[ skip to content ]


Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush holds a 13 percent lead over Democratic nominee Vice President Al Gore in Virginia, according to a recent poll of potential voters in the Nov. 7 general election.

The Old Dominion University/Virginian-Pilot survey was conducted by the Social Science Research Center at Old Dominion between Aug. 14 and Sept. 10.

Gore trails Bush by 6.3 percentage points among registered voters. In Hampton Roads, the race is a virtual tie among registered voters with Gore receiving 41.5 percent of the vote to Bush's 41.4 percent.

The statewide lead for Bush among likely voters (49.2 percent to 36 percent for Gore) is considerably larger than the 4 percent margin that President Bush garnered against Bill Clinton in 1992 and the 2 percent margin of Bob Dole over Clinton in 1996.
In other poll results:

In the race for U.S. Senate, former Gov. George Allen leads incumbent Chuck Robb by 12.4 percent among likely voters statewide; among registered voters, Allen leads by nearly 10 percent. Among registered voters statewide, Allen leads Robb 42.1 percent to 32.2 percent.

Fifty-two percent of respondents would favor an "effective leader" over a "morally good person" (27.1 percent) as president.
While Republicans split nearly equally between the two options (38.8 percent to 33.5 percent in favor of "morally good person"), independents and Democrats clearly prefer an effective leader when forced to choose (50.2 percent of independents and 72.1 percent of Democrats chose "effective leader").

The majority of respondents (57.6 percent to 27 percent) favor presidential candidates who have "a vision for the future of the country" rather than one who "understand(s) people like (voters)."

Respondents favored a presidential candidate with "common sense" rather than "intelligence" (65.7 percent to 15.8 percent). Even among those registered voters with a graduate or professional degree, 60.5 percent thought common sense was more important.

A candidate who was "willing to compromise to get things done" also was preferred over one who "always sticks to his/her positions" (79.9 percent to 13.2 percent).

A president who is "trustworthy" is favored over one who has "experience in public office" (80.4 percent to 10.3 percent).

Statewide, Gore has a substantial lead over Bush among African-American registered voters (67 percent to 9.6 percent). White registered voters back Bush by a margin of 52.1 percent to 32.5 percent.

Generally speaking, the results indicate that a high turnout among Democratic voters could signal a fairly tight race for the presidency in Virginia. While it is unlikely that Al Gore will beat George W. Bush, he might be able to equal Bill Clinton's remarkably strong showing in 1992.

Stephen K. Medvic, assistant professor of political science at Old Dominion University and the author of the survey, notes that two variables that in 1992 that helped Clinton narrow the Republican margin of victory in this state are not present this year: "namely, bad economic conditions that were blamed on a Republican administration and the candidacy of Ross Perot." In the absence of scenarios such as these, George W. Bush should cruise to a comfortable victory in Virginia, Medvic said.

In the closely watched Senate race in Virginia, incumbent Senator Chuck Robb appears to be in serious trouble as former Gov. George Allen maintains a double-digit lead. Though Robb has a slight lead among those who believe that education, health care or the economy are the most important issues facing the nation, the number of such voters is too small to make up for Allen's lead among those who find other issues more important (for example, taxes, defense issues, crime, etc.).

In order to win, Robb will have to convince the vast majority of undecided voters (who make up 25 percent of registered voters in Virginia) to back him on election day.

This article was posted on: September 18, 2000

Old Dominion University
Office of University Relations

Room 100 Koch Hall Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0018
Telephone: 757-683-3114

Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.