- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell leads his Democratic rival in the first poll released by Public Policy Polling since they won their parties’ nominations.

Mr. McDonnell leads state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds 49 percent to 43 percent, according to the poll released Tuesday by the nonpartisan firm based in Raleigh, N.C.

Mr. Deeds was well ahead of Mr. McDonnell, a former attorney general, in several polls released in the days following the Democratic primary, but this latest poll shows his advantage has evaporated.

“The race for governor right now is in a very similar place to 2005,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling, in a release accompanying the polling figures. “The Republican attorney general has a modest lead four months out from Election Day. The question now is whether McDonnell can sustain it, unlike Jerry Kilgore, or whether Deeds will come from behind to win, as Tim Kaine did.”

Of the likely voters who responded, 86 percent said they were solidly committed to their vote for governor, while 14 percent said they could change their mind and vote for the other candidate. Both candidates had solid favorability ratings, 51 percent for the Republican and 48 percent for the Democrat.

Mr. McDonnell leads among independents, polling 54 percent to Mr. Deeds’ 33 percent.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points, and 617 likely voters were contacted between June 30 and July 2.

Additionally, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling leads former state Finance Secretary Jody M. Wagner, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, 46 percent to 40 percent. And Republican state Sen. Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II is ahead of his Democratic rival, Delegate Stephen C. Shannon, 45 percent to 38 percent in the race for attorney general.

“It’s pretty clear that any boost the Democrats may have gotten from the publicity surrounding their primary election has disappeared,” said Pat Mullins, the Republican Party of Virginia chairman, in a news release. “It’s also obvious that the more Virginians tune into the race, the more they like our impressive slate of candidates.”

The McDonnell campaign took the poll results as an opportunity to reiterate its invitation for 10 debates.

J. Tucker Martin, the campaign communications director, said in a release: “The Deeds campaign has rejected our initial proposal of 10 specific debates between the two candidates. Now, with today’s polling results showing our campaign ahead, we understand that most political observers would not expect us to continue to call for more debates. However, we are committed to working with the Deeds staff to put together a series of 10 independently organized, and nonpartisan, debates that works for both campaigns.”

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