Bernie Sanders to win Charlottesville on Super Tuesday, Skelley says

Original: The Cavalier Daily  February 22, 2016

With Super Tuesday only a week away, a recent poll is saying Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump may have the upper hand in the Virginia primaries — but it will be close.

In a poll published by Christopher Newport University Feb. 16, Trump leads with 28 percent of Republican voters’ support and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) following closely behind at 22 percent.

The poll also shows Clinton leading Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) 52 percent to 40 percent.

Despite the close numbers, Republican presidential candidate Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) has been the only contestant of to visit Virginia in the past week, although Sanders is scheduled to visit Norfolk Tuesday.

Geoffrey Skelley, media relations coordinator for the University’s Center of Politics, said to expect more candidates to visit in the coming days since Virginia is a crucial state to win in the primary process, especially for Republicans.

“There are 14 Republican contests on [March 1] and Virginia has got the fifth biggest numbers of delegates in the state,” Skelley said. “And obviously from a general election context Virginia is very important, so there may be some added focus on Virginia just because of its place as perhaps the most important state.”

Virginia has closely matched the national outcome in the past two presidential elections, Skelley said.

Skelley said Rubio could beat Trump in the Virginia Republican primary, but described the race as uncertain.

“I would not write off Rubio edging Trump,” Skelley said. “I can see that happening in Virginia, but I think you have to consider Trump a slight favorite.”

Skelley said he expects Rubio to do well in the more urban areas of Virginia such as northern Virginia, Richmond, Henrico County and Chesterfield County, while Trump will probably have a lot of support in the southwestern part of the state and southside Virginia.

Trump has shown a trend of not polling well with educated voters, Skelley said.

“The only really easily identifiable trend with Trump is … the more education someone has the worse he does,” Skelley said. “Among college graduates, Trump does worse.”

Skelley said Rubio has done better among college graduates.

“The point is that in places that are going to have more college voters, Trump may not do as well there,” Skelley said.

College Republicans President Jay Boyd, a fourth-year College student, said Rubio may have a chance at beating Trump in Virginia.

“While [Rubio] might have some momentum, Trump is still the one candidate who has definitively proven that he can win something,” Boyd said.

However, Rubio was the only candidate to get on the ballot using only volunteer efforts, Boyd said.

“A place like Virginia is a place where [Rubio] can win because Rubio is the only candidate to get on the ballot using only volunteer efforts,” Boyd said. “Every other campaign used some kind of paid staff to get on the ballot.”

Boyd said recent events like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) requiring the resignation of his campaign spokesperson Rick Tyler and Gov. John Kasich’s comments about women leaving their kitchens to support him in his political career may harm their campaigns.

“The race is mostly between Trump and Rubio. I don’t see Cruz getting much support,” Boyd said.

University Democrats President Sam Tobin, a third-year College student, agreed the contest is mostly between Trump and Rubio.

“I think Trump has a lot of supporters from all over the place who are older and less educated,” Tobin said. “The more educated Republicans tend to go for Rubio. It’s going to be interesting.”

Meanwhile, Tobin, Boyd and Skelley all said they think Clinton will win the Virginia Democratic primary.

Skelley said Virginia’s demographics favor Clinton.

“She has strong African-American support, and African-Americans probably make up about a third of the primary electorate on the democratic side, so she is going to expect to be able to win Virginia,” Skelley said.

Tobin said he expects Hillary to do well in Southern states and Sanders to perform well in Northern states on Super Tuesday.

“Overall, she would win Virginia, but it’s going to be close,” Tobin said.

Tobin also said he thinks Charlottesville will be more supportive of Sanders because of the college student population, while Richmond and northern Virginia will favor Clinton because she does well with older voters.

“I think Charlottesville will be more pro-[Sanders] because of all the college students,” Tobin said.

Skelley said he sees Sanders as being in a good position to win in Charlottesville and said the only campaign signs he has seen are those supporting him.

“The only guarantee that I can make is that Bernie Sanders will win [in Charlottesville] on the Democratic side,” Skelley said. “That I can guarantee.”