Story by Chris Graham
Democrat Tom Perriello faces a tough two- or three-way battle in his bid for re-election to the Fifth District congressional seat, according to a poll released Thursday by Public Policy Polling.
Perriello runs even with Republican nomination frontrunner Robert Hurt in a two-way race, with both at 44 percent in a hypothetical matchup. Hurt, a Southside state senator, is one of seven candidates currently in the running for the GOP nomination in the Fifth.
The possibly entree of former Republican congressman Virgil Goode into the race would at the moment sink a potential Hurt candidacy while also still pushing Perriello. The PPP numbers for a Perriello-Goode-Hurt three-way has Perriello and Goode at 41 percent each and Hurt well back in third at 12 percent.
“Right now it’s clear this will be a closely contested race,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling. “What Virgil Goode ends up deciding to do is a pretty significant factor though. If he decided to run as a Republican he’d probably be the favorite.”
That statement is based on Goode’s surprisingly high favorables uncovered in the polling. Goode was rated favorably by 58 percent of voters surveyed, with 29 percent having an unfavorable view. Perriello’s numbers have him slightly in the negative, with 42 percent viewing him favorably and 46 percent viewing him unfavorably.
Hurt and the rest of the slate of candidates for the nomination are blank slates at this point in time, with 70 percent or more expressing no opinions on the favorability or unfavorability of any of the individuals who have declared their candidacies on the Republican side.
The National Republican Campaign Committee wasted no time seizing upon the release of the poll to take a shot at Perriello.
“This poll confirms what we’ve known all along: Tom Perriello’s unique re-election strategy – conscientiously identifying what Virginians expect out of their congressman and then doing the exact opposite – is backfiring in a big way,” NRCC spokesman Andy Seré said in a statement.
That looks like a bit of hyperbole, to say the least. Perriello won the seat representing the Fifth by a narrow 727-vote margin over Goode.