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Poll: Obama, Romney Tied in Battleground Virginia

Poll: Obama, Romney Tied in Battleground Virginia

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - July 19, 2012


Mitt Romney has closed the gap in the critical swing state of Virginia, according to a new poll that finds the presumptive GOP nominee running even with President Obama.

The Quinnipiac University survey shows Romney and Obama each attracting 44 percent of the support from Old Dominion registered voters. The president led by five points last month and by eight points in March. The poll comes as a Rasmussen Reports survey of likely voters also finds the pair in a dead heat, with Obama garnering 47 percent to Romney’s 46 percent.

In 2008, Obama became the first Democrat since Lyndon Johnson to carry Virginia. Demographic shifts in the state have been encouraging for Democrats hoping to repeat that victory. But there also have been positive signs for the GOP in the past four years, as voters have elected a Republican governor and state legislature, as well as several members of its congressional delegation. The RealClearPolitics average shows Obama leading by just 1.2 percent.

By a slim 47 percent to 44 percent margin, voters say Romney would do a better job handling the economy than Obama. But a majority of voters (59 percent to 36 percent) agree with the president’s economic plan of raising taxes on those earning $250,000 or more each year. The president has called upon Congress to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for those making below that threshold. Under this extension, income earners across the spectrum would receive cuts on the first $250,000 they make, but would be ineligible for cuts beyond that threshold.

Each candidate receives ample support from his respective base, but independents are virtually split: 40 percent support Obama while 38 percent back Romney. Obama leads by five points among women in the state, while Romney leads by four points among men. Obama leads among those earning $50,000 or less in annual income, while Romney leads among those who earn above that amount.

The president’s approval rating has slipped underwater in the past month: 51 percent disapprove of the job he is doing, while 45 percent approve. In June, 48 percent approved (47 percent disapproved). And while Obama leads Romney among independents and women, these voting blocs give him poor performance grades. Fifty-three percent of independents disapprove while 42 percent approve. Among women, 49 percent disapprove while 46 percent approve.

But perhaps more damaging to the incumbent: 50 percent of voters say Obama does not deserve a second term in the White House, while 47 percent say he does. Forty-nine percent to 45 percent of independents say the president does not deserve a second term.

Neither candidate is particularly likable: Romney receives a negative favorability rating of 39 percent to 42 percent. Voters are more evenly divided on the president: 46 percent find him favorable while 48 percent do not.

Political observers say the Obama-Romney race in Virginia will likely have a significant impact on the U.S. Senate race there -- a contest between two former governors that could determine the balance of power in the upper chamber. Quinnipiac finds Republican George Allen edging Democrat Tim Kaine, 46 percent to 44 percent. Kaine tops Allen among independents, 44 percent to 42 percent, and among women, 45 percent to 42 percent. Allen leads among men, 50 percent to 43 percent. Allen’s central line of attack against his opponent is Kaine’s ties to the president. Kaine was an early endorser of Obama’s 2008 presidential bid, and he served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee last cycle. But 61 percent of voters here say Obama is not a factor in their choice for senator. Meanwhile, 19 percent see their Senate vote as a vote against Obama, while 15 percent see it as a vote for the president.

Allen and Kaine will likely run neck-and-neck until Election Day, as both are extremely well known in the state. Rasmussen also found the candidates in a dead heat, with Kaine edging Allen, 46 percent to 45 percent.

Quinnipiac surveyed 1,673 registered voters from July 10-16. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points. Rasmussen surveyed 500 likely Virginia voters from July 16-17. The sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. 

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at chueyburns@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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