VCU poll gives Bob McDonnell healthy lead
The Wilder School of Government at Virginia Commonwealth University just released a poll that gives Republican Bob McDonnell an 18 point lead in the race for Governor, with less than a week to go.
Here is the breakdown:
The numbers include so called “leaners”, who have yet to say they are definitely voting for a candidate, but are leaning in on direction.
One nugget from the poll that I found interesting: “Nearly seven in 10 (68 percent) likely voters see McDonnell as conservative or very conservative, while 16 percent call him moderate.” Yet, despite McDonnell’s clear conservative leanings, independent voters, according to this poll, are breaking for the Republican 56-29. It is perhaps even more evidence that the Deeds camp attack of McDonnell’s controversial masters thesis, never stuck.
The full release from the poll can be found after the jump..
VCU Commonwealth Poll Shows McDonnell with Strong Lead over Deeds; Perceptions of Candidate Ideology Differ by Vote
RICHMOND, Va. (Oct. 28, 2009) – In the final days of the gubernatorial campaign, Robert McDonnell holds an 18-point margin over his Democratic opponent, Creigh Deeds, among likely voters in Virginia, according to a new statewide survey conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University.
The Commonwealth Poll finds 54 percent of likely voters support or lean to McDonnell, 36 percent support or lean to Deeds. A 56 percent majority of independents are siding with or leaning to McDonnell, while 29 percent of independents are siding with or leaning to Deeds. Both candidates do well with rank-and-file members of their respective political parties.
While some observers have worried about voter apathy this year, those who are likely to cast a ballot see important differences between the candidates. About two-thirds of likely voters (65 percent) say it really matters who wins the gubernatorial election, 28 percent say things will be pretty much the same regardless of who is elected. Both McDonnell and Deeds supporters are about equally likely to say the outcome of the election will matter when it comes to making progress on important issues facing the state.
These findings are part of The Commonwealth Poll, a new statewide survey conducted by landline and cell telephone from Oct. 21 through Oct. 25, 2009, with a random sample of 1,007 adults in Virginia. The survey includes 871 registered voters and 625 likely voters. The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 4 percentage points for all adults and registered voters, respectively, and plus or minus 5 percentage points for likely voters.
Ideology in the Eye of the Beholder
Nearly seven in 10 (68 percent) likely voters see McDonnell as conservative or very conservative, while 16 percent call him moderate and 7 percent say he is liberal. Views of Deeds are more divided. A plurality of 44 percent say Deeds is either liberal or very liberal while 32 percent say Deeds is moderate and 8 percent say he is conservative.
Each candidate’s supporters take a very different view of the ideological bent of the two candidates. Those supporting McDonnell in the upcoming election are more likely to see his opponent, Deeds, as liberal; 64 percent of McDonnell’s supporters say Deeds is either liberal or very liberal. In contrast, among Deeds supporters just 21 percent call him liberal, while 55 percent say Deeds is moderate.
Views of McDonnell’s ideology are also strongly related to the vote. Deeds’ supporters are split between seeing his opponent, McDonnell, as either “very conservative” (38 percent) or “conservative” (31 percent). Among McDonnell’s likely voters, about seven in 10 say he is “conservative” (69 percent) but just 6 percent think McDonnell is “very conservative.”
“The controversy over McDonnell’s thesis raised a number of issues about the policy positions and ideological leanings of these candidates. It’s fascinating to see how differently Virginia voters see the choices before them. Deeds’ supporters mostly see a choice between a moderate Democrat and a very conservative Republican. McDonnell’s supporters mostly see a conservative, but not a very conservative, Republican and a liberal Democrat,” said Cary Funk, Ph.D., director of the Commonwealth Poll and associate professor in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs.
McDonnell vs. Deeds on the Issues
When asked which candidate would do the best job handling a set of five issues, McDonnell holds an advantage over Deeds on all but one area—the environment. When it comes to economic development, more say McDonnell would do a better job than Deeds (53 percent versus 29 percent). McDonnell is also seen as better able to handle the state budget shortfall; half of all likely voters say McDonnell would do a better job in this area, while 29 percent say Deeds would do better. On transportation, an issue where the two candidates have sparred over how to fund improvements, 47 percent say McDonnell, while 31 percent say Deeds would do the best job of handling transportation. The difference between the two candidates is less marked when it comes to education; 47 percent say McDonnell and 37 percent say Deeds would do the better job on education. When it comes to handling the environment, Deeds nudges out McDonnell with four in 10 likely voters saying Deeds would do a better job in this area, while 37 percent say McDonnell would do better.
Economic Conditions, Personal Finances, and Direction of State
Most Virginians, including most likely voters, see the state economy in negative terms. Seven in 10 Virginians call the economy only fair or poor, while 27 percent say it is excellent or good. The public is more optimistic about the economic outlook, however. Fully 47 percent of adults in Virginia say the state economy will be better a year from now, 38 percent say it will be about the same and 9 percent think it will be worse. Likely voters make similar assessments.
About half of Virginians describe their personal financial situation as excellent or good (47 percent) with a nearly equal portion (51 percent) saying their finances are only fair or poor. Roughly a quarter (26 percent) of Virginians say their finances have been hurt a great deal by the economic downturn. A plurality of 46 percent say their finances have been hurt some and 26 percent say the downturn has had either no effect or not too much effect on their personal finances.
When asked about the overall direction of the state, 41 percent of all Virginians say the state is headed in the right direction, 44 percent say the state is off on the wrong track and 15 percent are undecided. Views about the state’s overall direction are related to assessments of the economy and personal finances as well as partisan leanings. Those with lower incomes and who report being hurt by the economic downturn a great deal are more likely to say the state is headed in the wrong direction. In addition, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say the state is headed in the wrong direction.
Kaine Job Performance
Opinion about the job performance of Gov. Tim Kaine is down by five points from last October. Among those with an opinion about this (930 respondents) today, 43 percent call Kaine’s job performance excellent or good, while 57 percent say it is fair or poor. A year ago, 48 percent of those rating said Kaine’s job performance was excellent or good, 52 percent said it was fair or poor.
Independents have been split over Kaine’s job performance since early in his term but now most independents hold a negative view of Kaine’s performance. In April 2006, half of independents rating the governor gave him an excellent or good job rating. Today, 38 percent of independents with an opinion about this say Kaine is doing an excellent or good job, and 62 percent rate his job performance as fair or poor.
A majority of Democrats rate Kaine’s performance in positive terms; 61 percent of Democrats with an opinion say he is doing an excellent or good job, up six points from a year ago. Among Republicans rating Kaine, 27 percent say he is doing an excellent or good job today; this compares with 38 percent who said the same last year.
“Opinion about the governor’s performance dropped in the latter half of his term. Given both the tough economic times facing the state and the increasingly prominent role that Governor Kaine is playing in the Democratic Party, it is not surprising that his support has slipped, especially among Republicans,” Funk observed.
Obama Job Performance
Virginians are divided about the job performance of President Barack Obama. Overall, 49 percent say Obama is doing an excellent or good job as president, while 48 percent say his job performance is fair or poor. Opinion about Obama is closely tied to partisan leanings. Fully 82 percent of Democrats rate Obama’s performance in positive terms; the same portion of Republicans rate Obama’s performance in negative terms. Among independents, 42 percent say Obama’s job performance is excellent or good, while 55 percent say it is fair or poor.
About the VCU Commonwealth Poll
§ State-wide survey conducted by landline and cell telephone with a random sample of adults in Virginia
§ Conducted Oct. 21 to Oct. 25, 2009
§ 1,007 adults; 871 registered voters; 625 likely voters
§ Margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points for all adults and registered voters, respectively; plus or minus 5 percentage points for likely voters
§ Likely voters is based on an index of six items: being registered to vote, intention to vote, attention to the campaign, past vote in any election, past vote in the 2005 gubernatorial election, and frequency of voting
§ For more details, including results by demographic groups, see the PDF of the full report at http://www.CommonwealthPoll.vcu.edu/.
About VCU and the VCU Medical Center: Virginia Commonwealth University is the largest university in Virginia with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located on two downtown campuses in Richmond, VCU enrolls 32,000 students in 205 certificate and degree programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-five of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 15 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University compose the VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see http://www.vcu.edu.