Virginia is both a key presidential battleground and the site of an ultra-competitive Senate race that could well decide which party wins the upper chamber majority. In both contests, Democrats appear to hold the high ground with just under seven weeks to go until Election Day.
Beginning with the presidential race, recent polling shows that President Obama is well positioned for the fall stretch run. He leads Mitt Romney 52 percent to 44 percent in a Washington Post poll released Tuesday, and 50 percent to 46 percent in a Quinnipiac University/New York Times/ CBS News poll released on Wednesday. The Real Clear Politics average of recent polling in the state shows Obama with a three-point advantage over Romney.
Drilling down into specific surveys, it’s clear that Obama’s standing has been boosted by strong support from women.
The Quinnipiac/NYT/CBS poll shows Obama leading clearly among women, 54 percent to 42 percent. It’s been enough to overcome deficits among independents (who favor Romney by 11 points in the poll) and men (who favor Romney by six points). In the Washington Post poll, the gap among women is even wider, with Obama leading 58 percent to 39 percent.
Earlier this year, a debate raged over a measure in the state legislature that would have required women to undergo transvaginal ultrasounds before getting abortions. Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) eventually backed off his support for it, and the back-and-forth was seen as a net political loss for Republicans, who were relentlessly targeted by Democrats and women’s groups in the ensuing weeks and months.
In addition to the gap among women, polling in Virginia also shows distinct divides along lines of race and religion. ”Racial polarization in the presidential election nationally is on display in Virginia, where blacks back the president 93 – 5 percent and whites go for Romney 57 – 39 percent,” said Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown. “Looking at the subgroup of evangelical Christians who share similar religious beliefs, the president leads 93 – 6 percent among black evangelicals, while Romney leads among white evangelicals 78 – 17 percent.”
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