Are George Allen and his fellow Republicans enjoying a small resurgence in Virginia? It depends on which pollster you ask.
Three new surveys show somewhat divergent results in the commonwealth, both in Allen’s race for U.S. Senate against Timothy M. Kaine (D) and in the presidential contest in the wake of Mitt Romney’s (R) strong debate performance last week.
Two media polls give Kaine the lead, while an internal Allen campaign survey shows the Republican ahead.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll gives Kaine 47 percent and Allen 46 percent among likely voters, a narrowing of the five-point margin the same survey showed Oct. 3. And the survey shows Romney with a 48-47 edge over President Obama in the state, after Obama led by two points last week. Both the Senate and presidential races are within the poll’s 3.1 percent margin of error.
But a Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll of Virginia also released Thursday tells a different story: It shows Kaine with a seven-point lead and Obama with a five-point lead among likely voters. Those numbers are nearly identical to the results of the last survey by the same pollster, released last month.
“One reason why the president is doing better in Virginia than some other swing states could be that Virginians feel a little better about the economy than voters in other states,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a news release. “It is more difficult for Mitt Romney to go into Virginia with its sub 6 percent unemployment rate than in many other states and convince voters they should fire Barrack Obama for not doing enough to fix the economy.”
Kaine has now led in 11 of the last 12 publicly released independent polls of the Senate race, though several — like Thursday’s Marist survey — were within the margin of error.
That might explain why the Allen campaign decided to share its own new poll, conducted by John McLaughlin of McLaughlin & Associates. Campaigns rarely release internal surveys, and when they do it’s typically because they show their candidate doing better than in other polls.
McLaughlin’s survey shows Allen leading Kaine among likely voters, 49-46, while Romney is ahead 51-44. Notably, the poll shows Allen up six points among independents, while the Quinnipiac survey has Kaine up by nine points with that demographic.
McLaughlin’s poll used a sample of 30 percent a piece Democrats and Republicans, and 38 percent independents. The Marist sample was 30 percent Democrat, 28 percent Republican and 40 percent independent, while the Quinnipiac sample was 31percent Democrat, 28 percent Republican and 35 percent independent.
For more on the presidential polls, read The Fix’s take.