The race to be the next Governor of Virginia is back in single digits, as Creigh Deeds has pulled to within 49-42 against Bob McDonnell after trailing 51-37 a month ago.
The movement in the race seems to be driven largely by an increase in Democratic enthusiasm for Deeds' candidacy. For instance where Deeds was winning only 64% of the black vote a month ago he's now at 81%, perhaps an indication that radio ads on his behalf from Barack Obama are paying off. And where a month ago Democratic interest in the election was so low that those planning to vote in November had supported John McCain by a 52-41 margin last year even though Obama won the state by six points, we now find that spread at only 49-45 in McCain's favor. So even though the likely electorate is still considerably more conservative than the folks who turned out in 2008, Deeds is at least closing that gap.
Overall McDonnell continues to be in a very solid position though- most eye catching is his 60-29 lead among independent voters, likely an indication that the shift in the national climate benefiting Republicans over the last few months is helping his candidacy as well. McDonnell is earning the votes of 14% of respondents who said they voted for Tim Kaine in 2005, while Deeds is winning only 2% of Jerry Kilgore's supporters.
The attacks against McDonnell appear to be having at least some impact on his negatives. Where a month ago his favorability was 54/26, it's now 53/31. Deeds' name recognition has increased but his net popularity is about the same, going from 43/32 to 47/35.
The big question in the race right now of course is the impact that the revelations from McDonnell's thesis at Regent University will or will not have. Unfortunately we completed 86% of the interviews for this poll on Friday and Saturday so the numbers don't fully reflect any fall out from that story. However it is worth noting that while McDonnell led 50-41 in the two days of polling before the article, Deeds actually led 50-42 in the 83 interviews conducted on Sunday and Monday. That should be taken with a grain of salt since the margin of error on that small a sample is +/-10.8% but it is somewhat unusual for numbers to shift that strongly over the course of a field period and it will be interesting to see the next rounds of polling conducted completely once the story has set in. It's the kind of thing that could get sleepy Democratic voters more engaged to head out to the polls in November.
Republicans continue to hold their leads in the other statewide contests- Bill Bolling is up 46-40 against Jody Wagner to keep his post as Lieutenant Governor, and Ken Cuccinelli has a 48-35 advantage over Steve Shannon for Attorney General.
Full results here