- The Washington Times - Monday, October 30, 2006

Democrat James H. Webb Jr. leads Republican Sen. George Allen for the first time in a statewide poll for Virginia’s U.S. Senate race.

If the Nov. 7 election were held today, Mr. Webb would receive 48 percent of the vote to Mr. Allen’s 46 percent, the poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports shows.

Of the 500 likely voters questioned in Sunday’s telephone survey, 2 percent favored another candidate and 5 percent were undecided.

The margin of error is 4.5 percentage points, which means the two men still are statistically tied.

A Rasmussen poll taken last week showed Mr. Allen leading 47 percent to 44 percent.

Over the course of the campaign, Mr. Allen’s lead has eroded steadily. Last fall, before any Democrat had declared a candidacy for Senate, Mr. Allen, a former governor, held a lead of more than 30 points. In the summer, he led Mr. Webb by 16 points.

In the latest Rasmussen poll, Mr. Webb leads with 51 percent to 46 percent for Mr. Allen when the results include “leaners,” or undecided voters who are leaning toward one candidate. When leaners are included, 3 percent remained undecided.

Of the Webb voters in the poll, 43 percent said they would choose the Democrat as a way to vote “against Allen.”

Issues were more important to 82 percent of those surveyed, while 14 percent said questions of character are more important.

Mr. Allen’s recent criticism of salacious passages in Mr. Webb’s novels did not seem to sway voters in the senator’s direction.

Though many Allen supporters have said the depictions of incest and an acrobatic stripper raise questions about Mr. Webb’s character, many of those surveyed disagreed.

In the poll, 59 percent said the passages caused them no concern about Mr. Webb, and 39 percent said they were of concern.

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