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Poll: Obama, Va. Senate race in '12 are dead heats

Thursday - 6/30/2011, 9:54am  ET

AP Political Writer

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Next year's marquee elections for president and U.S. Senate in Virginia are a dead heat right now, according to a new Quinnipiac University Poll released Thursday.

Voters were evenly split on President Barack Obama's job approval and whether he deserves a second term. Forty-eight percent felt he has done a good job and the same percentage felt he had not. Four percent offered no opinion.

Forty-seven percent felt Obama should be re-elected, 47 percent had the opposite view with 6 percent undecided.

Paired against an unnamed Republican nominee in a hypothetical matchup, 43 percent favored Obama, 41 percent would back the nameless Republican, 10 percent said it depends on who the GOP nominee is and 6 percent were undecided.

In 2008, Obama became the first Democrat in 44 years to win Virginia in a presidential race.

While the results weren't exactly even, they are well within the poll's margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points, making the differences statistically insignificant.

The same is true of a potential clash between former governors running for the U.S. Senate. Democrat Tim Kaine was the choice of 43 percent, and Republican George Allen was the choice of 42 percent. Allen faces opposition from tea party leader Jamie Radtke and a conservative Hampton Roads newcomer, E.W. Jackson, for the GOP nomination.

Like his friend Obama, Kaine had an enormous edge among young voters. Among voters 18 to 34 years old, 59 percent supported Kaine to 27 percent for Allen. But in all older age groups, Allen led by a margin of about 10 percentage points. When asked whether Obama deserved a second term, 60 percent of the youngest age group said yes.

Regardless of party affiliation, a majority of Virginians like Obama personally. Seventy-four percent overall said they like the president as a person. Among respondents who said they were Republicans, 56 percent liked him, and among professed Democrats, 94 percent liked him.

But respondents were about evenly split over Obama's policies. Forty-eight percent don't like his administration's agenda compared to 47 percent who do with 6 percent undecided. Among the important sector of independent voters who determine close elections, 54 percent didn't like Obama's policies while 39 percent liked them.

The poll found a majority oppose America's military involvement in Afghanistan and Libya. Fifty-five percent said the United States has no business in Afghanistan, and 60 percent said the country should not be involved in Libya.

By a narrower margin, a plurality said Congress should try to repeal the health care reforms enacted in 2010 by Obama and a Democratic Congress. Forty-nine percent supported its repeal, and 42 percent said it should be left alone.

A majority approved of Virginia's U.S. senators, both Democrats.

Jim Webb, whose plans not to seek a second term created the open seat Allen and Kaine seek next year, had a 50 percent approval mark to 31 percent who disapproved and 18 percent who offered no opinion.

Fifty-seven percent approved of the job Sen. Mark R. Warner, also a former governor, has done. Twenty-nine percent disapproved and 14 percent offered no opinion.

The results were based on telephone interviews of 1,434 Virginia registered voters from June 21-27 by the independent poll based at the university's Hamden, Conn., campus. It marked the first time Quinnipiac has polled Virginians on Virginia issues. With the addition of Virginia, Quinnipiac's Polling Institute now conducts regular scientific public opinion surveys in seven states and New York City. It also conducts nationwide surveys.

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