One of the biggest prizes on the 2012 electoral map, Virginia represents a battleground where both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney believe they can win in November. A pair of polls released Thursday morning make the eventual outcome there all the more uncertain.
In one poll, released jointly by Quinnipiac University, CBS News and the New York Times, Obama leads Romney among likely voters in the state, 51 percent to 46 percent. The other, from NBC News, Marist College and the Wall Street Journal, shows Romney narrowly edging the president by one.
Interestingly, the Quinnipiac/CBS/NYT poll was conducted Oct. 4-9, which encompasses the period immediately following Obama’s underwhelming performance in the Oct. 3 debate. And while that poll shows a staggering 70 percent of Virginia voters believe Romney bested Obama in the debate, the president’s lead there actually expanded slightly since last month. Obama led Romney in the previous Quinnipiac/CBS/NYT survey of Virginia, 50 percent to 46 percent. The gender gap in Virginia is even wider than it was a month ago. Obama’s 16-point lead among Virginia women is 4 points larger than it was in September. Romney leads by 7 points among men, a 1-point bump.
Moreover, the poll shows the president’s favorability rating among Virginia voters stands at 54 percent, a 1-point uptick since September. Obama’s approval rating in the Old Dominion has likewise improved from last month, going from 49 percent to 52 percent. Romney’s favorability rating inched up a point as well, to 46 percent.
The NBC/Marist/WSJ survey shows that 91 percent of likely Virginia voters had already made up their minds before the debate, while 7 percent said they made their decision after the former Massachusetts governor’ successful outing in Denver. Romney’s narrow edge is a flip since the previous NBC/Marist/WSJ poll conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 1 that showed Obama up by 2 points among Virginia voters.
Virginia voters continue to be split over which candidate would do a better job presiding over the economy. Romney tops Obama on the question, 48 percent to 45 percent, a marginal change since the last NBC/Marist/WSJ poll that showed Romney holding a 1-point advantage on the economy. But the Republican nominee has cut the Obama’s previous 10-point edge on foreign policy in half.
The Quinnipiac/CBS/NYT poll used a sample of 1,288 likely Virginia voters with a margin of error of 3 percentage points. Conducted Oct. 7-9, the NBC/Marist/WSJ poll used a sample of 981 likely Virginia voters, which has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. Each poll used live phone interviews.
Tom Kludt is a newswriter for TPM. A former research intern and polling fellow for TPM, he lives and works in New York City. Tom graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Dakota in May of 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science and History. He can be reached at Tom (at) talkingpointsmemo.com.