Barack Obama may have taken a step back in Virginia over the last couple of months but the state of the Senate race remains unchanged: Tim Kaine holds a slight lead over George Allen. This month's poll comes out at 46-43.
Kaine (87-7) and Allen (87-6) have basically identical leads with voters of their own party. What tips the balance toward Kaine is that he leads 44-33 with independent voters. That advantage for Kaine with independents is becoming a trend in our polling. In May Kaine had a 45-40 advantage with them and a 46-44 lead overall.
It's not that independent voters are in love with Kaine: his 43/38 favorability breakdown with them is decent but not earth shattering. But they really don't like Allen. Just 20% rate him positively to 47% with a negative opinion. That breakdown was 32/47 when we polled in May, 36/41 in late February and 38/45 in November. Allen does not have a good image with independent voters in Virginia and that's why he's down with them right now.
There seems to be a general thought that this race will move in whatever direction the national political winds do over the next 15 months and change so it's interesting that Kaine has gained a point on his lead over Allen even as Barack Obama's advantage on Mitt Romney has declined by 7 points. At least right now those races aren't moving in concert. For now that's good news for Kaine- Obama's not dragging him down even as his popularity flags. But longer term it could be good news for Allen too- if Obama's numbers see a recovery that doesn't necessarily mean Kaine's all the sudden going to have an 8 point lead either.
On the extremely off chance that George Allen were to lose the Republican nomination to Tea Party candidate Jamie Radtke, Kaine would have a 16 point lead at 47-31. GOP primary numbers we'll release tomorrow shows the chances of that to be extremely minuscule though.
Full results here