The Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday shows Obama beating Romney, 47 percent to 42 percent, a slightly smaller margin than in March, when the former Massachusetts governor had yet to clinch the nomination.
Fifty percent of Virginians have a favorable opinion of Obama, the poll said. The number is lower — 39 percent — for Romney, but fewer people know him, according to the poll.
“President Barack Obama remains ahead in Virginia, but he is hearing Gov. Mitt Romney’s footsteps,’’ said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “His lead over Romney is built upon a continuing gender gap that favors him – essentially the president stays close among men while he is very strong among women.’’
Obama wins women 51 percent to 35 percent, while men tilt 49 percent to 44 percent for Romney.
Obama, who in 2008 became the first Democratic president to win Virginia in 44 years, is trying to repeat his victory. First lady Michelle Obama will campaign in the state Thursday, and the president will open his 16th campaign office in Virginia this weekend in Norfolk.
The GOP’s coordinated campaign to elect Romney — dubbed the 2012 Virginia Victory Campaign — has seven offices that have remained open since 2010.
Adding Bob McDonnell, the popular Virginia governor, to the GOP ticket as vice president would not help the Republicans carry the state, according to the poll. In a matchup of Obama and Vice President Joe Biden against Romney and McDonnell, the Democrats win, 48 percent to 43 percent.
Virginia voters oppose same-sex marriage, 49 percent to 42 percent, according to the poll, but only 25 percent say the issue is “extremely important” or “very important” in deciding how they will vote for president.
Twenty four percent say President Obama’s support for same-sex marriage makes them less likely to vote for him, 14 percent say it makes them more like. Sixty percent say it won’t affect their vote.
In 2006, Virginians overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
The Quinnipiac poll was conducted by live interviewers with 1,282 registered voters between May 30 and June 4, on land lines and cell phones. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.
Quinnipiac University releases periodic voter surveys of office holders, candidates and issues in Connecticut, New York, New York City, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida. Last year, it added Virginia, increasingly considered a swing election state.
The university released the first part of its June poll on Virginia issues on Wednesday.