Virginia Governor's Race Tightens, According to New Nonpartisan Poll

Tue Sep 15, 2009 6:43pm EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

McDonnell leads by 5 points, "thesis story" solidifies Democrats for Deeds

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a new statewide poll of
Virginia's voters, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell posts a
5-point lead over Democratic rival Creigh Deeds. In the survey, McDonnell
polls 42 percent to Deeds' 37 percent with 20 percent undecided. 

The poll was conducted by Clarus Research Group, a nonpartisan polling firm
based in Washington, D.C., September 10-14, 2009. 

McDonnell's margin, at 5 percent, is smaller than it had been in other
publicly reported polls conducted between the first week of August and the
first week of September, when McDonnell's average lead was 10.2 percent.

In the Clarus poll, Republicans lead in all three statewide races that will be
on the November ballot.

"The McDonnell thesis story has not -- so far -- damaged McDonnell as badly as
Democrats had hoped, but it hasn't left him unscathed, the way many
Republicans had hoped," said Ron Faucheux, president of Clarus Research Group.

The story's major impact has been to solidify the Democratic base for Deeds.
It has had less impact on independents -- McDonnell beats Deeds by 7 points
among them."

A big factor in this election will be Election Day turnout, especially by
race," said Faucheux. "If African American turnout approaches the 2008
presidential election levels, it would be a major boost to Deeds' chances."

The electorate is highly polarized along partisan and racial lines. McDonnell
defeats Deeds by 24 points among whites and Deeds defeats McDonnell by 77
points among African Americans. Neither Deeds nor McDonnell get more than 5%
cross-over votes from the other candidate's party. 

The survey's sample size was 600 registered voters with a margin of error =
+/- 4 percent. The poll was conducted via telephone by live interviewers. It
was not sponsored or paid for by an outside client. Clarus is not working for
any candidates in the 2009 Virginia elections and conducted this survey for
its own use. For more information about Clarus, and its president, Ron
Faucheux, go to (Percentage totals are rounded and may not
add up to 100.)

Other findings from the poll:

McDonnell leads by a 15-point margin in the southwest/western part of the
state while Deeds leads in northern Virginia by 5 points.

McDonnell has a 9-point lead among men and the candidates are tied among women

52 percent of all voters said they had heard about the McDonnell thesis story.
Among them, 5 percent said the story made them feel more favorable toward
McDonnell, 31 percent said it may them feel less favorable, and 63 percent
said it had no effect.

Of women who said they had heard about the thesis story, 5 percent said it
made them more favorable toward McDonnell, 35 percent less favorable, and 58
percent said it has no effect. Of men who said they had heard about the thesis
story, 5 percent said it made them more favorable toward McDonnell, 27 percent
less favorable, and 67 percent said it has no effect. 

Of those voters who said they had heard about the thesis story and said it
made them feel LESS favorable toward McDonnell: 76 percent were Democrats, 8
percent were Republicans and 16% were independents.

Of those who had said they had heard about the thesis story and said it had NO
EFFECT on how they feel about McDonnell: 6 percent were Republicans, 34
percent were independents, and 29 percent were Democrats.

Good news for McDonnell: Despite the thesis story and related attacks, he
remains the frontrunner with a lead (5 points) beyond the poll's 4-point
margin of error.

Good news for Deeds: The thesis story has solidified his Democratic base and
may have opened a window of opportunity to make this a competitive race.

Bad news for McDonnell: The thesis story has hurt, and may hurt more over
time. Despite his current lead, McDonnell polls well below 50 percent. There
remain a high percentage of undecided independent voters who will determine
the winner. Twice as many independents are undecided than are Democrats and

Bad news for Deeds: 83 percent of independent voters are white; at this point,
Deeds is only polling 28 percent of the vote among all white voters statewide.

Gov. Tim Kaine does well enough in job approval (53 percent) to make it
difficult for Republicans to run against him. However, Kaine's positives are
low enough to make it difficult for Deeds to ride in on the incumbent's
coattails the way Kaine, himself, did four years ago when Mark Warner was the
highly popular incumbent governor.

Incumbent Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) leads Democratic challenger Jody Wagner,
38-32 percent, with 31 percent undecided. 

Republican Ken Cuccinelli leads Democrat Steve Shannon for Attorney General,
35-30 percent, with 35 percent undecided.

Senator Mark Warner has the highest job approval rating of any elected
official tested in the state, at 61 percent. Senator Jim Webb, also a
Democrat, has a 47 percent approval rating and President Barack Obama has an
approval rating of 48 percent.

SOURCE  Clarus Research Group

Ron Faucheux of Clarus Research Group, +1-202-256-8036,
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