- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 15, 2005

Republican Jerry W. Kilgore’s lead in the Virginia gubernatorial race has slipped, putting him in a statistical dead heat with Democrat Timothy M. Kaine, a new statewide poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports shows.

If the election were held today, Mr. Kilgore would receive 43 percent of the vote, and Mr. Kaine would capture 40 percent, the survey of 500 likely Virginia voters shows. The lead is statistically insignificant because it is within the margin of error, plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Independent candidate H. Russell Potts Jr. would receive 5 percent of the vote, the poll showed. Ten percent of voters were undecided.

The results of the poll were provided to The Washington Times yesterday. The New Jersey-based Rasmussen surveyed the voters by telephone Wednesday. This is the first Rasmussen poll that named Mr. Potts as a candidate.

An Aug. 3 Rasmussen poll showed Mr. Kilgore with a six-point lead over Mr. Kaine, getting 45 percent to the Democrat’s 39 percent. Mr. Kilgore, the former attorney general, also held a six-point lead over Mr. Kaine, the lieutenant governor, in July.

“It still appears there is room for this race to go either way,” said Scott Rasmussen, president of the polling firm.

Mr. Rasmussen said both major party candidates can pull good news from the poll — Mr. Kilgore is still leading, and for Mr. Kaine it is still a very close race.

Mr. Rasmussen said this is the first poll his firm has conducted since Labor Day, when voters typically begin to pay attention to politics.

The latest Rasmussen poll was conducted a day after a televised debate between Mr. Kaine and Mr. Kilgore. The debate was held in Northern Virginia.

Afterward, Mr. Kaine debated Mr. Potts in an education forum, which Mr. Kilgore did not attend. Mr. Kilgore has refused to debate Mr. Potts, a Republican state senator from Winchester.

Unless Mr. Potts receives 15 percent in two statewide polls, he will not be included in the final debate between Mr. Kaine and Mr. Kilgore in Richmond Oct. 9.

The latest Rasmussen poll also showed that 71 percent of those surveyed think taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund day-laborer shelters for legal immigrants and illegal aliens. Eighteen percent said taxpayer funds should go to such centers and 10 percent were not sure.

Immigration has become a key issue in the governor’s race and shows a clear distinction between Mr. Kilgore and Mr. Kaine.

Mr. Kilgore has said Fairfax County officials are encouraging illegal immigration by granting $400,000 in taxpayer funds to address the day-labor problem in Herndon, Annandale, Springfield and Culmore.

Mr. Kaine has said he is against illegal immigration but thinks localities like Herndon should be allowed to make decisions on such local public safety problems. Officials in Herndon recently approved the establishment of a day-laborer center, which will be funded partly by the Fairfax County grant.

A poll conducted by The Washington Post last week showed Mr. Kilgore receiving 45 percent of the vote and Mr. Kaine 41 percent. Mr. Potts received 5 percent. Among likely voters, Mr. Kilgore’s lead was seven points.

A Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc. poll taken in July had Mr. Kaine receiving 38 percent of the vote, Mr. Kilgore 37 percent and Mr. Potts 9 percent.

In fundraising, the latest campaign finance figures show Mr. Kilgore in the lead, mostly because of a $1.5 million donation from the Republican Governors Association and a private fundraising dinner with President Bush held in July.

As of Aug. 30, Mr. Kilgore has raised $13.9 million and has $6.75 million cash on hand. Mr. Kaine has $13.3 million and $5.7 million cash on hand. Both men have been airing statewide television ads this month.

Mr. Potts has raised about $1.3 million and has more than $463,000 on hand. He will begin airing television ads this weekend, his spokesman Mike McCall said.

Voters surveyed in the latest Rasmussen poll favor Mr. Kilgore’s plan to allow regional referendums to raise taxes for transportation over Mr. Kaine’s proposal to hold the line on taxes until the Transportation Trust Fund is locked.

The Kilgore plan received 46 percent of the vote and the Kaine plan 30 percent. Mr. Potts’ proposal to raise $2 billion in taxes to pay for roads received 9 percent of the vote. Mr. Potts announced his plan Monday, two days before the poll was taken. Rasmussen asked whether voters thought the $1.38 billion tax increase passed by the legislature in 2004 was good or bad for Virginia. The results showed 46 percent thought it was good, 38 percent thought it was bad and 16 percent were unsure.

Of those surveyed, 59 percent think voter approval should be required for all state tax increases, while 35 percent do not. Voter referendums are a key issue for Mr. Kilgore, who opposed last year’s tax increase and asked that the package, which included tax cuts, be put to the voters.

Those surveyed ranked the economy as the most important determining factor in their vote, followed by health care, education and taxes.

The election is Nov. 8.

More info:

Rasmussen Reports poll

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