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By Anita Kumar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 20, 2009

RICHMOND

In every gubernatorial race in Virginia since 1977, the party that won the White House lost the Governor's Mansion.

Coincidence? Maybe, but Virginia's tradition is understandable.

After an administration comes in, people are naturally anxious. Some think the president is moving too fast, some think he is moving too slow.

In a Washington Post poll released this week, only 34 percent of registered voters in Virginia think the nation is moving in the right direction, and only 47 percent think the state is -- down from 65 percent in 2005.

The poll shows that discontent about the nation and the state -- run by Democrats as president and governor -- is helping fuel Republican Robert F. McDonnell's early lead over Democrat R. Creigh Deeds in the race for governor.

McDonnell is favored over Deeds among registered voters, 47 to 40 percent, and is up by an even steeper margin, 54 to 39 percent, among those who say they are certain to vote in November. In left-leaning Northern Virginia, where federal issues are most acute, the two run about even, 45 percent for Deeds to 42 percent for McDonnell among registered voters.

The poll shows that President Obama and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, who moonlights as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, remain relatively popular, though their approval ratings have dropped.

Fifty-seven percent of adults polled approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president, while 55 percent of registered voters said they approve of the way Kaine is handing his job.

Obama, who recently visited McLean to campaign with Deeds, won the state last year by seven points, becoming the first Democrat running for the White House to carry Virginia since 1964.

Thirty-four percent say Obama's support for Deeds makes them more likely to vote for him, and 34 percent say it makes it less likely.

"I don't know that Deeds is a bad guy, but I don't like who he associates with, like President Obama," said J. Brownley Cox, 77, a retired president of a farm credit cooperative who lives in Waverly. "Has anyone stopped to count up how much of our money he's throwing away? He's got no respect for anybody else's money. He talks about change, but he wants to throw the bath water and the baby and everything out."


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