Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Undecideds rule in Virginia

Terry McAuliffe 18
Brian Moran 18
Creigh Deeds 11

The first of what will be monthly polls on the Virginia Governor's race from PPP finds most likely primary voters are undecided.

The poll brings good news and bad news for Terry McAuliffe. The good news is that there are already hints at how his deep war chest could eventually allow him to run away with the nomination. McAuliffe has already been up on tv in the Hampton Roads region for a little while, and he's earning 22% there to just 6% for Deeds and 5% for Moran. It's virtually unprecented for a Gubernatorial campaign to go on the air this early, and it appears to already be paying dividends for McAuliffe in a region of the state where none of the three contenders has a natural base. That has major implications for the impact his money could have moving forward.

At the same time, he has by far the largest number of likely primary voters who hold a negative view of him. 23% of likely primary voters have an unfavorable opinion of him, compared to just 10% for Moran and 9% for Deeds. That speaks to potential difficulty Democrats could have getting on the same page to fight Bob McDonnell in the general election if McAuliffe gets the nod.

Moran gets the best overall reviews from the voters with 34% viewing him favorably compared to 30% for McAuliffe and 23% for Deeds. Moran is polling particularly strong in northern Virginia, where he gets 34% to McAuliffe's 14% and receives a positive review from 49% of voters, better than any of the candidates is doing in any other region of the state.

The poll is perhaps most discouraging for Deeds. Even though he has previously run for statewide office, he appears to have the lowest name recognition of the three candidates. Although he does poll pretty well in the central part of the state he represents in Richmond, that area does not have a huge proportion of Democratic primary voters compared to two other key constituencies that he is polling poorly with: African Americans and folks in northern Virginia. With each of those groups he's currently at just 3%.

Independent voters and African Americans are two voter blocs that could play a pivotal role in the primary and currently have even higher levels of undecideds than the electorate at large. McAuliffe has an early lead with blacks, but 65% don't have their minds made up. Moran has the early edge with independents, who seem likely to choose the Democratic primary this year with the Republican nominee already decided, but 64% of them are currently ambivalent.

Full results here

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