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Virginia Notebook: McDonnell Is Writing Deeds's Campaign Ads

More than six in 10 women ages 18 to 44 said they think abortion should be legal in all or more cases. Only a slim majority of men, 51 percent, agreed.

Younger men and women were more alike on how government policies should treat homosexuality. Twenty-six percent of women in the age group said it should be viewed as acceptable, with 21 percent of men in agreement. At the other side of the issue, 10 percent of women said government should discourage homosexuality, and 13 percent of men said so. About two-thirds across the sexes say government should not get involved in the issue.

Women younger than 45 gave Deeds a 25-point advantage on handling issues of special concern to women. Among younger men, that measure was about even, with 44 percent giving the advantage to Deeds and 40 percent to McDonnell.

Younger women were also more likely than men to say Deeds is about right ideologically and that McDonnell would rely too heavily on his religious beliefs in policymaking.

All of these numbers illustrate why the Deeds campaign this week took a big gamble that women will not abide McDonnell's writings, launching $750,000 worth of advertising on the issue.

Can it work?

Here are the numbers that probably have Deeds's ad buyers most interested.

Two additional things are true about younger women, per the Post poll: They are more apt than men to say the thesis makes them less likely to vote for McDonnell. And they are less likely than men to say they know much about it.

Among younger female voters, 38 percent said the thesis makes them less likely to back McDonnell. Twenty-seven percent said it made them "much less likely" to do so.

But nearly half of women in the age group -- 49 percent -- said they know hardly anything or nothing about it. Only 30 percent said they knew a great deal or a good amount about it. That's compared with 43 percent of younger men.

If the Deeds campaign has its way, by the time Nov. 3 rolls around, every young woman in the state will have heard about McDonnell's graduate school thesis.

Television viewers should brace themselves for the onslaught.

The Post poll included interviews with 1,003 randomly selected Virginians likely to vote in the gubernatorial election, including users of conventional and cellular telephones. The results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. Error margins for subgroups are larger.

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