GOP’s McDonnell Has Edge Over All Democrats In Virginia Governor’s Race
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell has a three-to-nine point lead against three hopefuls for the Democratic nomination in this year’s closely-watched Virginia gubernatorial contest.
McDonnell, who announced this week that he will step down from his post on February 20 to campaign full-time for governor, bested only one of the three Democrats in early December.
Now, the latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows the lone Republican gubernatorial candidate topping his best-known opponent, Terry McAuliffe, by seven points, 42% to 35%. In December, he held a five-point edge over McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton confidant, major Democratic fund-raiser and former national party chairman.
McDonnell is even further ahead of Rep. R. Creigh Deeds of Bath County – 39% to 30%. The two men were tied two months ago.
Brian J. Moran, a former state delegate from Alexandria, led McDonnell by four points in the earlier survey but now trails by three, 39% to 36%.
It’s still early in the political season, however, with a large percentage of Virginia voters not aware enough of any of the candidates to express a favorable or unfavorable opinion about them. Fewer than a third have strong feelings about any of the candidates.
Fifty percent (50%) of the state’s voters have a favorable view of McDonnell, with 16% very favorable. Only 18% view him unfavorably, just four percent with a very unfavorable opinion. Thirty-two percent (32%) have no opinion.
For Deeds, his favorables are 30%, with eight percent (8%) very favorable, and his unfavorables are 29%, seven percent (7%) very unfavorable. Forty-one percent (41%) are unsure what they think of Deeds, who lost his bid for attorney general to McDonnell in 2005 in a race so close it required a recount.
Thirty-two percent (32%) have a favorable opinion of Moran, with nine percent (9%) very favorable, and 33% view him unfavorably, including 11% who say their view is very unfavorable. Thirty-five percent (35%) are not sure what their opinion is of Moran.
McAuliffe, a businessman who now lives in northern Virginia, is viewed favorably by 34%, with 12% very favorable, and unfavorably by 39%, including 19% very unfavorable. Just 27% aren’t sure what they think of McAuliffe.
McDonnell’s and Moran’s numbers are largely unchanged from the earlier survey, while both Deeds’ and McAuliffe’s have deteriorated slightly.
Among Democratic voters, Moran runs best against McDonnell in the new survey.
Virginia’s current governor, Tim Kaine, also chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is prohibited by law from seeking a second term. Virginia Democrats will pick among the three contenders for his job in a June primary.
For now, McAuliffe has slightly better favorables than Moran among Democratic voters, with Deeds fairly close behind. But McAuliffe’s unfavorables also are the highest among the three Democrats.
The race is likely to become clearer after the three men address the state Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner Saturday in Richmond.
Virginia has been trending Democratic in recent years, and the party is hopeful of winning its third governorship in a row here. When Barack Obama carried Virginia last November, he was the first Democratic presidential candidate to do so since 1964.
Sixty-four percent (64%) of Virginia voters approve of Obama’s performance as president, with 45% who strongly approve. Among the 35% who disapprove of the job he is doing, 20% strongly disapprove. Obama’s overall approval rating in Virginia is better than the numbers he is earning late in the week in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Approval Index.
Sixty-one percent (61%) of Virginia voters approve of Kaine’s performance as governor, including 25% who strongly approve. Thirty-seven percent (37%) disapprove; of this group, 19% strongly disapprove.