Monday, February 13, 2006

RICHMOND — Virginia Sen. George Allen is more popular heading into his re-election campaign than his potential Democratic challengers, a recent statewide poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports shows.

So far, two Democrats — James Webb and Harris Miller — have officially announced their intentions to seek their party’s nomination. The winner of the June primary will challenge Mr. Allen, who is running for a second six-year term, in November.

The poll, conducted Wednesday, showed that most voters in Virginia would vote for Mr. Allen, regardless of who his Democratic opponent is.

If Mr. Webb is the nominee and the election were held today, 49 percent of voters would pick Mr. Allen, while 37 percent would choose Mr. Webb, the poll shows. Eleven percent were undecided.

If Mr. Miller is the nominee and the election were held today, 48 percent of voters would select Mr. Allen, while 35 percent would pick Mr. Miller, the poll found. Twelve percent were undecided.

In both cases, 4 percent said they would choose some other candidate.

The poll surveyed 500 likely Virginia voters and has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

The two Democrats are from Northern Virginia. Mr. Allen was governor of Virginia in the mid-1990s.

Mr. Webb, a former secretary of the Navy under President Reagan, jumped into the race last week.

Mr. Miller is best known for serving as president of the Information Technology Association of America. He has been a congressional aide and also worked in the Carter administration.

Mr. Miller has gained in the polls since he began campaigning.

A Rasmussen poll conducted last month showed that Mr. Miller would receive 27 percent of the vote, compared with Mr. Allen’s 57 percent.

Brian Cook, a spokesman for Mr. Miller, said the emergence of a primary opponent does not change the campaign’s game plan.

“We’re going to keep traveling around Virginia showing voters why Harris Miller is the best person to fix Washington,” he said.

A former Republican, Mr. Webb filed his paperwork last week and told the Associated Press that he will campaign on national security issues and pointed out that he “actually fought in a war.”

“I’ve got a lot of different kinds of experience that I think is important in light of our very unfortunate strategy in Iraq,” he told the AP.

The latest Rasmussen poll showed that 88 percent of Virginia voters think the war in Iraq will be “very important” or “somewhat important” in determining how they vote in the U.S. Senate race.

Of the other issues included in the poll, only the economy received a higher percentage.

The poll also show that 52 percent of voters trust President Bush when it comes to the war and national security, while 41 percent said they trust Democrats in Congress. Six percent were not sure.

On the economy, 51 percent of those surveyed said they trust Mr. Bush and 44 percent trust Democrats. Five percent were not sure.

The poll also shows that Mr. Allen enjoys a 61 percent job-approval rating. More than one-third of voters said they were not sure about Mr. Miller or Mr. Webb.

Mr. Allen is also popular among conservative colleagues who think he should run for president.

Over the weekend, political insiders attending the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington ranked Mr. Allen as the most likely to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2008. Mr. Allen received 22 percent of the vote, more than any other Republican.

The poll can be found at

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