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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 01:45 PM ET, 09/01/2009

Virginia Governor: Will the Thesis Move the Middle?

Revelations about Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell's graduate school thesis sparked a sharp debate between the two campaigns, as the candidates strive to sway an electorate yet to tune into their upcoming ballot-box choice according to the most recent Washington Post poll.

McDonnell held a lead over his Democratic opponent R. Creigh Deeds in that poll, but a majority of voters said they had yet to make up their minds about the race. Regarding McDonnell himself, more than six in 10 said they knew little or nothing about his qualifications to be governor.

Ahead of coverage of the thesis, McDonnell faced a steeper climb among women than men, particularly moderate women, whose reactions to the thesis will be closely watched in the coming weeks. In the Post poll, Deeds fared better among women than he did among men, even notching a narrow majority of moderate women who said they were certain to cast a ballot this November.

And women were less likely than men to have formed firm opinions of the Republican nominee. More than three in 10 (31 percent of women and 36 percent of moderate women) said they weren't sure where McDonnell fell ideologically, compared with about two in 10 men and moderate men. All told, six in 10 moderate women in the poll were "movable voters," or those who have yet to commit to one candidate.

Through the August Post poll, Deeds' strategy of portraying McDonnell as out of the mainstream on social issues had failed to make a dent, with more saying Deeds was too liberal (32 percent) than McDonnell too conservative (27 percent). But among women, the figures were about equal (28 percent said McDonnell is too conservative, 29 percent said Deeds is too liberal). Watch that balance in the weeks to come.

Q. If the election were being held today and the candidates were Creigh Deeds, the Democrat and Bob McDonnell, the Republican, for whom would you vote?

Among registered voters:
                               Other     Wouldn't       No
            Deeds  McDonnell   (vol.)   vote (vol.)   opinion  
All          40        47        1          3            9

Men          36        51        2          3            8
Women        45        42        *          3           10

Among moderates:
All          45        39        1          3           12

Men          42        41        2          4           11
Women        48        36        1          2           14
Among likely voters:
                               Other     Wouldn't       No
            Deeds  McDonnell   (vol.)   vote (vol.)   opinion  
All          39        54        1          *            7

Men          35        57        1          *            8
Women        42        52        *          *            6

Among moderates:
All          48        43        2          1            7

Men          45        43        2          1            8
Women        51        42        1          0            5

Q. Do you think ... views on most issues are too liberal for you, too conservative for you, or just about right?

McDonnell's:

            Too         Too        Just about     No
          liberal   conservative      right     opinion 
All          9           27            38         26

Men         10           26            43         21
Women        7           28            34         31

Among moderates:
All          7           30            35         28

Men          7           30            43         19
Women        7           30            27         36
Deeds':

            Too         Too        Just about     No
          liberal   conservative      right     opinion 
All         32            7            39         22

Men         34            7            41         18
Women       29            6            38         26

Among moderates:
All         23            6            49         22

Men         27            7            53         13
Women       20            5            46         30

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  01:45 PM ET, 09/01/2009

Categories:  Virginia, Virginia

 
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