Trump's Unpopularity In Region Could Hurt Virginia Republicans, Poll Says Virginia voters say they're less likely to pick a candidate who supports the president.
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Trump's Unpopularity In Region Could Hurt Virginia Republicans, Poll Says

President Donald Trump is introduced during the third inning of Game 5 of the baseball World Series between the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP hide caption

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Baseball fans who packed Nationals Park had a message for President Donald Trump, who watched Game 5 of the World Series Sunday night. As Trump's face appeared on the stadium's giant screens, fans erupted into boos and chants of "Lock him up!"

Political scientist Rachel Bitecofer said that's not out of character for Washington, D.C., which gave the president just 4.1% of its votes in 2016. And she notes the antipathy for the president extends into Virginia — and it may cause problems for Republicans trying to maintain control of the General Assembly in next month's election.

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Bitecofer and Quentin Kidd of Christopher Newport University conducted a poll released Monday that revealed 59% of Virginia voters say they're less likely to pick a candidate who supports the president. The study found 35% of voters would be more likely to choose a Trump backer.

"Trump is just not popular in Virginia and its not just driven by unpopularity among Democrats, it's driven by unpopularity too among independents," Bitecofer said.

Bitecofer surveyed four voting districts, including Loudoun County's 13th Senate District. The poll included 849 registered voters and had a margin of error of 3.8%.

The poll found a majority of voters, including 56% of independents, favors impeaching Trump.

Virginia has always been dicey territory for President Trump; the state voted for Hillary Clinton by a 5% margin. Since 2016, Bitecofer said turnout has increased in Virginia elections, a trend that has favored Democrats.

"The fundamentals have been very suggestive that Democrats are going into Election Day with some significant advantages in terms of fundraising, voter enthusiasm, registration, absentee ballot data ... definitely suggestive that Democrats have an advantage in many districts," she said.

Virginia candidates in the 2019 elections are keenly aware of the national political moment, and what Virginia might signal for next year's presidential election. Democratic Del. Wendy Gooditis, who represents Loudoun County in the House of Delegates, spoke to volunteers Saturday.

"Virginia, you've heard it called the bellwether for how the nation goes, in presidentials," Gooditis said. "House District 10 has been called the bellwether for how Virginia will go. You know what that makes me? The most important Democrat in the United States."

Gooditis faces Randy Minchew, a three-term Republican she unseated in 2017, but who is vying to reclaim his former seat.

Like many Virginia Republicans running this year, Minchew is sticking to local concerns, far from Washington politics. He said he would focus on transportation, quality of life, strong schools and open spaces.

"I've never run on Washington issues, I will never have a job north of the Potomac River in politics," Minchew told WAMU. "But I've stepped up the game a little bit. We started earlier. Two years ago we were not up on cable TV, and we are this year."

Odds might be tough for Republicans in northern Virginia, where county after county has shifted blue in recent years, and where Trump is particularly unpopular. But Republicans in more conservative southern Virginia districts may still see the White House as an asset. Vice President Mike Pence has announced he will headline an election rally with Republicans in a competitive Virginia Beach race Saturday — three days before voters head to the polls on November 5th.

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