Democrat R. Creigh Deeds is within five points of Republican Robert F. McDonnell in a poll released Tuesday with just over a month to go until Virginia’s gubernatorial election.
The poll released by nonpartisan Raleigh, N.C.-based Public Policy Polling shows that while Mr. McDonnell still leads 48 percent to 43 percent, Mr. Deeds has narrowed the gap from last month when Mr. McDonnell led 49 percent to 42 percent.
The September poll is the first that was taken entirely after the surfacing of a 20-year-old graduate school thesis written by Mr. McDonnell that said in part that homosexuality, working women and abortion were detrimental to American families.
Pollsters collected the August figures on days that straddled the first news report about the thesis that appeared in The Washington Post on Aug. 30.
The latest poll, which was conducted between Sept. 25 and 28 and has a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points, showed that Democratic efforts to inform voters of Mr. McDonnell’s thesis seemed to be paying off. Fifty-two percent of 576 likely voters surveyed said they were “very familiar” with the thesis.
However, 59 percent of voters said the paper made no difference in their vote, while 2 percent of those who had supported Mr. McDonnell said they would no longer support him.
Republicans in recent days have sought to reframe the debate by saying Mr. Deeds is intent on raising taxes, after Mr. Deeds said he would not rule out new taxes if they were part of a bipartisan bill that contained a dedicated funding mechanism for transportation.
Mr. Deeds said Tuesday that the state can’t afford to limit itself when addressing transportation issues.
“I think people want honest, realistic answers. They’re tired of politics as usual; they’re tired of political gain,” he said, answering a reporter’s question about raising taxes.
Asked whether he was concerned that raising taxes could hurt those Virginians least able to afford it, Mr. Deeds said, “I think that everything has to be on the table to deal with transportation.”
Also on Tuesday, former Gov. Linwood Holton, a Republican who served during the Nixon presidency, announced that he will be supporting Mr. Deeds.
Mr. Holton is the father-in-law of Gov. Tim Kaine, who serves as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He also broke with his party to support President Obama during the 2008 presidential election.
Mr. Holton said he is supporting Mr. Deeds because the candidate’s transportation plan is “the most realistic plan of either of the two candidates.”
Meanwhile, Mr. McDonnell announced Tuesday that he received the endorsement of the Virginia Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors.
The Republican also announced his proposal to reform Virginia’s mental health care system.
The plan that he formulated with attorney general candidate state Sen. Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II includes expanding the community-based system of care, improving children and adolescent services, supporting returning wounded veterans and update the state’s mental health statutes.
Mr. Cuccinelli continues to lead his Democratic rival, Delegate Stephen C. Shannon, 43 percent to 34 percent in the Public Policy Poll. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling leads former state Finance Secretary Jody M. Wagner, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, 43 percent to 35 percent.