UVA Poll on 1997 Virginia Gubernatorial Race
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24, 1997
Tax issue helps put Gilmore in the lead, new U.Va poll finds; Beyer fails to make gains from abortion issue
Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Gilmore has capitalized on the appeal of his plan to eliminate the property tax on cars and trucks to take a five-point lead over Democrat Don Beyer, who has been unable to leverage the abortion issue, according to a poll released today by the University of Virginia's Center for Survey Research.
Gilmore was the favorite of 43.4 percent of registered Virginia voters, while 38.6 percent supported Beyer. The remainder were undecided (16 percent) or supported a third candidate (2 percent). The survey of 637 registered voters throughout the Commonwealth was conducted from October 5 through October 17, and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
Property tax plan a winner for Gilmore
Jim Gilmore has built on the appeal of his plan to eliminate property taxes on cars and trucks. Gilmore's plan is favored by a majority of the electorate (52 percent), while Don Beyer's proposed income tax credit is preferred by 24 percent. (The remainder had no preference.) The appeal of the Gilmore plan cuts across party lines: It was preferred by 57 percent of Republicans, as well as 45 percent of Democrats. The Beyer plan enjoys the support of only 16 percent of Republicans and 28 percent of Democrats.
In an unusual experiment, the survey first described each tax plan, then asked respondents to identify which candidate had sponsored it. Gilmore was correctly identified as the architect of the plan to eliminate the property tax, by a full 57 percent of the sample. In contrast, only 41 percent of registered voters were able to name Beyer as the candidate behind the proposed tax credit. "Gilmore is benefiting not only from higher levels of support for his plan, but from a higher level of recognition as the plan's sponsor," said U.Va. Sociology professor Thomas M. Guterbock, director of the Center for Survey Research and co-director of the poll.
Abortion Focus Slow to Benefit Beyer
Beyer has been unable to capitalize on his highly visible support for abortion rights, the survey found. While Gilmore is preferred by a majority of people opposed to abortion (54 percent), he also enjoys substantial support from the pro-choice camp. Among respondents agreeing with the statement, "By law, a woman should always be able to obtain an abortion as a matter of personal choice," Gilmore is the choice of a full 33 percent; Beyer was preferred by less than half of this key pro-choice constituency (49 percent). Even among pro-choice women, Gilmore enjoys the support of almost one-quarter (24 percent). Among voters who felt that abortion should be permitted but with restrictions, the candidates were essentially tied with 41 percent supporting Beyer and 42 percent preferring Gilmore.
Voter Satisfaction Aids Gilmore
"Gilmore appears to be benefiting from relatively high levels of voter satisfaction with the economy and with the incumbent governor," said Paul Freedman, Assistant Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs, and a co-director of the poll. Thirty-eight percent of voters think that Virginia's economy has gotten better over the past year, versus only 11 percent who believe it has gotten worse. And among registered voters whose personal financial situation has improved over the last year, Gilmore enjoys a 16-point lead (50 percent versus 34 percent for Beyer). Moreover, Gilmore is benefiting from high levels of support for incumbent Republican Governor George Allen. Sixty-five percent of Virginia registered voters approve of the job Allen has been doing (50 percent approve of President Clinton's performance). Among these Allen approvers, Gilmore takes a fifteen-point lead (55 percent, versus Beyer's 30 percent).
Gilmore Leads Among Independents; Sharp Gender and Race Gaps Persist
While the candidates are doing equally well among voters from their own party, each has the support of 79 percent of his own partisans. Gilmore enjoys a decided advantage among political independents (42 percent to Beyer's 29 percent). A striking gender gap is also evident: Beyer enjoys a twelve-point advantage among women (47 percent to 35 percent), while Gilmore has an even wider margin of male support (53 percent to 30 percent). "We've come to expect a gender gap in Virginia politics," said Guterbock, "but Gilmore's focus on cars, trucks, and taxes seems to have attracted unusually strong support from men." A racial gap is also apparent: among African-American registered voters, Beyer has a commanding 57-to-14-point lead.
About the poll
This University of Virginia telephone poll of 637 randomly selected registered voters throughout the Commonwealth was conducted from October 5 through October 17, and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points for all respondents. The sample of telephone numbers, provided by Genesys Sampling Systems of Ft. Washington, PA, was selected so as to give equal representation to listed and unlisted households in all regions of the state. The data were weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the Virginia electorate. Students in two classes in the departments of Sociology and Government and Foreign Affairs participated in planning the survey and conducting the interviews, using the computer-assisted telephone interviewing facilities of the Center for Survey Research (CSR) at the University of Virginia. Support for this project was provided by the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of Virginia. For more information about CSR, call (804) 924-6253, or visit www.virginia.edu/surveys on the World Wide Web.
Click here for link to Professor Freedman's data website for GFAP 227. These site allows users to run simple descriptive statistics using the election survey data.
|Registered voters||38.6 (237)||43.4 (267)||1.8 (11)||16.2(100)|
|Men||29.6 (87)||52.8 (156)||1.7 (5)||16.0 (47)|
|Women||47.1 (150)||34.7 (111)||1.9 (6)||16.4 (52)|
|Republicans||8.0 (17)||78.9 (167)||1.1 (2)||12.0 (25)|
|Democrats||78.7 (165)||10.3 (22)||1.9 (4)||9.1 (19)|
|Independents||29.2 (52)||42.1(75)||2.2 (4)||26.4 (47)|
|57.4 (50)||13.9 (12)||3.0 (3)||25.7 (22)|
|White||35.7 (177)||48.6 (241)||1.4 (7)||14.3 (71)|
|Approve||30.2 (121)||54.7 (220)||1.5 (6)||13.7 (55)|
|Disapprove||69.6 (84)||17.0 (21)||1.5 (2)||11.9(14)|
|Better off||33.7 (69)||50.0 (103)||2.6 (5)||13.7 (28)|
|Worse off||40.8 (32)||32.8 (25)||2.7 (2)||23.7 (18)|
|Same||41.7 (135)||41.7 (135)||1.1 (4)||15.6 (50)|
|28.1 (65)||54.2 (125)||1.1 (3)||16.5 (38)|
|Some restrictions||41.3 (40)||41.6 (41)||1.7 (2)||15.4 (15)|
|Always permit||48.8 (125)||32.4 (84)||2.6 (7)||15.7 (40)|
|Favors Gilmore Plan||Favors Beyer Plan|
|Registered voters||51.5 (328)||23.9 (152)|
|Republicans||56.9 (125)||16.4 (36)|
|Democrats||45.3 (97)||28.0 (60)|
|Independents||51.9 (96)||29.2 (54)|
Actual question wording:
GUBERNATORIAL PREFERENCE. If you were voting today for Governor of Virginia, would you vote for
2 GILMORE (REP) 43.4
3 OTHER [VOLUNTEERED] 1.8
4 NOT SURE 16.2
PREFERRED TAX PLAN. One-half of respondents were asked about Gilmore's plan first, one-half were asked about Beyer's plan first. As you may know, both candidates for governor have introduced plans to cut taxes. One plan would eliminate the personal property tax on cars and trucks, on the first $20,000 of assessed value. Do you happen to know which candidate supports this plan: Don Beyer or Jim Gilmore?
2 GILMORE (correct) 57.4
3 DON'T KNOW 27.4
4 OTHER (NEITHER/BOTH) 1.8
Another plan would give a state income tax credit toward the personal property tax on cars and trucks worth up to $250 for families and $150 for individuals. Do you happen to know which candidate supports this plan:
2 GILMORE 21.7
3 DON'T KNOW 36.1
4 OTHER (NEITHER/BOTH) 1.2
And which of these two plans do you think is best? Eliminating the personal property tax or providing a state income tax credit?
2 INCOME TAX CREDIT 23.9
3 NO PREFERENCE/DON'T CARE 9.6
4 PREFER ANOTHER PLAN (VOLUNTEERED) 5.1
5 DON'T KNOW/NO ANSWER 9.9
OPINION ON ABORTION:
Which one of the following four statements best agrees with your view on the issue of abortion:
By law, abortion should never be permitted. 7.9
The law should permit abortion only in case of rape, incest or when the woman's life is in danger. 39.8
BR> The law should permit abortion for other reasons, but with some restrictions. 16.6
By law, a woman should always be able to obtain an abortion as a matter of personal choice. 43.7
APPROVAL OF ALLEN:
Do you approve or disapprove of the way
2 DISAPPROVE 19.4
3 DON'T KNOW/NO ANSWER 15.8
ECONOMY AND PERSONAL FINANCIAL SITUATION:
We are interested in how people are getting along financially these days. Would you say that you are better off or worse off than you were a year ago, or are you about the same?
2 WORSE OFF 13.0
3 ABOUT THE SAME 53.7
And how about the state economy in general? Would you say that over the past year Virginia's economy has gotten better, gotten worse, or stayed about the same?
2 WORSE 12.2
3 ABOUT THE SAME 47.8