Exit poll analysis will explore President Trump’s impact on Virginia, New Jersey races
ABC News(NEW YORK) — Exit poll results in Virginia and New Jersey this evening will explore the prime motivators of voters’ preferences in the two biggest-profile contests since the 2016 presidential election – giving analysts a look at any impact of Donald Trump’s presidency, among other factors.
Preliminary exit poll results in both state’s gubernatorial elections will be available starting at 5 p.m., and we’ll post our analysis here. Results can change as the night progresses, so check back regularly.
One item of interest is Trump’s job approval rating in these states: it’s just 37 percent nationally in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, a low for presidents at the nine-month mark in surveys dating to the Truman presidency. Another is whether voters say they’re casting their vote to show support for Trump, to oppose him, or if he isn’t a factor in their decision.
More than Trump’s potential impact looms over these races. Virginia’s bitterly fought contest pits Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, who represented the Eastern Shore as a state senator but needs wide support in Virginia’s more Democratic north, against Republican Ed Gillespie, who focused his campaign on conservative causes ranging from immigration to Confederate monuments to gun issues.
We’ll review exit poll results on Virginians’ preferences on whether Confederate monuments should be removed (Northam’s position) or left in place, as well as their preference to handle race relations more broadly. We’ll check popularity of the Democratic and Republican parties and job approval of outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe, with an eye toward whether, and to what extent, he aids his lieutenant, Northam.
The condition of the economy may be relevant, including in more prosperous Northern Virginia vs. the south of the state. We’ll also look at top issues of concern, attitudes on gun policy and turnout among key voting groups. Tens of millions of dollars were spent on the Virginia contest, much of it in the closing weeks, and we’ll also be able to see when voters came to their final decisions.
In New Jersey, where outgoing Gov. Chris Christie was re-elected by a vast 22-point margin four years ago, we’ll see to what extent the political tables can turn – including Christie’s current approval rating and any impact he may have on the fate of his lieutenant governor, GOP gubernatorial nominee Kim Guadagno. We’ll also check on views of Democratic nominee Phil Murphy’s past work at Goldman Sachs, as well as ratings of the two major parties and of the state’s two incumbent U.S. senators.
The exit polls are being conducted by the National Election Pool, a media consortium. Through 2016, early state exit poll results like these were adjusted to reflect pre-election polls in that state. Given the errors in some state polls, that approach has been changed starting this year. The NEP now produces an estimate of the typical error in exit polls in a given state in past years, and adjusts the new results on that basis. The adjustment will be removed as actual vote data come in.
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