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PPP: McDonnell Maintains Slim Lead Over Deeds In VA Governor’s Race

Public Policy Polling is out with a new poll of the Virginia Governor’s Race and, as with the other polls we’ve seen recently, it shows that Bob McDonnell’s once substantial margin is much, much slimmer:

Creigh Deeds has now pulled to within five points of Bob McDonnell in the race to be Virginia’s next Governor, and most of the remaining undecided voters are Democrats.

McDonnell leads 48-43. A month ago his lead was 49-42 and the month before that it peaked at 51-37.

McDonnell owes his continuing advantage to two primary factors: a 53-37 lead among independents and a much higher degree of unity within his party than Deeds enjoys. He is winning 96% of the Republican vote while Deeds is at 82% of the Democratic vote.

Deeds appears to have more room to grow. 53% of the remaining undecideds are Democrats while only 7% are Republicans. Although the fact that Deeds has not locked up those votes yet does show some degree of lukewarmness toward his campaign, those voters are still more than likely going to end up ‘coming home.’

The increasingly negative tone of the race appears to be hurting both candidates’ standing with the voters. McDonnell’s net favorability has dropped from +22 (53/31) a month ago to now just +5 (47/42). Deeds has seen a similar although less dramatic decline from +12 (47/35) to +1 (43/42).

Delving deeper into the poll, we find the following:

  • Deeds leads McDonnell in Northern Virginia 48% to 43% with 7% undecided
  • 39% of voters in Northern Virginia say that the thesis issue makes it less likely for them to vote for McDonnell, 52% says it has no impact on their decision
  • Both candidates have generally identical approval/disapproval ratings in Northern Virginia. For Deeds its 45% approve, 43% disapprove. For McDonnell its 49% disapprove, 43% approve.
  • McDonnell gets the support of 94% of the people who say they voted for Jerry Kilgore in 2005; Deeds only gets the support of 79% of the people who say they voted for Tim Kaine
  • A rather surprising 92% of voters say they are “solidly committed” to their chosen candidate

The thing that I’d be worried about if I were the Deeds campaign isn’t so much that the margin has tightened over the past month, but the fact that their candidate still isn’t breaking over 50%. That could be a sign of trouble come November.

Interestingly, the tightening in the Governor’s race doesn’t seem to have had much of an impact on the down-ballot races:

Down ballot Bill Bolling leads Jody Wagner 43-35 for Lieutenant Governor and Ken Cuccinelli is up 43-34 on Steve Shannon for Attorney General.

So, right now, it looks like the Republicans will take at least two of the three statewide races. Of course, it’s the third one that matters.

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