Republican Bob McDonnell now has a double-digit lead over Democrat R. Creigh Deeds in the Virginia governor's race just one week before the Nov. 3 election, a new poll reveals.
McDonnell, a former state attorney general, leads state Sen. Deeds by a margin of 55 percent to 44 percent among likely voters, according to the Washington Post survey.
That's up from a 9-point lead in an early October poll, and significantly higher than the 4-point lead McDonnell enjoyed in a mid-September survey.
Many political observers have viewed the Virginia race, along with the governor's race in New Jersey, as early referendums on the Barack Obama presidency.
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But seven out of 10 respondents in the Virginia poll say their views of President Obama will not be a factor in their vote for governor. And the rest are about evenly divided between those who say their vote will be an expression of support for Obama and those whose vote will express opposition to the president.
The poll suggests that "Obama might not be a decisive figure in the contest and that the race is not the early referendum on the Obama presidency many have suggested it would be," the Post observed.
Both McDonnell and Deeds have faced problems during the campaign. McDonnell has been forced to defend his graduate school thesis from 20 years ago, which criticized career women, gays and cohabiting unmarried couples. Deeds has drawn criticism for repeatedly refusing to specify how he would raise the $1 billion a year needed to revive critical transportation projects.
Other findings of the new poll include:About one quarter of Deeds supporters say they are backing him "not too" or "not at all" enthusiastically. But more than nine in 10 McDonnell voters are "very" or "fairly" enthusiastic about the GOP candidate.Most voters view McDonnell as "about right" ideologically, while nearly half view Deeds as "too liberal."By a 21-percentage-point margin, voters believe McDonnell would be a more effective leader than Deeds.Independents favor McDonnell by a huge margin, 61 percent to 36 percent.Deeds holds a lead of 56 percent to 43 percent among voters in the left-leaning Washington suburbs in Northern Virginia, while McDonnell has a solid lead of 63 percent to 36 percent in the state's rural west.
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