WASHINGTON - A new WTOP Beltway Poll indicates Virginians and independents will be a critical source of votes this November.
Voters in Northern Virginia are almost evenly split between President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney, according to the WTOP Beltway Poll conducted by Heart+Mind Strategies.
Forty-eight percent of residents support Obama while 46 percent would vote for Romney. The difference falls easily within the poll's 4.17 percent margin of error.
Current models of national support show Virginia's 13 electoral college votes could be essential for a win in November. The Old Dominion went blue in 2008 for the first time since 1964.
A new CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac poll conducted between July 31 and Aug. 6 reinforces the WTOP poll numbers, with 49 percent support for Obama in Virginia versus 45 percent for Romney. The margin of error for this poll is +/- 2.6 percent.
The race is less contentious in Maryland, a traditionally Democratic state, where Obama receives 65 percent of the voter support compared to 22 percent for Romney, according to the WTOP poll.
In D.C., Obama has 83 percent of the vote compared to Romney's 11 percent.
Overall, Obama is winning more independents than Romney, according to the poll. This group could become the deciding factor in November amid an increasingly partisan voter base, according to a June study by the Pew Research Center. The poll shows Obama currently has more than twice the support of Romney among independents, 44 percent to 18 percent.
That partisanship extends beyond the White House bid. Virginians also must choose a replacement to fill the seat current U.S. Sen. Jim Webb will vacate, and the poll finds Tim Kaine and George Allen, both former Virginia governors, in a dead heat. Roughly half of residents support Kaine and 43 percent say they would vote for Allen.
While 92 percent of Democrats would cast their vote for Kaine, 81 percent of Republicans would vote for Allen.
Independents in Virginia are evenly split on the Senate race.
Editor's Note: The D.C. metro phone survey was conducted among 550 adults age 18 and over, between July 26 and July 29, 2012. This included representative samples of 200 people in Virginia (Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, Spotsylvania, Stafford) 250 in Maryland (Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Frederick, Montgomery, Prince George's and 100 in D.C.
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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)