On behalf of the Washington Post and George Mason University, Abt Associates takes a look at the June 13 Democratic primary for governor of Virginia and finds a tight race. Ex-Rep. Tom Perriello leads Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam 40-38. Perriello, who went on to serve in the Obama State Department after his 2010 defeat, has the support of influential national progressives like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and former Obama campaign officials. Northam is the choice of state Democrats like Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. Abt also polled the GOP primary, but the survey’s 264-person sample size is below the 300-person minimum that Daily Kos Elections considers acceptable.
The only other primary survey we’ve seen in the last few weeks was a PPP poll for the pro-Northam Virginia Education Association, which gave the lieutenant governor a 45-35 lead, a small drop from the 42-28 Northam edge they found in April. As the University of Virginia’s Kyle Kondik points out, the primary difference between Abt and PPP’s read on the contest is how they think African American voters are breaking. Abt gives Perriello a 6-point lead with this group, while PPP has Northam up by 26 points. At this point, we don’t have enough information to say which pollster is closer. Previous polls found most voters undecided, but with less than a month to go before the primary both sides have started to run commercials and voters are begining to pay more attention.