President Obama holds a slight and tenuous lead over Mitt Romney in Virginia, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday morning that also shows that, despite his high approval ratings, Gov. Bob McDonnell would provide no electoral boost in the state as Romney's running mate.
Obama leads Romney in the commonwealth, 47 percent to 42 percent, the poll shows. Eleven percent of voters prefer another candidate, say they won't vote or are undecided. Obama's lead has decreased slightly: In mid-March, with the GOP primary still unsettled, Obama led Romney, 50 percent to 42 percent.
Among male voters, Romney holds a slight lead over Obama, 49 percent to 44 percent. But Obama's overall advantage is built upon a wider lead among female voters, 51 percent to 35 percent. Obama also leads among independents, 45 percent to 37 percent; a larger percentage of this bloc of voters is undecided.
Romney wins 53 percent of white voters, according to the poll, 7 percentage points off Sen. John McCain's pace among these voters when he became the first Republican to lose Virginia since 1964. Obama captures 37 percent of the white vote, roughly equal to the 39 percent he won in 2008, according to exit polls.
Virginia's changing white population continues to aid Obama -- and makes the commonwealth more friendly to Democrats overall. Obama won 44 percent of white college graduates in 2008, and the new Quinnipiac poll pegs him at 45 percent among this group, just 2 points off Romney's pace (McCain won white college graduates by 11 points). Obama continues to struggle among downscale white voters; he earns the support of fewer than a third of white voters who did not graduate from college, trailing Romney, 57 percent to 32 percent. McCain won non-college whites in 2008, 66 percent to 32 percent.
Black voters favor Obama overwhelmingly, 82 percent to 10 percent, though that is down from Obama's 92-percent performance among African-Americans four years ago.
Obama also holds a commanding lead among young voters: Those under the age of 35 support Obama by a 40-point margin, 63 percent to 23 percent. The two candidates are tied among middle-age voters, and Romney leads among those 55 and older by 8 points.
In a separate ballot test, matching Obama and Vice President Biden against Romney and McDonnell, the Democratic ticket leads by an identical 5-percent margin, 48 percent to 43 percent.
Voters overall are mixed on Obama's image and job performance, which is destined to keep the race close in the commonwealth. Forty-eight percent of voters approve of the job Obama is doing as president, and 47 percent disapprove. Half have a favorable opinion of Obama, compared to 44 percent who have an unfavorable opinion.
Romney earns mixed marks on the favorability measure: 39 percent favorable and 37 percent unfavorable. That is a very slight improvement from mid-March, when slim plurality of voters had an unfavorable opinion of the former Massachusetts governor.
The poll was conducted May 30-June 4, surveying 1,282 registered voters via landline and cellular telephone. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 2.7 percentage points.
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