Poll places Va. gubernatorial candidates in a tie four days before election

Ed Gillespie, left, and Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, right, are vying to become Virginia's next governor in the 2017 election. (WAVY Photos).

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Outside the State Capitol, crews are setting up bleachers for the January inauguration.

But it’s still a few days until we’ll know who will be center stage as Virginia’s next governor.

A new poll out Friday has the Republican and Democratic candidates in a tie.

The Rasmussen Reports poll shows both Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam carrying 45 percent of support from likely voters.

Libertarian Cliff Hyra got 2 percent and 6 percent polled were undecided.

The poll’s margin of error is +/- 3.5 percent.

According to Rasmussen, 32 percent of Virginia voters listed the economy and jobs as the top issue in the race. Twenty-two percent said taxes and spending rank most important. Cultural concerns, including what to do with Confederate statues, are the top issue for 12 percent, while 11 percent cite illegal immigration. Nine percent are most concerned with law and order. Another 12% reported something else.

It’s been a busy final stretch for the candidates, and not necessarily perfect.

“A couple of hiccups,” said political analyst Richard Meagher.

Meagher said Northam has taken a few recent hits after smooth sailing for most of his campaign.

There was backlash after that now-pulled anti-Gillespie ad from the Latino Victory Fund. Northam also lost support from Democracy for America after what some are calling a “flip-flop” on sanctuary cities.

But Meagher said the impact probably won’t be huge.

“I don’t know that these last bits of hiccups and attack ads are really going to move the needle one way or the other,” he said.
We checked in with Northam’s campaign to see how they are feeling with just four days to go.

Communications director David Turner gave us this statement:

“We have seen historic levels of volunteer activity, small donor donations, and primary turnout. Dr. Northam, Justin Fairfax, and Attorney General Herring are unified and fighting for good paying jobs, affordable healthcare, and quality education. We are confident going into election day because the democratic ticket is resonating with Virginians.”

An unanswered question for much of the campaign season has been whether President Donald Trump would campaign in Virginia for Gillespie.

After months of wondering, Trump made it clear he wouldn’t.

On Friday, he jetted off to Asia for a 12-day trip.

Meagher said, despite the flurry of attention during the final stretch, the main messages have stayed the same.

“I don’t really think anything has changed about the underlying dynamics of the race,” he said. “We still have Gillespie trying to figure out
how to negotiate being a Republican and having a national party leader, Donald Trump, who is so polarizing. We still have Northam trying to react against that and also try to tie Gillespie to Trump directly.”

We also asked Gillespie’s campaign how they are feeling with just days to go. Campaign spokesperson Dave Abrams issued this statement:

“We are at a critical juncture in Virginia, and Ed is working tirelessly during the final days of the campaign to share his detailed vision on how to create jobs, raise take-home pay, help people lift themselves out of poverty, improve our public schools, solve our transportation problems and make us safer. He feels strong momentum everywhere and is confident that a majority of Virginia voters will embrace his positive agenda on Tuesday.”

Election Day is Nov. 7.