Roanoke College poll: Trump closing gap among Virginia voters

Published: Sep. 22, 2016 at 7:32 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

The latest Roanoke College poll shows Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump closing the gap, but still trailing behind Democrat Hillary Clinton among likely voters in Virginia.

The poll, released Thursday morning, interviewed 841 likely voters in Virginia between September 11 and September 20 and has a margin of error of +3.4 percent.

Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump has cut more than half of Democrat Hillary Clinton’s lead in a month, but still trails by seven percent among likely voters in Virginia (44 percent-37 percent), according to the poll.

Libertarian Gary Johnson remained steady with 8 percent of likely voters, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein dropped to 1 percent, while 9 percent remain undecided.

In a two-way match-up, Clinton’s lead extends to 11 points (51 percent-40 percent). Clinton led by 16 in the August Roanoke College Poll (48 percent-32 percent).

With the percentage of undecided voters remaining steady, Clinton’s vote share declined by 4 percent since August while Trump’s share increased by 5 percent.

The primary differences in level of support over the past month are ideological moderates, where Clinton’s lead has declined from 57 percent-22 percent in August to 45 percent-29 percent currently and partisan Independents, where Clinton still leads (37 percent-29 percent) but by a smaller margin than in August (43 percent-25 percent).

Clinton still claims the support of 88 percent of Democrats, while Trump has inched to 81 percent. Both of those are within the margin of error with August.

Still, there is no love-fest for either candidate. Clinton’s favorable ratings (38 percent favorable; 49 percent unfavorable) declined marginally from August, while Trump’s improved somewhat, but are still quite low (27 percent favorable; 58 percent unfavorable).

Vice-presidential candidate and U.S. Senator for Virginia Tim Kaine is viewed favorably by a majority (51 percent) of respondents. Republican vice-presidential candidate Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana has a favorable rating of 33 percent, but one-third (33 percent) don’t know enough about him to have an opinion.

As is typical, economic issues were thought to be most important by a plurality of voters (29 percent), and those voters favored Trump by a 48 percent-32 percent margin. A relatively large number of other issues caught the attention of respondents, and most of those issues cut in favor of Clinton.

Clinton was preferred by likely voters to Trump on a variety of issues, including terrorism (54 percent-40 percent), health care (57 percent-34 percent), race relations (64 percent-23 percent), immigration (53 percent-41 percent), and foreign policy (63 percent-30 percent), but voters think Trump would better handle the economy (50 percent-45 percent) and firearms policy (48 percent-43 percent).

A plurality of respondents (38 percent) see Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was Secretary of State as a criminal act, while 19 percent think it was reckless, but not criminal, and 30 percent see it as a mistake or poor judgment. Only 10 percent said it not a big deal at all. Regarding her statement to the FBI about the notation of “c” on some documents, only 22 percent said they believed her claim that she thought it referred to alphabetical labeling of paragraphs and not “confidential.”

Regarding immigration and “the wall,” one of Donald Trump’s signature issues, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of likely voters think illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. should be allowed to stay and eventually apply for citizenship, while only 20 percent think they should be required to leave. Specifically addressing the wall, more than half (54 percent) thinks it is a bad idea.


Interviewing for The Roanoke College Poll was conducted by The Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College in Salem between September 11 and September 20, 2016. A total of 841 likely voters in Virginia were interviewed. Telephone interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. The random digit dial sample was obtained from ASDE Survey Sampler and includes both Virginia landline and cell phone exchanges so that all cell phone and residential landline telephone numbers, including unlisted numbers from Virginia exchanges, had a known chance of inclusion. Cell phones constituted 35 percent of the completed interviews.

Questions answered by the entire sample of 841 likely voters are subject to a sampling error of plus or minus approximately 3.4 percent at the 95 percent level of confidence. This means that in 95 out of 100 samples like the one used here, the results obtained should be no more than 3.4 percentage points above or below the figure that would be obtained by interviewing all likely voters in Virginia who have a home telephone or a cell phone. Where the results of subgroups are reported, the sampling error is higher.

Quotas were used to ensure that different regions of the Commonwealth were proportionately represented. The data were statistically weighted for gender, race, age, and political party. Weighting was done to match the demographic groups’ representation in the 2012 Virginia exit poll. The margin of error was not adjusted for design effects due to weighting.

More information about the Poll may be obtained by contacting Dr. Harry Wilson at or (540) 375-2415 or the Roanoke College Public Relations Office at (540) 375-2282.

The Roanoke College Poll is funded by Roanoke College as a public service.