AP NEWS

Abigail Spanberger clings to lead over Dave Brat in Virginia: Poll

October 29, 2018 GMT

Democrat Abigail Spanberger is clinging to a narrow lead over Republican Rep. Dave Brat in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District race, according to a poll released Monday.

Among likely voters, Ms. Spanberger leads Mr. Brat by a single point, 46 percent to 45 percent, according to the poll from the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University.

That included registered voters who have voted in at least two of the last four elections in the state, or who were new voters in Virginia in 2017.

Among voters who said they were definitely going to vote and were very enthusiastic about the election, Ms. Spanberger held a 3-point lead, 48 percent to 45 percent.

Both margins are within each sample’s margin of error.

The fact that a district like the 7th is even competitive is “strong evidence” that 2018 should produce a strong midterm effect that “benefits Democrats,” said Dr. Rachel Bitecofer, assistant director of the Wason Center.

The 7th District stretches from the Richmond area up north near Washington, D.C.’s outer suburbs.

“This district has a significant structural advantage for Republicans,” Ms. Bitecofer said. “But that advantage can be overcome with strong turnout in the Richmond suburbs. Democratic turnout will determine which candidate prevails on Election Day.”

Mr. Brat, who famously toppled former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a 2014 primary, won re-election in 2016 by about 15 points in a district President Trump carried by close to 7 points.

Republican Ed Gillespie also carried the district by close to four points in last year’s gubernatorial race against Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam.

The 7th is one of four GOP-held seats Democrats are eyeing as realistic pick-up opportunities in Virginia this year, along with seats in the 2nd, 5th, and 10th congressional districts.

The full survey of 871 voters in the district was taken from Oct. 18-27 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percent.