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Poll shows tight presidential race in Virginia

Monday - 2/20/2012, 1:09pm  ET

AP: 9a4db2d8-c660-45a8-bcfb-eb9a4c3ed92c
Only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul qualified for the GOP ballot in Virginia. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - With just two weeks to go before Virginia's March 6 Republican primary, a new poll indicates voters' dissatisfaction with the GOP field.

President Barack Obama won Virginia in 2008, and the state could be key in the presidential election next fall. But the poll from Christopher Newport University shows 57 percent of Republican and Independent voters are not happy with the choices on the primary ballot.

Only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul qualified for the ballot in the Old Dominion.

Dr. Quentin Kidd with CNU's Center for Public Policy says the same poll shows Obama would win Virginia if Newt Gingrich were the GOP nominee. But he would be in a tight race if the nomination goes to Romney, Rick Santorum or Paul.

Romney polled 46 percent to 43 percent against the president, while Santorum polled 46 percent to Obama's 42 percent. Both Obama and Paul poll 43 percent. The poll, conducted by telephone, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

The president polled five points better than Gingrich.

"The president doesn't do well among Independents right now in Virginia," says Kidd.

The same poll shows Republican Senate candidate George Allen with a 42 percent to 40 percent lead over Democrat Tim Kaine -- within the poll's margin of error.

On other issues, the poll was taken before the House of Delegates approved a "personhood" bill that is still pending in the state Senate. But it shows 52 percent of those polled oppose the idea of life beginning at conception, while 41 percent support it.

Kidd says that is consistent with past polls on abortion.

"On abortion, generally you find 55, 53, 57 percent of voters support it in Virginia," says Kidd.

The poll also looked at the state's top three leaders. Half those polled think Virginia is moving in the right direction. Less than a quarter of them think the country as a whole is moving that way.

Six out of 10 approve of the way Gov. Bob Mcdonnell is doing his job. But Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's approval rating is at 40 percent and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling's approval rating was at 30 percent.

Cuccinelli and Bolling have already indicated they will run for governor in 2013.

The poll additionally shows that 66 percent of the public approve of the ban on purchasing more than one gun a month. The survey was taken the week before the Virginia General Assembly voted to repeal the ban.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)