Gender gap key to winning VA in 2012

Posted at 2:16 PM, Jun 07, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-07 14:47:48-04

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) - President Obama remains ahead in Virginia polls, but presumed Republican candidate Governor Mitt Romney is gaining ground. This is according to a new survey from the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

In the first survey done by the university since Romney clinched the GOP nomination, he trails behind President Obama 47% to 42% percent in Virginia. However, this gap is closer than it was back in March when the President led 50% to 42%, but those numbers reflect the fact that Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul were still in the mix.

Key to the President's overall lead: the so-called gender gap. Virginia women overwhelmingly favor Obama to Romney, at 51% to 35%.

CBS 6 asked Republican Governor Bob McDonnell about the statistic. He said the Commonwealth's women will come around.

"Women want jobs for their kids. They want better financial stability for their own families," he said. "I think that regardless of what things show right now, the more Mitt Romney presses the case about why his ideas are going to create more jobs and more opportunity and more access to the American dream, the more men and women are going to say Mitt Romney's got better ideas."

While President Obama had a 16 percent lead over Romney with women, more Virginia men favor Romney. He had 49 percent of the male vote to President Obama's  44 percent.

CBS 6 Political Analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth said he expected Romney to try to exploit this to close in on President Obama.

"I think Mitt Romney is going to have a bigger gender gap among men by the time this election comes around in November," Holsworth said. "So at the moment this poll is showing a 5 point Obama lead, but I think it's going to end up being very very tight in Virginia."

Peter Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said this a common strategy among Republicans, but will still need to win over more Virginia women.

"For Romney to take the lead he will need to reverse the gender gap," Brown said. "Often when Republicans win, they use a solid lead among men and narrow their loss among women."

The poll also revealed  the economy is a big factor on the minds of Virginia voters, but they're divided on who would do a better job on fixing the nation's money problems. 46 percent pick Romney, 44 percent pick President Obama.

The survey also showed that Virginia voters oppose same-sex marriage 49 - 42 percent, but don't consider it a major factor in who they'll vote for.

Only 25 percent said it's extremely important" or "very important" in deciding how they'll vote for President.

You'll recall President Obama recently spoke of his personal support of same-sex marriage, but said he still believes individual states should make the call on the topic.

Romney has said he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman only.