Democrats have taken a clear lead in Virginia’s two biggest elections this year, according to two new polls that show President Barack Obama maintaining a slight edge against GOP nominee Mitt Romney while Tim Kaine gained a new advantage over George Allen in the U.S. Senate race.
One of the polls, which was conducted by Quinnipiac University, the New York Times and CBS News, shows Kaine leading Allen by seven percentage points and Obama leading Romney by four. According to another poll by The Washington Post, Obama and Kaine both lead their opponents by eight points.
“It seems likely that the winner of the presidential race will carry along his party’s Senate candidate,” said Kyle Kondik, a spokesperson for the University’s bipartisan Center for Politics.
Though Kondik acknowledged poll averages show the two Democratic candidates currently on top, he questioned the strength of their advantage. “It seems like some of the polls are showing bigger Democratic advantages in a year in which it’s reasonable to expect that Obama will do worse than he did in 2008, even if he wins,” he said.
Despite the reassuring poll numbers, Democrats aren’t breathing sighs of relief just yet, Tim Kaine’s campaign manager Mike Henry said. “Every indication is that it’s going to be close until the end,” Henry said in an email Thursday.
Romney has spent the last week fending off attacks from a video leaked this week in which he claimed 47 percent of Americans don’t pay taxes and are dependent on the government for aid. Kondik, however, said “generally speaking these gaffes are more sizzle than steak – they are overanalyzed and then largely forgotten.”
Democrats seeking to make gains from the statements have not brushed them aside so quickly.
“Mitt Romney has written off nearly half of Americans… saying they are unwilling to take ‘personal responsibility’ for their lives,” said Dan Crawford, an Obama spokesperson in Virginia.
As November 6 draws near, polls are going to become better at predicting the outcome on Election Day, Kondik said.
“Mitt Romney and George Allen are going to have to start moving the numbers their way pretty soon in Virginia if they hope to win the state in their respective races,” he said.