Virginia Senate race in a dead heat

Posted at 3:09 PM, May 08, 2012
and last updated 2012-05-08 15:09:27-04

By Kevin Liptak, CNN

(CNN) – A poll released Tuesday showed the race for Virginia’s hotly contested U.S. Senate seat in a dead heat, six months before voters in the Commonwealth head to the polls.

The Washington Post survey showed former Democratic Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine tied with the state’s past Republican governor and senator, George Allen. Both had backing from 46% of registered voters. Among independents, the race was similarly deadlocked: Kaine had support from 46% of independents, while Allen was at 45%.

Kaine and Allen are competing to fill the seat of retiring Sen. Jim Webb, a Democrat who has staked out a largely moderate position in the Senate. Kaine served as governor of the state from 2006-2010, and then went on to become the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Allen was governor of Virginia from 1994-1998, and then represented the state in the U.S. Senate beginning in 2001. He lost his re-election bid to Webb in 2006.

In Tuesday’s poll, Allen held a slight edge in favorability. Forty-six percent of respondents said they viewed the candidate favorably, compared to 31% who said they had an unfavorable impression of him.

Kaine’s favorability rating stood at 41%, with 39% of voters saying they viewed him unfavorably.

The poll also reflected a gender gap between the two candidates. Kaine led Allen among women 49%-42%, while Allen was ahead among men, 51%-43%.

Regionally, the poll reflected a familiar split between the Democrat-leaning Northern Virginia suburbs and the conservative areas in the rest of the state. Kaine was ahead of Allen in the DC suburbs, 58%-39%. Kaine also led Allen in the Tidewater region, which has a large African-American population, as well as a heavy military presence.

In the central and western part of the state, Allen led 54%-38%.

In first quarter fundraising reports released in April, Allen announced having $2.7 million cash on hand, compared to Kaine’s $4.4 million.

The Washington Post poll surveyed 964 registered voters by phone in Virginia from April 28-May 2. The sampling error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.