Another poll released Monday confirms what has already been widely known: Next year’s race in Virginia to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Jim Webb is going to be close.
In a survey among likely voters, Republican George Allen leads Democrat Tim Kaine, both frontrunners for their respective nominations, 42 percent to 39 percent, with 19 percent undecided. The Roanoke College poll surveyed 601 likely voters between September 6 and September 17, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.
Recent polls have also put the two former governors in statistical dead heats in the race. The Washington Times reported Monday that poll results in the race have remained consistent, even as President Obama’s approval ratings have faltered in the state.
In the Roanoke College poll, 39 percent of respondents approved of Mr. Obama’s job performance, compared to 54 percent who disapproved. A generic Republican leads Mr. Obama 41-33 in a 2012 match-up in the state, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads 45-37, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry leads 42-40 — within the poll’s margin of error. Mr. Obama did lead Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann 46-35, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican, 43-33, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin 50-31.
A plurality of respondents, or 49 percent, thought Virginia was on the right track, but an overwhelming majority — 81 percent — said that the country was on the wrong track. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner both continue to enjoy high marks. Each received 67 percent approval ratings from respondents in the poll.
“While the election of 2012 is still a long way off-14 months is an eternity in political time-it appears that the Senate race may well be nip-and-tuck for the next year and beyond,” said Harry Wilson, director of the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research. “At the same time, President Obama’s campaign has to be concerned about the possibility of losing Virginia in 2012 after putting the state in the Democratic column in 2008. He not only trails the generic Republican candidate, but he is also currently behind the two front-runners for the Republican nomination — Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. An approval rating of only 39 percent should add to his worries. Still, he leads several potential Republican nominees.”