Roanoke College poll: Romney, Allen lead in Virginia

A new poll released Wednesday by Roanoke College found that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has overtaken President Barack Obama in Virginia, and that George Allen is leading Tim Kaine in Virginia’s U.S. Senate race.

According to the poll Romney leads Obama 49-44 percent among Virginia voters, and Republican Allen leading Democrat Kaine 47-42 percent.

A separate poll released Wednesday shows President Obama clinging to a 49-47 percent lead among Virginia voters. While Obama still has a slim lead, the Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll found that Obama’s lead has slipped from a poll conducted Oct. 11. In that poll Obama led 51-46 percent.

For the U.S. Senate race in Virginia the Quinnipiac University poll found Kaine holding a 50-46 percent lead over Allen. The poll showed Kaine’s lead slipping from the Oct. 11 poll (51 to 44 percent). Click here to see Quinnipiac University’s poll.

The Oct. 2 Roanoke College poll showed Kaine running a few percentage points stronger than Allen. But the new poll shows a higher percentage of voters making their decision along party lines.

The Roanoke College poll was conducted between Oct. 23 and Oct. 26, and was made up of interviews of 638 likely Virginia voters. It has a margin of error of plus-minus 4 percent.

Virginia is a key swing state for the presidential election. Both campaigns have made several stops in the commonwealth. Romney has a scheduled campaign stop Thursday in Roanoke.

Here is the news release from Roanoke College:

Governor Mitt Romney has overtaken President Barack Obama by a very narrow margin in Virginia (49% - 44%), according to a Roanoke College Poll conducted after the Presidential debates. Republican George Allen also enjoys a 5 point lead over Democrat Tim Kaine (47% - 42%) in the race for the U.S. Senate seat in Virginia. The Roanoke College Poll interviewed 638 likely voters in Virginia between Oct. 23 and October 26 and has a margin of error of +4 percent. Employing a more stringent screen for likely voters (N=503) increases Romney’s lead to 54 percent to 41 percent and Allen’s lead to 51 percent to 39 percent.[1]

Only 5 percent of the electorate remains undecided in the Presidential contest, while the other candidates on the ballot draw smaller numbers of voters (Johnson, 2%; Stein 1%; and Goode   1%). Among those who made their vote decision after one or more of the debates, Romney leads 53 percent to 35 percent.

Sources of support

Romney now leads among men (52% - 39%), Republicans (95% - 4%), Conservatives (87% - 9%), and those aged 50-64 (55% - 37%), 65 or older (61% - 36%), and white voters (61% - 33%). Obama still holds strong leads among Democrats (94% - 2%), Liberals (89% - 8%), younger voters 18-34 years old (55% - 28%), and African-Americans (89% - 6%), but his lead among women has statistically disappeared (48% - 47%). 

Romney leads among those who identify themselves as Independents (59% - 33%), but Obama leads among self-described political moderates by a similar margin (54% - 35%). More than half of Independents (52%) think of themselves as Moderate, while 34 percent are Conservative, and 9 percent are Liberal. A plurality of Moderates (42%) are Democrats, while slightly fewer (40%) are Independents, and only 14 percent are Republicans. A plurality of Independents (47%) are moderate, while one-third (35%) are conservative and only 13 percent are liberal. This helps to explain why Obama leads among Moderates but trails among Independents. 

Three-fourths (77%) of Obama supporters say their vote is a vote for him rather than a vote against Romney (15%). Just over half of Romney supporters (55%) 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.

The Virginia Senate Race

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%), when compared to 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 here reveal a very high percentage of straight-ticket voting and Presidential coattails.

Favorable/unfavorable views; important issues

President Obama’s favorable rating is 48 percent (46% unfavorable), almost unchanged in a month, while Mitt Romney’s ratings are up significantly from a month ago (49% favorable; 39% unfavorable). Governor Bob McDonnell sits at a 46 percent favorable rating.  George Allen and Tim Kaine are virtually tied in their favorable ratings (Allen--45%, Kaine--44%), but Kaine’s unfavorable ratings are slightly higher (Kaine - 41%, Allen - 33%). Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan (47% favorable, 38% unfavorable) fares better than Vice-President Joe Biden (42% favorable, 47% unfavorable).

Governor Romney has erased President Obama’s lead with regard to doing a better job on several specific issues. Romney is now perceived as being capable of doing a better job on unemployment (53% - 41%), taxes (48% - 44%), and immigration (46% - 42%). Romney maintains his lead on dealing with the budget deficit (55%-36%). Obama still leads on foreign policy (49% - 43%) and Medicare (48% - 44%), and they are statistically tied on Social Security (Obama 45% - 44%) and health care (47% - 47%).