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Obama’s approval falls to 40 percent of Virginia voters

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A new poll shows President Obama's approval rating has dropped in Virginia, a battleground state he won in 2008 and likely will need again to win re-election.

The Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday shows Mr. Obama's approval rating at 40 percent, compared to 48 percent in June.

Mr. Obama's victory in Virginia three years ago marked the first time a Democratic presidential candidate won the state since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

The Quinnipiac poll, based on phone interviews with 1,368 registered Virginia voters from Sept. 7 to 12, also shows the president's disapproval rating has increased since June, from 48 percent to 54 percent.

Voters, by a 51 percent to 41 percent margin, also said Mr. Obama does not deserve re-election, compared to the 47-47 split in the June poll.

Independents, crucial to Mr. Obama in 2008, disapprove 62 percent to 29 percent, compared to 54 and 41 in June, according to the poll.

The poll also shows the president's numbers in potential match-ups against GOP contenders are similar to those in other polls.

Mr. Obama leads Texas Gov. Rick Perry 44 percent to 42 percent but trails former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by the same numbers. However, both races are considered a tie because the numbers are within the poll's 2.7 percent margin of error.

Mr. Romney leads Mr. Obama 44 percent to 35 percent among independents, while Mr. Perry and the president were tied at 40 percent.

"At this point, Romney and Perry both are in a horse race against President Barack Obama," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "The big difference is among independent voters."

Against Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, the president leads 48 percent to 37 percent. And he leads 50 percent to 35 percent against former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin if she were to run.

Both parties have made it clear that Virginia will be a key state next year. Mr. Obama traveled to Richmond last week to pitch his jobs plan, and Mr. Perry delivered speeches Wednesday at Liberty University in Lynchburg and at a Republican Party of Virginia fundraiser in Richmond.

Mr. Perry leads all GOP candidates in a hypothetical Virginia GOP primary with 25 percent of the vote, followed by Mr. Romney with 19 percent and all other candidates in single digits. Mrs. Bachmann was at 5 percent and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. was at 1 percent, according to the poll.

"While this is our first look at the GOP presidential race in Virginia, Bachmann's 5 percent showing could be a real body blow to her White House hopes," Mr. Brown said.

Mr. Perry leads Mr. Romney 43 percent 36 percent in a head-to-head contest in the Republican primary, according to the poll.

"Rick Perry's campaign sees carrying the South in the nomination race as critical and the data from the capital of the Confederacy gives him reason to be optimistic," Mr. Brown said.

Mr. Perry had 51 percent of the vote among white, evangelical Christians, compared to 29 percent for Mr. Romney.

In the closely watched race for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Jim Webb, Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine, both former Virginia governors, are in a dead heat.

Mr. Allen holds a 45 percent to 44 percent lead over Mr. Kaine, statistically unchanged from June when Mr. Kaine led 43 percent to 42 percent. However, Mr. Kaine hold a 42 percent to 40 percent advantage over Mr. Allen among independent voters in a head-to-head race, according to the poll.

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