Deeds actually led in the two days of polling done by Public Policy Polling after an article in the Washington Post detailing McDonnell’s controversial master’s degree thesis from McDonnell in which he wrote among other things that working women are “detrimental” to society appeared on Sunday, PPP communications director Tom Jensen wrote on the polling organization’s blog.
“That should be taken with a grain of salt since the margin of error on that small a sample is +/-10.8 percent, but it is somewhat unusual for numbers to shift that strongly over the course of a field period, and it will be interesting to see the next rounds of polling conducted completely once the story has set in,” Jensen wrote on the PPP blog. “It’s the kind of thing that could get sleepy Democratic voters more engaged to head out to the polls in November.”
McDonnell had led Deeds 50 percent to 41 percent in the PPP polling done on Friday and Saturday, according to Jensen, and the four-day survey had McDonnell ahead overall by a 49 percent-to-42 percent margin, down from the 14-point gap that PPP had measured last month.
A poll conducted by the Republican-leaning Rasmussen Reports on Tuesday had the McDonnell lead at 49 percent to 39 percent for Deeds.
Another suggestion that the race could be narrowing – the approval ratings for President Barack Obama and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine are surprisingly strong. Obama had approval ratings of 52 percent in the PPP poll and 50 percent in Rasmussen. Kaine’s approval rating was 47 percent in the PPP data and 51 percent in Rasmussen.
Other tidbits from the data:
– PPP is measuring increased Democratic enthusiasm for Deeds. Deeds was winning only 64 percent of the black vote a month ago, but he’s now at 81 percent, perhaps an indication that radio ads on his behalf from Barack Obama are paying off, Jensen wrote. “And where a month ago Democratic interest in the election was so low that those planning to vote in November had supported John McCain by a 52-41 margin last year even though Obama won the state by six points, we now find that spread at only 49-45 in McCain’s favor. So even though the likely electorate is still considerably more conservative than the folks who turned out in 2008, Deeds is at least closing that gap,” Jensen wrote.
– From PPP: The attacks against McDonnell appear to be having at least some impact on his negatives. Where a month ago his favorability was 54/26, it’s now 53/31. Deeds’ name recognition has increased but his net popularity is about the same, going from 43/32 to 47/35.
– From Rasmussen: Just 49 percent of Likely Voters said they’ve followed news stories on the McDonnell thesis even somewhat closely. Twenty-four percent said they’ve followed the stories very closely.
Thirty-six percent said the writings are at least somewhat important in terms of how they will vote. Forty-nine percent said they’re not important. Nearly half of all Democrats consider the thesis important, while two-thirds of Republicans say they are not. Among those not affiliated with either major party, 32 percent say the writings are important, including 18 percent who say they are very important.
– Story by Chris Graham