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New poll shows tight presidential race in Virginia

Donald Trump campaigns at the Prince William County Fairgrounds in 2015.

In a recent political survey conducted by John Zogby Strategies, the competition between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump appears to be heating up in Virginia, with Trump holding a narrow lead.

The poll, conducted from April 13 to April 21, 2024, involved 23,683 likely voters across the U.S., 586 of whom were from Virginia.

In Virignia, the results show Trump slightly ahead of Biden, capturing 45.4% of the vote compared to Biden’s 44.9%. The margin of error for the Virginia subset is higher than the overall survey’s ±0.6%, emphasizing the close nature of the contest and the potential for shifts as the campaign progresses.

In terms of party alignment in Virginia:

  • 35% identified as Democrats
  • 33% identified as Republicans
  • 31% identified as Independents

Voter sentiments in Virginia also show varied opinions on candidate favorability. 45% of respondents viewed Biden very unfavorably and somewhat favorably 21.9%, reflecting a polarized perception among voters. Conversely, 48.4% viewed Trump very unfavorably but also received a high very favorable rating from 24.2% of those surveyed, indicating similarly strong sentiments on both sides.

“The main thing to gather from this survey is that Virginia remains a far more purple state than many national political observers seem to think. The fact that this poll is well within the margin of error demonstrates that both political parties would be wise to focus on Virginia in 2024, as they did in several previous election cycles – but not in 2020,” said Professor of Political Science and International Affairs & Director, Center for Leadership and Media Studies Dr. Stephen J. Farnsworth.

“The big challenge for both campaigns is the high level of voter negativity regarding the candidates selected by the two major parties. Rather than focus on trying to win over the small number of voters who are not committed to one major party or the other, I expect both campaigns will try to focus on making their case by describing how awful it would be for the country if the other side were to win the White House,” added Farnsworth. “They will focus on getting people who would vote for their side if they showed up to vote fearful enough of the other side to cast a ballot. This strategy will also discourage voting for a third-party candidate, as walking away one’s less disliked major party may mean that the more disliked major party ends up winning the election.”

Similar to its predecessor four years ago, the 2024 Presidential Election has been characterized by a race to the bottom, with mud-slinging and negative campaigning taking center stage.

“The difference this year is that voters have had the opportunity to realize and experience the personal impact of the two candidate’s respective policies. While both campaigns may have the opportunity to capitalize on the negatives of the opposing candidate, only the Trump campaign has the ability to link those negatives on President Biden to the cost of living and public safety issues that will decide this election,” said Cameron Hamilton, a Republican seeking to Replace Rep. Abigail Spanberger in Virginia’s 7th District (eastern Prince William, Stafford, Spotsylvania counties, and Fredericksburg).

Hamilton is one of eight Republicans and nine Democrats who have filed to run in a June 18 Primary Election. The 7th District and neighboring 10th District races in western Prince William and Loudoun counties will be some of the most expensive in the nation this fall, and they will likely drive Virginia voters to the polls more than the Presidential candidates.

“Both President Trump and President Biden are lightning rods that motivate their opposition and inspire their respective base of voters. For this reason, I think we will see lower engagement and enthusiasm but a similar turnout as in past elections. I think this also opens the door for our down-ballot races for Senate and Congress to play a big part in motivating voters and getting them engaged when they otherwise may be inclined to sit this political season out,” said Prince William County Republican Committee Chairman Jacob Alderman.

Eugene Vindman, a Democrat who spoke against President Trump at his first impeachment, has raised nearly $4 million in the 7th District primary race, a phenomenal haul for a local race. Most of the cash is from donors in California and New York.

Derrick Anderson has raised the most money among the Republican candidates for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, with a total of $888,595.

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