Tim Kaine Crushing Corey Stewart In New Virginia Senate Poll

Nominating Corey Stewart is beginning to look like the biggest mistake Virginia Republicans have ever made.

A new poll from Virginia Commonwealth University shows Senator Tim Kaine crushing controversial Republican nominee Corey Stewart:

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., led GOP rival Corey Stewart by 23 percentage points in a July poll of likely voters released Wednesday.

Kaine had 49 percent to 26 percent for Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, with 5 percent for Libertarian Matt Waters and 20 percent undecided, according to the survey from the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.

While Virginians do not register by party, the survey found that a third of self-described Republicans or Republican-leaning voters were not yet backing Stewart — with 20 percent undecided, 10 percent supporting Waters and 3 percent backing Kaine.

While Stewart had backing from 66 percent of Republicans, Kaine had backing from 88 percent of Democrats.

Kaine led in four of the five regions broken out in the poll — Northern Virginia, Tidewater, South Central and Northwest. Stewart leads in the Southwestern part of the state.

Asked which party they want to control Congress after the November elections, 51 percent said Democrats, 32 percent said Republicans and 17 percent said they did not know.

This is the worst so far that Stewart has performed in the VCU poll specifically, or in any other poll that has been taken in this race to date. In the May VCU poll, for example, which was taken before the Stewart had won the Republican primary that was held in June, Kaine led Stewart by 11 points. In the June poll taken in the wake of the primary, Kaine’s lead expanded to 18 points. And now, the same poll shows the incumbent Senator leading by 23 points. The only other notable poll that has been taken since the primary, a Quinnipiac poll from June, showed Kaine with an eleven point lead. While it’s probably true that many Virginians are not paying much attention to this race at the moment, these poll numbers clearly seem to show that voters are rejecting Stewart as they come to know him. Whether that will change remains to be seen but it is difficult to see how Stewart can make up this kind of difference in the just about three months left to go between now and Election Day.

Perhaps the most interesting statistic in this latest poll comes in the crosstabs, and it’s a statistic that ought to have Republicans all over the Commonwealth shaking in their boots. As there has been in several of the last statewide elections, the Libertarian Party of Virginia has a candidate on the statewide ballot. In the 2013 Governor’s race and the 2014 Senate race between Mark Warner and Ed Gillespie, that candidate was Robert Sarvis, a Virginia attorney. In the Governor’s race between Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli, Sarvis managed to get more than 6% of the vote, larger than the margin by which McAuliffe ultimately beat Cuccinelli. That margin was smaller in the 2014 Senate race, but Sarvis still managed to garner just under 2.5% of the vote, again larger than that closer-than-expected margin between incumbent Senator Mark Warner and Republican challenger Ed Gillespie.

This year, the Libertarian Party has nominated Matt Waters, a relatively unknown candidate who most recently served as Director for Development at an organization called Students for Liberty, which is largely a legacy of the 2008 Ron Paul Presidential campaign and the movement that developed around the former Texas Congressman. In any case, Waters is polling at 5% in this new VCU poll and is drawing more support from disaffected Republicans who cannot bring themselves to support Stewart (10%) than he is from self-identified “Independents” (8%). If this accurate, then the things are not going to go very well at all for Stewart of the Republican Party of Virginia. At the same time, the poll shows that Stewart is only getting support from 66% of self-identified Republicans while Kaine gets the support of 88% of Democrats, 25% of the Independents, and even 3% of Republicans. Finally, the poll shows that 20% of voters are undecided in the race, with 20% of Republicans, 8% of Democrats, and a surprisingly high number of 57% of Independents saying they are independents. If the undecided numbers break in a manner consistent with the polls, then most of those voters seem likely to go to Kaine.

As I’ve said before, the biggest concern among Virginia Republicans is that Stewart and, to some extent, President Trump, is likely to be a drag on the rest of the ticket, which could post problems for Congressional candidates in other parts of the state. Generally speaking, the most vulnerable Republican Member of Congress is most likely Barbara Comstock, who has represented the Tenth Congressional District since winning the election in 2014 to succeed Frank Wolf, who had held the seat since first being elected in 1980. Comstock’s District comprises parts of Northern Virginia, the most populated section of the state and an area that has proved pivotal in most recent statewide elections. It also happens to be an area that has been trending purple in recent years, requiring Comstock to thread the needle between being a relatively center-right Republican and staying in tune with her district. Even though she’s succeeded in that effort in the past, Stewart’s presence at the top of the ticket could pose problems for her in November. In addition to Comstock, other potentially vulnerable Members of Congress in the Commonwealth of Virginia include Scott Taylor, who has represented the Second Congressional District since being elected in 2016 and now finds himself under scrutiny related to efforts to get a third-party candidate on the ballot in his district, Dave Brat in the Seventh Congressional District, who famously defeated Eric Cantor back in 2014, Thomas Garrett in the Fifth Congressional District, and the open seat in the Sixth Congressional District created by the retirement of long-serving Congressman Bob Goodlatte, who currently serves as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. While it’s unlikely that the Virginia GOP will lose all of these seats, if Stewart’s presence on the ballot, combined with the Trump effect, makes them more vulnerable, then that is going to cause problems for the GOP in Virginia and nationwide.

FILED UNDER: 2018 Election, Congress, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    Amidst all the talk of how solid the Trump base is, what is remarkable is how little ground he’s gained. With a seemingly wonderful economy and no new wars, any normal president would be at least 10 points in the black, and instead he’s never better than 10 points underwater. He has negative coattails.

    Corey Stewart is a problem created by Trump. Trump has tried to mainstream racism and the voters outside of the cult are not having it. Neither is big business. The whole ‘white supremacist’ project is failing. Trump enables Stewart, Stewart kills down-ballot Republicans, and Democrats win. MAGA!

  2. teve tory says:

    Nominating Corey Stewart is beginning to look like the biggest mistake Virginia Republicans have ever made.

    But did it Stick It To The Libtards? That’s all that matters.

  3. JohnMcC says:

    What could you expect from the ‘Douglas Wilder School of Government’!? We know who/what HE was! Fake news! (Snark alert!)

    Other than to recommend that anyone interested should follow the link to the actual results summary, two thoughts:

    First, that the ‘southwest’ portion of the state is as deeply Appalachian as West Virginia and has a long tradition of doing whatever can be done to oppose the tidewater Virginians. More than a few of those counties actually seceded from their states in 1861. So Mr Stewart’s love affair with the CSA and the response from those voters is both expected and ironic.

    And that only 16% of respondents trust the Va state legislature to do the decennial redistricting. That’s pretty amazing to me.

  4. Yank says:

    Nominating Corey Stewart is beginning to look like the biggest mistake Virginia Republicans have ever made.


    You would think VA GOP voters would have learned something after what happened to Gillespie in 2017. Nope, lets just double down on this failed strategy. Stewart is so bad, he might even lift Cockburn towards the finish line in the 5th district and she is an awful candidate.

  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    Interesting that 26% support an open racist like Stewart. 25-30% has been my rough estimate of how many people in this country are just flat-out racists. Figure those are the hardcore cultists, there’s a bit of a gap between that number and the 46% who voted for him, or the 42% who still support him. That 10-20% gap is our hunting ground.

  6. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    I think you guys aren’t paying enough attention to image of the candidates. Look at the two pictures. With the pose as it is, Tim Kaine bears a striking resemblance to J William Fullbright whereas Stewart’s picture looks like a mug shot of Bizarro Poppin’ Fresh[TM].

    If those images are carrying over to the stump, who ya gonna vote for?

  7. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Amidst all the talk of how solid the Trump base is

    I forget where, but some media place I follow pointed out that this is largely a fictitious argument based on pointing out how high his approval rating is among Republicans while ignoring that the percentage of people who identify themselves as Republicans has cratered since his election.

  8. grumpy realist says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Ah, the crazifaction factor. All over again.

  9. Barry says:

    @Michael Reynolds: The Crazification Factor

  10. JohnMcC says:

    @grumpy realist: @grumpy realist:

    In the crosstabs of the cited poll, the question is asked: ‘Thinking about people who come to the U.S. illegally, which one of the following best describes your view?’

    The bar of the graph for 2018 shows ‘deport all’ gets — ta da! — 27%.

    The way that ‘constant’ appears is way not random, innit?

  11. Kylopod says:

    @grumpy realist: It’s interesting to read that essay now. It was written in early 2011, when Trump was regarded as a novelty quasi-candidate pretending to run for president to gin up publicity for his show. “Crazification” certainly was an apt description of the support he was getting at the time. But when the article discusses the 2004 Senate election in Illinois, it overlooks an important factor, which is partisanship. In general, the nominee of either party always has a floor of roughly 25% of the vote, no matter what happens. That was about Nixon’s approval rating at the height of Watergate, for example, and no US president has ever had a worse rating–not Truman during the Korean War, not Carter during the Iran hostage crisis, not Dubya after Iraq, Katrina, or the collapse of the banks. Probably the biggest reason why Keyes got 27% of the vote is simply because that was the loyal Republican base, who will support literally anyone with an R after their name. In the modern GOP, crazification and partisanship tend to heavily coincide. But they aren’t the same thing, and it’s important to understand the difference.

  12. MarkedMan says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    the percentage of people who identify themselves as Republicans has cratered

    I wish that were true, but here’s what Gallup says. Maybe there is a trend in there but it’s certainly not obvious.

  13. ushbestlinks says:

    Religious nuts need to accept Court agreed abortion, gay rights, and freakin MOVE ON! Else AMERICA will not be able to solve our problems. Get over the notion that RELIGION will take over America. It totally won’t. Spilled blood is not Christian! It will only weaken us worldwide.

    ONE ISSUE. DECIDE WHICH! Religious issues or Appropriate Government guarding our rights: (1) Abortion, clean environment , safe food, drugs and chemicals, trusted election rights, equal law enforcement and court lawyers, free of police abuse, lying cops, Constitutional bail, lack of proper and SUFFICIENT lawyers for citizens and immigrants seeking representation for charges, and pleas for legal asylum, (2) And Government OPEN RECORDS in a much more reasonable time!

    Moreover, with REASONABLE FOLLOWING of that agenda, then relatively FEW VIOLATIONS would SURFACE! And they SHOULDN’T, if government would STOP being so partisan! There should be no violations left but cases slipping through bureaucratic cracks!