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Gilmore Still Down 30 Points in Va. Poll

Members of Wave Church in Virginia Beach -- evangelical Christians who could have a say in the outcome of the presidential election -- discuss their views.Video by Whitney Shefte/washingtonpost.com

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By Anita Kumar and Jennifer Agiesta
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, October 27, 2008

Republican James S. Gilmore III has gained no ground in his U.S. Senate campaign against Democrat Mark R. Warner, according to a new Washington Post poll, despite Gilmore's attempts in recent weeks to hammer Warner for his support of the financial rescue plan.

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Gilmore trails Warner among likely voters, 61 percent to 31 percent. The 30-point spread is identical to a Post poll last month and virtually the same as one conducted in October 2007.

Gilmore and Warner, both former governors, are vying to replace retiring Republican Sen. John W. Warner in a race that has been overshadowed by the battle for Virginia in the presidential election.

The poll shows that support for Warner in Northern Virginia, the Democrat's home base, far exceeds Gilmore's: 65 percent to 28 percent. His lead is almost 2 to 1 in all other regions of the state. Warner leads 58 percent to 36 percent in rural areas, traditional Republican strongholds where he has made significant inroads.

More than six in 10 voters polled believe Warner's views on most issues are ideologically aligned with theirs. Fewer than four in 10 think Gilmore's positions are about right.

Warner started a Democratic resurgence in the state when he won the governor's mansion in 2001. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and Sen. James Webb, both Democrats, continued that trend by winning statewide races in 2005 and 2006.

If Warner wins Nov. 4, Virginians will be represented by two Democratic senators for the first time since 1970.

Warner calls himself a centrist leader who can work with both parties, and he left office with record-high approval ratings. The Post poll shows that he receives support from 29 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of independents. Seventy percent of those who call themselves moderate support Warner.

Gilmore, who narrowly beat his conservative opponent at his party's nomination convention this summer, received support from 58 percent of conservatives and 56 percent of white evangelical Protestants.

Gilmore, who served as governor from 1998 until 2002, and Warner, who replaced him, have spent much of the campaign criticizing each others' gubernatorial records. Voters' reasons for favoring a candidate reflect that.

Ann Wilkes, 56, a part-time writer at a law firm who lives in Fairfax County, said she voted for Warner for governor because she thought his moderate views were more in line with hers and those of others in Northern Virginia. She plans to vote for him again based on his record.

"He was a good governor,'' she said. "He rated very highly and did a good job."

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