Survey shows Romney with narrow lead in Virginia

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Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has overtaken President Obama by a very narrow margin in Virginia, according to a Roanoke College Poll.

Romney led Obama 49 percent to 44 percent in a survey conducted after the presidential debates.

In addition, Republican George Allen also held 5-point lead over Democrat Tim Kaine, 47 percent to 42 percent, in the race for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Jim Webb. Webb, who defeated Allen in 2006, is not running for re-election.

The Roanoke College Poll interviewed 638 likely voters in Virginia from on Oct. 23-26 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Employing a more stringent screen for likely voters increases Romney’s lead to 54 percent to 41 percent and Allen’s lead to 51 percent to 39 percent.

“What a difference a month can make,” Harry Wilson, director of the college’s Institute for Policy and Opinion Research, said in statement. “Gov. Romney made up a lot of ground during and after the debates. Those likely voters who made their decision during or after the debates favor Romney by 18 percent.”

Only 5 percent of the electorate remains undecided in the presidential contest.

Romney now leads among men (52 to 39 percent), Republicans (95 to 4 percent), Conservatives (87 to 9 percent), those aged 50-64 (55 to 37 percent), 65 or older (61 to 36 percent) and white voters (61 to 33 percent).

Obama still holds strong leads among Democrats (94 to 2 percent), Liberals (89 to 8 percent), younger voters 18-34 years old (55 to 28 percent) and African-Americans (89 to 6 percent), but his lead among women has statistically disappeared (48 to 47 percent).

Romney leads among those who identify themselves as Independents (59 to 33 percent), but Obama leads among self-described political moderates by a similar margin (54 to 35 percent).

Three-fourths (77 percent) of Obama supporters say their vote is a vote for him rather than a vote against Romney (15 percent). Just over half of Romney supporters (55 percent) say their vote is a vote for Romney and 22 percent say their vote is a vote against Obama. This is stronger enthusiasm for Romney compared to the Oct. 2 Roanoke College Poll.

In the matchup of former governors, the cross tabulations are very similar to those in the presidential vote. Only 5 percent of Obama supporters plan to vote for Allen, and 3 percent of Romney supporters say they will vote for Kaine. There are still twice as many undecided voters in this race (10 percent) when compared with the presidential contest.

While many polls, including the Oct. 2 Roanoke College Poll, suggest that Kaine has been running a few points stronger than Obama, the results of the latest poll reveal a very high percentage of straight-ticket voting and presidential coattails, Wilson said.

President Obama’s favorable rating is 48 percent (46 percent unfavorable), almost unchanged in a month, while Mitt Romney’s ratings are up significantly from a month ago (49 percent favorable; 39 percent unfavorable). Gov. Bob McDonnell, by comparison, has a 46 percent favorable rating. 

Not surprisingly, the issues noted as most important to the likely voters centered on the economy. More than half (51 percent) cited the economy in general as most important, while 9 percent mentioned unemployment or jobs, and 4 percent said the budget deficit was most important.

Eight percent said health care was most important to them, and 6 percent cited women’s issues or abortion as most important. Romney holds strong leads among those citing economic issues, while Obama fared better among those naming health care or women’s issues.

Interviewing for The Roanoke College Poll was conducted by The Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College. The sample of land lines and cell phones was prepared by Survey Sampling Inc. of Fairfield, Conn., and was created so that all cell phone and residential telephone numbers, including unlisted numbers, had a known chance of inclusion. Cell phones constituted 27 percent of the completed interviews.

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