SALEM, Va., Oct. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- President Barack Obama has opened an 8-point lead (47% - 39%) over Mitt Romney in Virginia, according to The Roanoke College Poll, as the two candidates head into the first presidential debate. Democrat Tim Kaine enjoys a 10-point margin (47% - 37%) over Republican George Allen in the race for the U.S. Senate seat in Virginia.
The Roanoke College Poll interviewed 589 likely voters in Virginia between Sept. 19 and Sept. 28 and has a margin of error of +4 percent. Employing a more stringent screen for likely voters (N=427) reduces the number of undecided voters, but leaves the margins virtually unchanged (Obama 49%, Romney 41%; Kaine 48%, Allen 39%).
"There is very little good news for the Romney campaign in these results," said Harry Wilson, director of the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research. "Entering the first of three presidential debates Governor Romney has his work cut out for him, but the election is far from over. He can hope that the undecided voters are looking for a reason not to vote for the President and that he can offer it to them in the debates.
"With President Obama polling well in numerous demographic categories, his lead in Virginia is significant. That said, we have seen many leads this large or even bigger lost in the last weeks of a campaign when most voters really tune in to politics. The debates can be game-changers.
"Virginia is close to a 'must-win' state for Romney, and his scheduled joint appearance with Rep. Ryan in the state the day after the debate underscores its importance. He needs to start making up ground pretty quickly.
"Republicans have recently been making the argument that some likely voter models overestimate the turnout of Democratic-leaning groups. That argument does not seem to hold in Virginia. Using a more restrictive voter model yields the same eight-point margin for Obama as a less restrictive model."
More information and full results are available at: http://roanoke.edu/News_and_Events/Campus_News/RC_Poll_Sept_Oct_2012.htm
SOURCE Roanoke College