Friday, October 28, 2005

Democrat Timothy M. Kaine has pulled 2 percentage points ahead of Republican Jerry W. Kilgore in the Virginia governor’s race a little more than a week before Election Day, a statewide poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports shows.

Mr. Kaine, the current lieutenant governor, received support from 46 percent of survey respondents, and Mr. Kilgore, the former attorney general, was backed by 44 percent of the respondents, the poll shows.

State Sen. H. Russell Potts, a Winchester Republican who is running as an independent, won support from 4 percent of the respondents.

Scott Rasmussen, president of the New Jersey-based polling firm, said the race is still “too close to call,” noting that the survey’s margin of error is plus-or-minus 4.5 percentage points.

“In the spring and through much of the summer, the presumption was that Virginia was a Republican-leaning state [and] Kilgore should be able to take advantage and win a comfortable but decisive victory,” Mr. Rasmussen said. “The fact that it has gone to a tossup is a fundamental shift in the nature of this election.”

From mid-June to early August, Mr. Kilgore led by six points, then by three points in mid-September in the Rasmussen polls. The two major candidates were tied at 45 percent late last month.

Mr. Kilgore had a two-percentage-point lead over Mr. Kaine after their final televised debate Oct. 9, according to Rasmussen Reports.

Other polls have highlighted the closeness of the race. A poll conducted last week by Hotline showed Mr. Kaine in the lead, while a Mason-Dixon poll had Mr. Kilgore on top.

Mr. Rasmussen said it is impossible to tell whether Mr. Kilgore has lost votes to Mr. Potts, who had support among 1 percent of respondents earlier this month.

“It is interesting that Potts has gone up in this process and Kilgore has lost total ground,” he said. “[But] that may reflect some hesitation with Kilgore. It may also reflect people having a stronger desire to express displeasure with both candidates.”

In down-ticket contests, the Rasmussen survey found:

• Republican state Sen. Bill Bolling had 43 percent of respondents’ support and Democrat Leslie L. Byrne 41 percent in the race for lieutenant governor.

• Republican state Delegate Bob McDonnell had 43 percent of respondents’ support and Democratic state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds 39 percent in the race for attorney general.

The latest Rasmussen survey results can be seen online here. The survey was conducted by telephone Wednesday among 500 likely Virginia voters.

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