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Obama, Kaine hold leads in Virginia poll

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President Barack Obama has opened an 8-point lead (47 percent to 39 percent) over Mitt Romney in Virginia, according to The Roanoke College Poll.

Meanwhile, Democrat Tim Kaine enjoys a 10-point margin (47 percent to 37 percent) over Republican George Allen in the race for the U.S. Senate seat in Virginia.

Using a more stringent screen for likely voters reduces the number of undecided voters, but the margins remain virtually unchanged (Obama 49 percent to Romney 41 percent; Kaine 48 percent, Allen 39 percent).

Ten percent of the electorate remains undecided in the presidential contest, while the other candidates on the ballot draw smaller numbers of voters (Gary Johnson, 2 percent; Jill Stein, 2 percent; and Virgil Goode, 1 percent). Those who support third-party candidates would split their vote between Romney (29 percent) and Obama (24 percent), but most are uncertain of their vote choice if their candidate was not on the Virginia ballot.

Obama leads among women (51 percent to 34 percent), Democrats (94 percent to 1 percent), liberals (83 percent to 8 percent), and younger voters 18-34 years old (62 percent to 20 percent).

Romney is statistically tied among men (leading 45 percent to 42 percent, within the margin of error), but he holds comfortable margins among Republicans (88 percent to 2 percent), conservatives (75 percent to 15 percent), and those 65 or older (47 percent to 40 percent). 

Romney leads among those who identify themselves as independents (45 percent to 32 percent, but Obama holds a commanding lead among self-described political moderates (56 percent to 26 percent), a group that now equals or exceeds conservatives in size in Virginia.

Three-fourths (74 percent) of Obama supporters say their vote is a vote for him rather than a vote against Romney (15 percent). However, more than one-third of Romney supporters (34 percent) say their vote is a vote against Obama, and less than half (48 percent) say their vote is a vote for Romney. 

A voter’s choice in 2008 is predictive of their 2012 choice. Eighty-four percent of those who voted for Obama in 2008 said they will vote for him again this year while 85 percent of John McCain supporters plan to vote for Romney. Only 4 percent in each group plan to switch their vote to the other party.

In the matchup of former Virginia governors for the U.S. Senate seat, Kaine leads among women (52 percent to 30 percent), and he is statistically tied among men, trailing Allen by only 4 percentage points (45 percent to 41 percent).

The candidates are also statistically tied among white voters (Allen leads 43 percent to 40 percent), but Kaine has a very large lead among black voters (77 percent to 7 percent). Kaine leads with moderates (57 percent to 25 percent), but Allen leads among independents (46 percent to 39 percent). Kaine holds leads in every region of the state except the Shenandoah Valley.

The issues noted as most important to the likely voters focused on the economy. Two out of five (41 percent) cited the economy in general, while 12 percent mentioned unemployment or jobs, and 5 percent said the budget deficit was most important. Eleven percent said health care was most important to them. Obama led among likely voters who named each of those issues except the deficit. No other single issue was named by more than 3 percent of voters.

Virginia voters generally disapprove of federal health care reform, the Affordable Health Care Act (49 percent to 42 percent).  They are fairly evenly split on the issue of gay marriage (43 percent favor, 39 percent oppose). On abortion rights, 32 percent think abortions should be legal in all circumstances, 47 percent said it should be legal in some circumstances, and only 15 percent think abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.

Interviewing for The Roanoke College Poll was conducted by The Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College between Sept. 19 and Sept. 28, 2012. A total of 589 likely voters in Virginia were interviewed. The sample of land lines and cellphones was prepared by Survey Sampling Inc. of Fairfield, Conn., and was created so that all cellphone and residential telephone numbers, including unlisted numbers, had a known chance of inclusion. Cellphones constituted 20 percent of the completed interviews.




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