The state of play in Virginia

The Viginia Senate race has, according to nearly every poll, been basically deadlocked for months. However, yesterday a CBS/NYT/Quinnipiac poll, taken between Sept. 11 and 17, showed Democrat Tim Kaine leading George Allen by 7 points, 51-44.

Fortunately, the poll looks like an outlier. A Rasmussen poll (from Sept. 12) showed Kaine up by only 2 points, 47-45. And PPP (Sept. 13-16) had the race Kaine 47-Allen 46.

The Virginia Senate race occurs, of course, in the context of the presidential race. Here the CBS/NYT/Quinnipiac poll shows Obama with a 4 point lead. Generally, Virginia polls indicate that the two races — presidential and Senate — are more or less in lockstep, with Obama, if anything doing slightly better than Kaine.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post has just released a poll in which Obama leads Romney 52-44 among likely Virginia voters. The poll used a sample consisting of 32 percent Democrat, 24 percent Republicans, and thus may be a skewed in favor of Obama. Indeed, Obama’s lead in Virginia in other polls from the past seven days (Rasmussen, WeAskAmerica, PPP, and the aforementioned CBS/NYT/Quinnipiac) ranges from 1-5 points.

So the bottom line in Virginia is, I think, this: If the election were held today, Obama probably would carry the state by a small margin and Tim Kaine probably would similarly prevail in the Senate race. But the big Democratic leads indicated by CBS/NYT/Quinnipiac (Senate) and the Washington Post (presidential) likely are illusory.