March 13, 2012 — A recently completed survey of registered voters in the greater Charlottesville-Albemarle County area shows Democrat Timothy M. Kaine holding a substantial lead over Republican George Allen in the race for the U.S. Senate.
In a sample of nearly 900 registered voters throughout five Central Virginia counties and the city of Charlottesville, taken in January, 59.3 percent of those expressing a preference said they would vote for Kaine, and 40.7 percent said they would vote for Allen, were the November senatorial election to be decided between the two of them. (Of those surveyed, 15.6 percent were undecided or favored neither candidate.)
This was the conclusion of the Center for Survey Research at the University of Virginia, which surveyed 1,096 adult residents of Albemarle, Greene, Nelson, Fluvanna and Louisa counties and the city of Charlottesville in its inaugural Jefferson Area Community Survey. The bi-annual telephone survey completed its first run on Jan. 29.
"This is an early look at how the candidates are doing just in our region, and is certainly not meant to project to the state as a whole," said Pete Furia, lecturer in politics at U.Va. and project director for the survey. "But the survey does provide insight into different counties and the leanings of various demographic groups right here in our area. The statewide polls aren't able to provide this kind of information on the local electorate."
Kaine received majority support among registered voters in four of the region's six jurisdictions, ranging from 76.1 percent in Charlottesville to 60.1 percent in Albemarle County, 55.7 percent in Fluvanna County and 54.5 percent in Nelson County.
Allen received majority support in two of the counties surveyed – 65.2 percent in Greene County and 51.9 percent in Louisa County – and also received majority support among the area's oldest respondents (50.8 percent of those over age 64), and among those whose highest level of education is a high school diploma or less (63.5 percent).
The survey also found a significant gender gap. Among registered voters, Kaine received slim majority support among adult males in the area – getting the nod from 53.2 percent of these respondents – but was favored by 64.7 percent of the region's female adult respondents. The poorest and the wealthiest of area respondents favored Kaine over Allen by the largest margins (59.7 percent to 40.3 percent and 60.3 percent to 39.7 percent, respectively), as did the region's nonwhite and youngest adult respondents. While a slim majority (52.8 percent) of the region's white respondents indicated support for Kaine over Allen, 84.8 percent of the region's nonwhite respondents did so. Among the youngest adult respondents to the JACS, between the ages of 18 and 25, close to nine out of 10 (87.5 percent) expressed support for Kaine.
"This is the first time in many years that a scientific survey has been conducted of our region as a whole," said Tom Guterbock, director of the Center for Survey Research, based at U.Va.'s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. "It's organized in such a way as to reach a representative sample of the region's cell phones and landlines."
Plans are to repeat the survey twice a year, allowing local agencies, nonprofits and academic researchers to participate by sponsoring questions on the poll.