NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Republican Donald Trump has pulled to within 7 points of Democrat Hillary Clinton in Virginia, according to a tracking survey released Friday by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. Clinton leads Trump among likely voters in Virginia, 46-39 percent. Her lead had been as high as 15 points earlier in the tracking series.

“True to form for the past several statewide elections in Virginia, Republican voters appear to be coming home late, but coming home,” said Dr. Quentin Kidd, Director of the Wason Center. “That’s good news for Trump, and especially good news for the Republican candidates down-ballot.”

A major factor in Trump’s climb appears to be the return of Republican women to his camp. Clinton continues to lead among women, 46-36 percent. But that gender gap has dropped from 20 points. Also, this survey shows the closing of the significant gap in party loyalty that has favored Clinton since the tracking poll began in September. While 87 percent of Democrats support Clinton, Trump has boosted his support among Republicans to 84 percent, compared with 72 percent in the previous tracking poll.

“Republican women who were holding back or even considering a vote for Clinton, appear to be making peace with Trump as the reality of a Clinton win sinks in,” said Dr. Rachel Bitecofer, Assistant Director of the Wason Center. “That would explain the surge in women saying they will vote for Trump and the way the party loyalty gap has closed.”

Independents continue to favor Clinton, 46 percent to 39 percent, although Trump gained ground with that group of voters, too. Libertarian Gary Johnson has seen his support among Independents decline steadily and dramatically, as voters leave third-party choices and return to the major party candidates.

This survey was conducted Oct. 23-26 among 814 likely Virginia voters. It has an overall margin of error of +/- 4.2%.