The presidential race in Virginia is a virtual dead heat and Democrat Tim Kaine holds a slight lead in the state’s closely watched U.S. Senate race, according to a new statewide poll released this morning.
The Quinnipiac University-New York Times-CBS News survey shows President Barack Obama with a statistically insignificant lead of 2 percentage points over Republican challenger Mitt Romney, 49 percent to 47 percent. Romney has gained ground since on Oct. 11 Quinnipiac poll that had Obama leading by 5 points, and most public opinion surveys released in the past week indicate that the key battleground state is up for grabs.
Romney will return to Virginia on Thursday, with campaign stops scheduled in Roanoke, Caroline County and Virginia Beach. First Lady Michelle Obama will campaign for the president Friday at Virginia State University in Petersburg and in Hampton.
In the Senate race, Kaine leads Republican George Allen by 4 percentage points, 50 percent to 46 percent. But the new poll shows Allen with an 18-point lead among self-described independent voters. That represents a wild swing from the Oct. 11 poll, which had independents favoring Kaine by 11 points.
Romney holds a 21-point lead over Obama among independents, according to the poll.
In Quinnipiac’s polling sample, 35 percent identified themselves as Democrat, 35 percent as independent and only 27 percent as Republican.
The results come from a telephone survey of 1,074 likely voters conducted between Oct. 23 and Sunday, before Hurricane Sandy began to lash the state. The poll has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
Half of the Virginia voters surveyed said they have been contacted by both of the presidential campaigns via letter, e-mail, telephone call or in person by a campaign worker. Another 14 percent said they have been contacted only by Romney’s campaign, and 12 percent only by Obama’s campaign.
The Virginia results are part of a Quinnipiac survey of three key swing states in the presidential election. The poll has Obama leading Romney in the battleground state Ohio by 5 points, 50 percent to 45 percent. Florida is a tossup in the Quinnipiac poll, with Obama at 48 percent and Romney at 47 percent.
– Michael Sluss