Virginia's governor's race

New Public Policy Polling Poll Shows McDonnell Still Leading

Public Policy Polling, a Democrat polling organization, released a new poll this morning (see its news release here) that shows Republican Bob McDonnell maintaining a lead over Democrat Creigh Deeds in Virginia's governor's race by a 48-43 margin. This is smaller than previous polls. However, given the leftward slant of the organization, and the relentless attacks by Deeds on McDonnell for the last three weeks, it appears to be good news for the Republican. See Bruce Drake at his Poll Watch Blog here for insight on the internal numbers, while the Richmond Times-Dispatch mentions methodology here. Republican consultant Peter Foster looked at the poll's internals and offered us this analysis of how the numbers must play out for each candidate:

The good news is that McDonnell continues to lead by five points heading into the final month. While this is closer than they (PPP) had the race two months ago, that appears to be entirely the result of Democrats waking up and realizing there's an election going on. McDonnell still leads among independents by a margin of 53-37 percent, and he's getting 96 percent of the Republican vote. Deeds is getting 82 percent of the Democrat vote. One potential issue with these poll numbers is that they probably oversampled Democrats overall, as their respondents are 37 percent Democrat, only 29 percent Republican, and 34 percent self-identified independent. I seriously doubt that that will be an accurate reflection of the Election Day turnout, but, for argument's sake, let's play with those numbers.

The reason to expect the race to continue to get closer is that of the nine percent who are undecided, 53 percent are Democrats, while only seven percent are Republicans. The other 40 percent are independents. Currently, McDonnell is getting 98 percent of the Republicans who have made up their minds and 59 percent of independents who have made up their minds, and Creigh Deeds is getting 94 percent of Democrats who have made up their minds. If you follow that formula and give McDonnell 98 percent of the Republican undecideds and 59 percent of the independent undecideds, and give Deeds 94 percent of the Democratic undecideds, then this adds up to a very close race on Election Day, with McDonnell winning with 51.03 percent of the vote.

The bottom line is that McDonnell is in the stronger position headed into the final month, but it's going to be a very close race, and, regardless of what the turnout percentages end up being in terms of Republican, Democrat and independent, if McDonnell maintains his levels of support among Republicans and among independents, he'll win in a close race.

Once last thing to consider are two factors are not fully measured by the polls. One is the lower turnout among specific, traditional Democrat voting blocs, such as black voters, which surely will be affected by former governor, and fellow Democrat, Doug Wilder's refusal to endorse Deeds, as well as some liberal base groups who are turned off by his flip-flops over the years on social issues. The second is under reported story — the registration of thousands of new conservative voters by several organizations, such as pro-life, Second Amendment and Tea Party groups.