- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 1, 2001

Democrat Mark R. Warner's lead in the Virginia governor's race remains secure with less than a week to go, according to a new poll.
The latest survey by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research shows Mr. Warner with 48 percent support, Republican Mark L. Earley with 42 percent and Libertarian William B. Redpath with 1 percent. The poll was conducted Monday and Tuesday and has a 4 percent margin of error.
Both candidates spent the day campaigning in the outer Washington suburbs yesterday the last full day they plan to spend in the region before the Nov. 6 election.
The Mason-Dixon poll and other recent polls show that Mr. Warner, an Alexandria businessman, has essentially wrapped up Northern Virginia. He leads in the region with 56 percent support to Mr. Earley's 37 percent.
Mr. Warner was also leading in Hampton Roads and southwestern Virginia, though by lesser margins. The poll showed Mr. Earley is leading in the Shenandoah Valley with 50 percent support to Mr. Warner's 39 percent, and leads in the Richmond area and Southside Virginia by lesser margins.
By comparison, a Washington Post poll published this weekend showed Mr. Warner with 51 percent support and a 10-point lead over Mr. Earley.
Mr. Earley's support has remained unchanged since the last Mason-Dixon poll, released two weeks ago, while Mr. Warner's support climbed three points, inching closer to the 50 percent mark.
The earlier poll had shown Mr. Earley gaining ground on Mr. Warner possibly due to his anti-tax message but Mr. Warner has now re-established a comfortable margin.
The Earley camp holds out hope for a turnaround.
"The only poll that matters is the poll on Election Day. This election is too close to call," said David Botkins, a spokesman for Mr. Earley. "It doesn't reflect the grass-roots support Mark Earley is getting out on the trail, the enthusiasm and the excitement and the reception he's getting. At every stop, the atmosphere has been electric."
But the Warner camp said the poll shows their campaign continuing to build support as undecided voters settle on a choice.
"As more people make up their minds, I think they're finding Mark Warner's message is right on target, and I think Mark Earley's negative message has completely backfired," said Mo Elleithee, a campaign spokesman.
He pointed to voters' negative impression of Mr. Earley, which has gone from 13 percent in September to 27 percent in this week's poll, as evidence of his attacks backfiring. Mr. Warner had a 23 percent unfavorable rating in the new poll, up from 19 percent in September. Mr. Warner's favorable rating is 49 percent, while Mr. Earley's is 39 percent.
Mr. Earley began yesterday morning breakfasting with Stafford County residents, swung through Manassas for a rally and spent the night campaigning in a Halloween parade in Leesburg.
Mr. Warner, meanwhile, began the day waving to voters along the Prince William Parkway, had lunch in Manassas and toured a senior center in Sterling.
Along the way, Mr. Warner toured some businesses in Leesburg's downtown historic area with the town's mayor, B.J. Webb, who is backing his bid for governor. She made her decision after hearing from both candidates recently at a local government forum, where, she said, Mr. Warner talked about proposing solutions and Mr. Earley talked about opposing solutions.

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