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Posted September 9, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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McDonnell maintains lead despite thesis issues

By Garren Shipley -- gshipley@nvdaily.com

Republican Bob McDonnell's lead over Democrat Creigh Deeds in the race for the Executive Mansion is fairly stable, according to a new poll from SurveyUSA.

The former attorney general continues to lead the sitting state senator by double digits, 54 percent to 42 percent.

The poll, done for WJLA-TV in Washington and released over the long Labor Day weekend, was the first multi-day poll to be conducted and released since stories first appeared about McDonnell's controversial 1989 master's thesis.

Democrats argue the thesis, a policy analysis of how Republicans could support the traditional family going into the 1990s, shows McDonnell is far out of the mainstream on social issues.

The former attorney general has repeatedly renounced much of the document, saying his views on social issues have moderated markedly in 20 years.

Deeds' campaign has hammered on the issue since the story first appeared, launching a blitz of radio and Internet ads, accusing McDonnell of planning to take Virginia "back to the dark ages."

Voters so far don't appear to have been moved significantly by the story.

SurveyUSA's poll finds McDonnell
continuing to siphon off significant numbers of voters in the middle or traditionally aligned with Democrats.

Deeds captures some 19 percent of voters who identified themselves as pro-life, but McDonnell takes 31 percent of voters who said they are pro-choice.

Separated by party, McDonnell loses 7 percent of Republicans, while Deeds loses a full 19 percent of Democrats. Independents also break strongly for the GOP candidate -- 52 percent to 41 percent.

The poll also found the "enthusiasm gap" between Democrats and Republicans described by other pollsters continues.

President Obama carried Virginia by 6 points in November.

But if the likely voters identified by the SurveyUSA poll had been the voters who showed up at the polls, they would have given Virginia to Republican John McCain by a 7-point margin.

Republicans also lead the other two statewide races.

Incumbent Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling continues to lead former Democratic Finance Secretary Jody Wagner by 12 points, 52 percent to 42 percent, with 6 percent undecided.

In the race for attorney general, State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, R-Fairfax, also holds a significant lead over Del. Steve Shannon, D-Vienna, 54 percent to 41 percent, with 6 percent undecided.

The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent.

Election Day is Nov. 3.

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