Republican George Allen holds a 3-point lead over Democrat Tim Kaine in the U.S. Senate race in Virginia, according to a new survey conducted for Mr. Allen’s campaign by the firm of GOP pollster John McLaughlin — another signal that the recent bounce Republicans are enjoying has not yet faded.
Both candidates have largely shored up their bases — 92 percent of Democrats favor Mr. Kaine in the U.S. Senate race, and 92 percent of Republicans support Mr. Allen.
But Mr. Allen’s 3-point lead, at 49 percent to 46 percent, is driven by independents, who back the Republican by a 6-point margin, 47 percent to 41 percent. Both candidates have 49 percent favorability ratings, but Mr. Kaine’s unfavorables are higher than Mr. Allen’s, at 44 percent to 38 percent.
Though the gap is within the poll’s margin of error of 4 percentage points, the numbers come at a time when Mr. Kaine had appeared to be inching ahead slightly in the neck-and-neck race.
Mr. Allen can also take comfort in the fact that Mitt Romney enjoys a sizable 7-point advantage over President Obama in Virginia, at 51 percent to 44 percent. Until recently, Mr. Obama has consistently outpolled Mr. Kaine in the state, holding leads ranging from sizable to slim as Mr. Allen and Mr. Kaine remained essentially deadlocked. Mr. McLaughlin’s poll shows Mr. Obama faltering with independents in the state; however, Mr. Romney has an 11-point edge, at 50 percent to 39 percent.
The poll of 600 likely voters was taken Oct. 8 and 9, the day of and the day after the fourth debate of the cycle between Mr. Kaine and Mr. Allen. The party sampling of the poll, structured to correlate with actual voter turnout in a statewide presidential election, was 30.5 percent Republican, 30.3 percent Democrat and 38.2 percent independent.