Does Trump Hurt Gillespie in the Latest Virginia Polling?

FILE - In this Tuesday, March 21, 2017 photo, Republican gubernatorial candidate, Ed Gillespie, gestures during a kitchen table discussion at a private home in Toano, Va. Gillespie faces fellow Republicans, State Sen. Frank Wagner, and Corey Stewart in the June 13th primary. Virginia primary voters will select candidates for the nation's marquee race for governor, without any recommendations so far from President Donald Trump or former President Barack Obama on who to vote for. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

Monmouth University put out the second poll of the race between Ed Gillespie and Ralph Northam to be the next Governor of Virginia. Their take is that Donald Trump is a drag on the GOP, but is that the case?

Hillary Clinton did win Virginia’s electoral votes, by virtue of winning the popular vote 50-44. So it makes sense to ask if Trump would threaten Gillespie’s chances of knocking off Lieutenant Governor Northam, when he just barely failed to beat Senator Mark Warner 49-48 in 2014.

However it seems like a stretch for Monmouth to press the issue when Gillespie is running so far ahead of Donald Trump. Trump is running at -20 approval (37-57) in the Monmouth poll, but Gillespie is even (44-44) with Northam. That means 7% of the electorate disapproves of Trump but backs Gillespie, while 13% more of the electorate disapproves of Trump but does not back either candidate.

Further, the first poll we had in the state showed a Northam lead, so the Monmouth result represents Gillespie gaining on Northam.

Is Trump a drag on Gillespie? So far the numbers look like the answer is “No, he’s not.” Gillespie has never been a strong Trump supporter, and defeated one in the primary. He seems well positioned to keep his distance, despite having to make mild statements about the President to win over Trump’s supporters.