Rep. Dave Brat is tied with his Democratic opponent with just eight days to go before the Nov. 6 midterm elections, a new poll shows.
Among the 871 likely voters polled by Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center for Public Integrity from Oct. 17 through Oct. 28, Democrat Abigail Spanberger led Brat, 46 percent to 45 percent, well within the margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percent.
Spanberger’s lead expanded to three points, 48 percent to 45 percent, in a model restricted to the most committed voters.
Virginia’s 7th District, a longtime GOP stronghold, has shown signs of shifting back to Democrats. President Donald Trump had a disapproval rating of 51 percent in the poll, and Democratic incumbent Sen. Tim Kaine had a 5-point edge over Republican challenger Corey Stewart in the state’s Senate race.
Spanberger was lifted in the poll by a 16-point “enthusiasm gap” among Democratic voters, 78 percent of which were “very enthusiastic” about voting. Just 62 percent of Republicans said they were “very enthusiastic” to vote.
Brat won re-election in 2016 with 58 percent of the vote. But President Donald Trump carried the seat by just 7 points, a margin several Democratic House candidates have erased in special elections since Trump took office.
Independents in the district tended to favor Brat over Spanberger, 46 percent to 38 percent, in the CNU poll.
“Assuming independents favor Brat, as our survey suggests, Spanberger’s best strategy is to drive Democratic turnout as high as possible,” Rachel Bitecofer, an assistant director of CNU’s Wason Center, said.
“This district has a significant structural advantage for Republicans. But that advantage can be overcome with strong turnout in the Richmond suburbs,” Bitecofer said. “Democratic turnout will determine which candidate prevails on Election Day.”
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