Biden in western Virginia (62%-32%) and northwestern Virginia (55%-41%).
Independents are breaking toward Biden by 9 percentage points (47%-38%), with 11% of independents remaining undecided.
“Virginia voters are reflecting a trend toward Biden and the Democrats. This seems to be more of a vote against Trump, than a vote for Biden,” said former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, a Democrat, after whom the VCU school is named.
Dr. Farrah Stone, director of the Commonwealth Poll at the Wilder School, said this year's polling reaffirms the shift over the past 12 years in Virginia.
"The commonwealth is less a purple state and becoming a solidly blue state,” she added. “Still, voters for Trump are very much supportive of the president, while Biden voters are just as likely to support their candidate as they are to be anti-Trump. There is certainly a question of whether the likely Virginia voter supports Democratic policy as much as the Democratic alternative in this race.”