- The Washington Times - Monday, October 2, 2006

Virginia Sen. George Allen holds a six-point lead over his Democratic challenger, James H. Webb Jr., a new statewide poll released yesterday shows.

If the election were held today, Mr. Allen, a Republican, would capture 49 percent of the vote, while Mr. Webb would receive 43 percent, according to a telephone survey of 750 likely voters conducted by Rasmussen Reports from Thursday through Sunday.

The data also show 5 percent are undecided and 3 percent would choose some other candidate in the contest.

Election Day is Nov. 7.

The race could hold national implications as well — Democrats need to win six seats to recapture a Senate majority.

Mr. Allen has held a steady lead in the Rasmussen poll for more than a year, but his once double-digit advantage over any challenger was eroded after a summer of campaign blunders.

In an attempt to regain the momentum from Mr. Webb, who is catching up in the fundraising race, Mr. Allen last night spoke to voters in a two-minute statewide televised address.

He also has been battling recent assertions that he used racial epithets to describe blacks when he was in college.

The Rasmussen poll showed Mr. Webb leading Mr. Allen by 39 points among black voters.

Mr. Webb is facing criticism, too, with Mr. Allen running an attack ad using the Democrat’s 1979 article “Women Can’t Fight” in which he criticizes female midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Still, 47 percent of women surveyed in the poll said they prefer Mr. Webb to Mr. Allen. Meanwhile, 57 percent of men said they prefer Mr. Allen.

The poll showed that 49 percent of those surveyed were not familiar with Mr. Webb’s article, saying they had followed news reports on the article either “not very closely” or “not at all.”

By contrast, 81 percent of potential voters said they were following the racial accusations against Mr. Allen either “very closely” or “somewhat closely.”

The poll also showed 11 percent of Republicans would choose Mr. Webb if the election were held today, while 13 percent of Democrats said they would pick Mr. Allen.

Mr. Allen has a 54 percent favorable rating and a 43 percent unfavorable rating, while Mr. Webb had a 48 percent popularity rating.

Most voters told Rasmussen that national security would be the most important issue when deciding the Senate race, followed by the Iraq war and the economy.

The poll also showed President Bush, who has held a fundraiser for Mr. Allen, has a 48 percent approval rating and a 50 percent disapproval rating.

Mr. Webb is running a television ad linking Mr. Allen with Mr. Bush, saying their “stay the course” idea for the Iraq war is not right for Virginia or the nation.

The Rasmussen Senate results matched a SurveyUSA poll, released over the weekend, showing Mr. Allen with a six-point lead. A Mason-Dixon Polling and Research poll conducted last week for MSNBC/McClatchy showed the race tied at 43 percent for each candidate.

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