The first post-Democratic primary poll shows Virginia Sen. R. Creigh Deeds leading former VA attorney general Robert McDonnell in the state’s gubernatorial race, 47 percent to 41 percent, with 10 percent undecided.
Surely Deeds–who handily defeated bigger-name opponents Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran in Tuesday’s Democratic primary–is reaping the political windfall from his win Tuesday and his crucial, May 22 endorsement by the Washington Post. Of course, his lead may shrink or even disappear as voters begin to think more specifically about the head-to-head matchup with McDonnell, in what should be a very intense and competitive race through the summer and fall. But it’s clear Deeds has made steady progress, trailing McDonnell in a potential head-to-head matchup by 6 points in late May and by a whopping 15 points back in mid-April.
Deeds’s lead in the latest Rasmussen is a byproduct of better intraparty support–89 percent of VA Democrats support him, compared to only 78 percent of VA Republicans who support McDonnell–and stronger favorability ratings. (Deeds’s 59 percent “somewhat favorable” rating among respondents edged McDonnell’s 52 percent.) McDonnell is, however, trusted more on issues of taxes and cutting spending, Rasmussen reports.
As almost everybody knows by now, this contest will be a rematch of the 2005 attorney general’s race which McDonnell won by a mere 323 votes. Given that voters already had to make a pairwise comparison of the two men four years ago, the mere 10 percent who remain undecided with five months to go is hardly surprising.