Tuesday, September 15, 2009

State of the Race: Virginia Governor (9/15/09)

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Was it the thesis?

That will be the question asked all day Wednesday when this new Clarus Research Group poll sees the light of day in the morning. Regardless of whether it was Bob McDonnell's thesis or something else, the margin between the former Virginia Attorney General and Democratic state senator Creigh Deeds is as narrow as it has been in any poll since mid-July.

2009 Virginia Gubernatorial Race Polling
Margin of Error
Clarus Research Group
Sept. 10-14, 2009
+/- 4%
600 registered voters

Notably Deeds has pulled even with McDonnell among women (a figure that has been all over the place in recent polling in the Old Dominion) and has a slight edge (five points) among voters in vote-rich Northern Virginia. Solid numbers for the Democrat.

However, there are some aspects of this poll that stand out.
1) 20% undecided? In September? That is a very high number this late in the race. Now, it could just simply be that some respondents in this sample are reconsidering their position given the news in the race of late, but are hesitant to shift over to Deeds completely. There has not been a total of undecideds that high since the Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll a week before the Democratic primary; in other words, in a time when there was uncertainty surrounding Deeds' viability or even candidacy.

2) Registered voters? Again, at this late stage, most polling firms have switched to a likely voters only model (and others are even including leaners. cough! Rasmussen. cough!). It is curious, then, that Clarus has stuck with the registered sample and not the narrower likely voter sample. We saw just yesterday in the Monmouth poll in New Jersey how large a discrepancy can exist between the two samples. Chris Christie led by eight points among likely voters, yet Jon Corzine edged the former US attorney out among registered voters by a point (something the DNC wanted to point out today.). That's a nine point swing. A similar nine point swing in Virginia would put McDonnell up 14 (Not that that would be the case here. I'm just trying to illustrate what we're actually looking at in this case.) and that would be in line with the Survey USA poll that was released the week after the thesis revelation occurred.

Of course, FHQ did state last week, that we would have to give it a week or so to see how much impact the bombardment of thesis stories would have on the race. That much time is now behind us, and the race looks closer.

...with some caveats.

As for FHQ's graduated weighted average of the race, McDonnell has been pulled back under the 50% mark but continues to hold a sizable advantage over Deeds. Is the momentum on Deeds' side now, though? Maybe. But recall that there were a series of polls that had Corzine within a handful of points of Christie about two weeks ago. Those polls now seem a part of the distant past, however.

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Recent Posts:
State of the Race: New Jersey Governor (9/15/09)

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State of the Race: New Jersey Governor (9/14/09)

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