Creigh Deeds' post-primary bounce in Virginia appears to have worn out after a month off the airwaves, and Bob McDonnell now holds a 49-43 lead in the contest to become the state's next Governor.
The candidates are doing about an equally good job of uniting their parties around them, but McDonnell has a 54-33 advantage among independents fueling his overall advantage.
McDonnell and Deeds are both popular with the electorate. 51% view the Republican favorably with just 32% holding a negative opinion of him, while 48% have a positive take on the Democrat to 29% having an unfavorable one.
Just 3% of Democrats have an unfavorable opinion of Deeds, indicating there is basically no lingering resentment from the primary.
Despite trailing, there are several bright spots for Deeds in the numbers. He currently has just a 68-16 lead among African Americans. Democrats frequently under poll with that demographic this far out from an election but usually end up getting 85% or more of that vote come November. There are a lot more undecided Democrats than Republicans, which makes those voters more inclined to end up in the Deeds camp. Deeds' supporters are also a little more committed than McDonnell's, with 90% of them saying they will definitely vote for him while just 82% say that for McDonnell.
There are some signs of concern too though. We're detecting little interest in the race right now from black voters or young voters, both groups that were overwhelmingly supportive of Barack Obama and key to his success in the state last year. We currently project black turnout at 16% of the electorate, down from 20% last year, and voters under 30 at 8%, down from 21% last year. Getting those groups excited about his candidacy and out to the polls will be key to Deeds' prospects.
The race is in a very similar position to 2005. The poll released that year closest to today's date of July 7th showed Jerry Kilgore with a 6 point lead identical to the one we found last week. The question now is whether McDonnell can hold onto this lead better than Kilgore did, or if Deeds will be able to replicate Tim Kaine's success in peaking at just the right time. He certainly did that in the primary.
In the race for Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling leads Jody Wagner 46-40, and for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is up 45-38 on Steve Shannon.
Full results here