The Takeaway: Shake-up in the Va. Governor's Race

The Takeaway: Shake-up in the Va. Governor's Race
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Intriguing tidbits from the week in election surveys and public opinion polls.

Not for Lovers: With less than two weeks left till voters go to the polls, the Virginia gubernatorial election has turned into an all-out brawl, with Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie recently trading below-the-belt campaign punches. Adding to the chaos, Wednesday evening Hampton University released a new poll showing Gillespie ahead, 41 percent to 33 percent, with a whopping 27 percent undecided. The eight-point advantage for Gillespie is at odds with other recent surveys, and Northam currently maintains a 3.9 percentage point lead in the latest RealClearPolitics poll average.

GOP’s Jersey Blues: A new poll from Quinnipiac University on the New Jersey gubernatorial race shows Democratic candidate Phil Murphy with a whopping 20-point lead over Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno among likely voters.  Guadagno’s problem is obvious – and its name is Chris Christie. The governor’s approval rating is an abysmal 15 percent, and after eight years serving by his side, Guadagno is learning that voters are holding it against her: 51 percent say Guadagno’s association with Christie has a “negative impact” on their opinion of her.

But it’s not all roses for Democrats in New Jersey: Only 19 percent of voters believe that Sen. Robert Menendez deserves to be re-elected. He’s currently on trial facing allegations of corruption.

Runaway: In other Garden State-related news: Bon Jovi appears poised to ride his steel horse into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He currently leads the fan vote by 70,000 votes, and the past five winners of the un-scientific survey wound up being inducted.

Great Scott? Term-limited Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) is expected to challenge incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson in next year’s Senate race. A new poll from the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida shows Scott trailing Nelson by just a single point, 37 percent to 36 percent, with one in five voters undecided.

Scott holds a much higher job approval rating than does Nelson among voters in the state – 59 percent to 35 percent  -- which may be attributed to his recent response to Hurricane Irma. A separate poll out this week from Mason-Dixon showed that two-thirds of Floridians gave Scott a rating of “excellent” or “good” for his handling of the hurricane.

Blue Wave Building? Lots of interesting data in the new Fox News poll out last night, but the most striking data point is this: Democrats have jumped to a 15-point lead over Republicans in the generic ballot test, 50 to 35. That is a dramatic increase from the six-point lead Democrats held in June, the last time Fox News asked the question. It's also the the high-water mark for Democrats, and the low-water mark for the GOP, over the last seven years of the Fox News poll. Overall, Democrats hold a 10.5 percent lead in the RealClearPolitics Generic Ballot poll average.

You a Pothead, Fokker? A new Gallup survey shows that 64 percent of American adults now favor the legalization of marijuana – a record high. Also worth noting, for the first time ever, a majority of Republicans (51 percent) think weed should be legal.

Trump Saluted by the Few, the Proud: What’s most striking from a new Military Times poll of service members’ attitudes about President Trump is the disparity within the branches. Trump’s favorable rating among members of the U.S. Marine Corps (58.9 percent) is more than 12 points higher than the Army (46.3 percent) and 20 points higher than the Navy (39.5 percent) and the Air Force (38.1 percent). Overall, Trump gets a 44 percent approval rating from members of the military. He receives higher marks from enlisted troops (48 percent approval) and significantly lower ratings from officers (30 percent approval).

Discrimination Nation: The headline from this new poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health is that a majority of whites (55 percent) say they believe there is discrimination against white people in America today. But the broader takeaway is that every group in America today believes it is discriminated against, and most by huge majorities: 92 percent of African-Americans, 90 percent of LGBTQ, 78 percent of Latinos, 75 percent of Native Americans, and 60 percent of Asian-Americans.

Boo (Hoo!): With Halloween looming, a survey of 27 U.S. cities shows Washington, D.C., has the “spookiest commute” in America, where workers spend an average of 60.42 minutes making their way to and from the office each day. Los Angeles tops of the list of cities with the “most stressful” commutes in America.

Tom Bevan is the Co-Founder & Publisher of RealClearPolitics and the co-author of Election 2012: A Time for Choosing. Email:, Twitter: @TomBevanRCP

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