The race to become the next governor of Virginia has gotten a lot closer. Right now, it’s effectively a toss-up between Republican Robert F. McDonnell and Democrat R. Creigh Deeds.
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Virginia voters finds McDonnell attracting 48% of the vote while Deeds picks up 46%. Two weeks ago, McDonnell held a nine-point advantage. In August, McDonnell was up by eight.
All of those figures include “leaners.” Leaners are those who initially indicate no preference for either of the candidates but answer a follow-up question and say they are leaning towards a particular candidate.
The survey two weeks ago was conducted shortly after The Washington Post ran news stories about a thesis paper written by McDonnell in 1989. The thesis reflected very conservative views on the role of women in society and other topics. Fifty-two percent (52%) of voters now say the writings are at least somewhat important in terms of how they will vote. That’s up from 36% in the previous survey. The number of unaffiliated voters who consider the writings important is up to 47%.
The Washington Post endorsement of Deeds played a key role in helping him win the Democratic nomination earlier this year.
McDonnell’s support remains a bit more solid than Deeds’. Eighty-one percent (81%) of those who plan to vote for the Republican candidate are certain they will not change their mind. Seventy-four percent (74%) of Deeds supporters say the same. Among those who are certain, McDonnell leads by seven percentage points.
The tightening of the race over the past two weeks comes from a shift in the views of voters who might change their minds. Currently, those voters are leaning in Deeds' direction. Fifty-four percent (54%) of Virginia voters have a favorable view of McDonnell while 50% say the same about Deeds.
McDonnell is down a point over the past two weeks while Deeds is up two.
Rasmussen Reports is an electronic publishing firm specializing in the collection, publication, and distribution of public opinion polling information.