The race to succeed retiring Sen. James Webb (D) has been a consistently tight affair, closely watched by both sides as Republicans see capturing the Virginia seat as crucial to their narrowing path toward control of the Senate. The two men have raised nearly $30 million combined, and more than $40 million has been poured into the race by outside groups — the most of any non-presidential race in the country, according to the Center for Responsive Politics — with the majority coming from Allen’s allies.
Kaine’s lead is fueled by a continued strong showing among women voters and voters in the Northern Virginia suburbs closest to the District, and comes despite growing advantages for Allen among whites and seniors. Kaine enjoys a 12-point edge on the question of which man would do a better job working with the other party on Capitol Hill — a focal point of Kaine’s message.
Brenda Dobbs, 52, a federal employee in Hampton, said she voted for Allen in his 1993 gubernatorial race. But times have changed, and now she’s backing Kaine.
“When he was running for governor, there was more cohesiveness in Virginia so he could listen to both sides,” Dobbs said of Allen. “I don’t think he will do that in Washington.”
Dobbs said she really wants the two parties “to get along and get something done,” and she’s hoping that Kaine’s “reputation for working together” will help.
Kaine has repeatedly portrayed himself as a bridge-builder who has worked with presidents of both parties. Allen and his allies have sought to dent that reputation by playing up Kaine’s service as Democratic National Committee chairman, portraying him as a simple follower of Obama’s lead.
Yet 59 percent of likely voters say Obama was not a factor either way in their choice for Senate, while 25 percent say they would use their Senate vote to express support for the president and 13 percent say they wanted to express opposition.
Allen is hoping to find more voters like T.B. Wright, 55, who manages a fuel distribution company in Concord, in central Virginia.
“I’m going to vote for Allen,” said Wright.“I like his conservative ideas. I think Kaine would be nothing but a puppet for Obama.”
Kaine has a seven-point lead on the question of which man better understands the economic problems of Virginians, and also has a 12-point advantage on which candidate is “the more friendly and likable person.”