By Dr. Harry Wilson

RC Poll: Clinton opens wide lead over Trump in Va.

Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has opened a 16-point lead over Republican Donald Trump among likely voters in Virginia (48%-32%), according to The Roanoke College Poll. Libertarian Gary Johnson received the support of 8 percent of likely voters, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein trailed the field with 3 percent, while 9 percent remain undecided. In a two-way matchup, Clinton's lead extends to 19 points (55%-36%). The candidates were tied in the May Roanoke College Poll.

The Roanoke College Poll interviewed 803 likely voters in Virginia between August 7 and August 17 and has a margin of error of +3.5 percent.

Voters care about outcome, but not pleased with candidates

Nearly two-thirds of likely voters (64%) said they were very interested in the campaign (27% were somewhat interested), and 88 percent said they care a good deal about who wins the presidential election. Democrats (71%) are now more likely to be very interested in the campaign compared to Republicans (61%), and more likely to care a good deal about who wins (93% of Democrats; 67% of Republicans).

Clinton has improved her standing among Democrats since May (91% support her now compared to 78% in May), and Trump's support among Republicans has declined slightly from 80 percent in May to 78 percent in August. Clinton holds strong leads among both political Independents (43%-25%) and self-described moderates (57%-22%). About half (49%) of Clinton supporters said their vote was more of a vote for her than against Trump (38%), while Trump backers were more likely to say their vote is one against Clinton (49%) rather than for him (35%).

Clinton's favorable ratings, though not good, have improved from May (39% favorable; 45% unfavorable compared to 35% and 50% in May), while Trump's numbers are very poor and marginally worse than in May (23% favorable; 63% unfavorable down from 23% and 56%).

We asked how voters would feel if either candidate was elected president in November. One-in-five (20%) respondents said they would feel proud, with another 32 percent satisfied, but 28 percent would be disgusted if Clinton wins. Those numbers are largely unchanged in three months. Again, Trump's numbers are even worse and very similar to May (7% proud, 27% satisfied, and 49% disgusted). While party affiliation has a large impact on those numbers, 2 percent of Democrats said they would be disgusted with a President Clinton (43% would be proud), while 8 percent of Republicans would be disgusted with a President Trump (only 17% would be proud).

Clinton was preferred by likely voters to Trump on a variety of issues, including the economy (50%-43%), terrorism (55%-38%), health care (57%-33%), race relations (66%-21%), immigration (56%-36%), foreign policy (64%-28%), and firearms policy (47%-43%). Clinton (9% very honest; 39% somewhat honest) was marginally viewed as more honest than Trump (11% very honest; 31% somewhat honest), and 72 percent said she is qualified to be president (42% very qualified; 30% somewhat qualified) compared to 36% who said Trump is qualified (10% very qualified; 26% somewhat qualified). Clinton was also seen as a having a temperament that is fitting for president (72%) compared to 28 percent for Trump. A majority of respondents said she at least somewhat understands the problems of people like them (56%), while just over one-third (36%) said the same about Trump.

Vice-presidential candidate and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine is viewed favorably by a majority (52%) of respondents. That is a significant increase from 32 percent in January, the last time we asked that question. Republican VP candidate Mike Pence has a favorable rating of only 24 percent, but 4-in-10 (40%) don't know enough about him to have an opinion.

“There is no silver lining in this dark cloud for Donald Trump. His numbers are mostly negative and stagnant. ”

Dr. Harry Wilson, director of IPOR


We continue to see major "gaps" among various demographic groups in the Commonwealth. These are most pronounced when looking at race, region, gender, and marital status. None of these are unique to Virginia, but they continue to be important in this election and beyond. Crosstabs may be found here

Job approval; direction of country and state

Nearly six-in-ten (59%) likely voters think the country is on the wrong track, while 34 percent think it is headed in the right direction (slightly more positive than May). Job approval for President Obama is at 52 percent with 37 percent disapproval (up from 45% approval in May). A majority (54%) have a favorable view of President Obama (up 6-points), and 35 percent have an unfavorable view (down 3 points).

Governor Terry McAuliffe's approval is down slightly from 51 percent in May to 46 percent in August, while disapproval is steady at 23 percent. Governor McAuliffe's favorable rating is at 38 percent (down from 44%), and 23 percent of voters (unchanged) hold an unfavorable view of him. On a related topic, likely voters were split with 47 percent agreeing with the state Supreme Court's ruling that McAuliffe's mass restoration of voting rights to convicted felons who have completed their sentences and probation/parole was unconstitutional (44% disagreed).


"Hillary Clinton has improved her position among her core constituencies as well as ideological moderates and political independents," said Dr. Harry Wilson, director of the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research. "She has also improved her favorable ratings although they are still low."

"There is no silver lining in this dark cloud for Donald Trump. His numbers are mostly negative and stagnant. He's still getting less than 80 percent of Republicans, and his supporters are more likely to be voting against Clinton than for him. The election is 11 weeks away, but he has a lot of ground to make up."


Interviewing for The Roanoke College Poll was conducted by The Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College in Salem, Va. between August 7 and August 17, 2016. A total of 803 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 34 percent of the completed interviews.

Questions answered by the entire sample of 803 likely voters are subject to a sampling error of plus or minus approximately 3.5 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 3.5 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.

A copy of the questionnaire and all toplines, as well as crosstabs, may be found on the IPOR website.

More information about the Poll may be obtained by contacting Dr. Harry Wilson at wilson@roanoke.edu 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.

For more about the Institute for Public Opinion Research, click here

CONTACT: Dr. Harry L. Wilson, Director, IPOR
(540) 375-2415 (Office)