With less than 150 days remaining before Election Day, the Jefferson Area Community Survey, led by Thomas M. Guterbock, director of the University of Virginia Center for Survey Research, shows that a large number of area residents remain undecided about their preference in the forthcoming gubernatorial election.
Among registered voters in the greater Charlottesville area who indicated a clear choice, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe holds a significant lead over Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli.
In a survey conducted April 16 through June 6, 36.2 percent of registered voters didn’t know whom they would vote for in the November gubernatorial election. Among these registered voters expressing a clear preference, 60.3 percent said they planned to vote for McAuliffe, compared to 38.9 percent for Cuccinelli. The remaining 0.8 percent expressed support for other candidates.
The survey included residents of the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle, Louisa, Fluvanna, Nelson and Greene counties.
The survey found significant partisan gaps between Louisa County, which was heavily Republican and heavily backed Cuccinelli, and Charlottesville, Albemarle, Nelson and Fluvanna, all of which favored McAuliffe by significant margins. Greene County, which indicated a slight preference for Cuccinelli in the governor’s race, was the only area jurisdiction in which the race appears to be tightly contested, though Greene also registered the highest percentage of undecided voters.
Survey results also indicate a substantial gender gap. Among men in the region, more of whom call themselves “conservative” than either “moderate” or “liberal,” McAuliffe holds a slim lead, 34.4 percent to 29.6 percent, with 28.3 percent undecided. Among women in the region, more of whom call themselves “liberal” than “moderate” or “conservative,” McAuliffe holds a distinct advantage, 34.1 percent to 15.3 percent, though the largest percentage (42.5 percent) of registered female respondents remain undecided.
“These findings shed light on why the McAuliffe campaign in particular has expressed concern about potential voter indifference,” said Guterbock, whose center is part of U.Va.’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. “Democrats have a lot of support here, but women in general appear to be unmoved as yet by the Democratic candidate’s campaign.”
The clearest patterns in the survey results are the relationships between conservatism, choice of gubernatorial candidate and education level. The percentage of registered voters calling themselves “conservative” declines steadily with educational attainment, from 58.9 percent of those with less than a high school diploma to 19.6 percent of those with advanced college degrees. Conversely, voter preference for Democratic candidate McAuliffe increases steadily with educational attainment, from 15.9 percent of those with less than a high school diploma to 58.5 percent of those with advanced college degrees.
The Jefferson Area Community Survey is a regional omnibus survey conducted twice a year by the U.Va. Center for Survey Research. The survey interviewed 922 registered voters across the region, reached on both landline and cellular telephones. These results have a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.
Less than High School