The Virginia Senate race is a dead heat, and Old Dominion voters are split on re-electing President Obama, according to a new poll that shows that the commonwealth is shaping up to be a key political battleground in 2012.
According to the poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University, former Gov. Tim Kaine, until recently chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has a scant, statistically insignificant one-point advantage over former Sen. George Allen, R-Va., 43 percent to 42 percent. More than one in ten voters is undecided, despite the fact that Kaine and Allen -- also a former governor of the commonwealth -- are well-known figures, in part a function of Virginia's one-term limit for governors.
Men choose Allen, 47 percent to 40 percent, and women tilt towards Kaine, 45 percent to 37 percent.
Voters are split evenly on re-electing Obama: 47 percent think he deserves to be re-elected, while 47 percent do not. The percentages of voters who approve and disapprove of Obama's job performance are equal: 48 percent. And Obama is in a dead heat against a generic Republican challenger, leading 43 percent to 41 percent.
Independent voters in the state are tilting slightly against Democrats, however. More than half of independents -- 54 percent -- disapprove of Obama, and, in the Senate race, Allen leads Kaine narrowly among this group, 46 percent to 38 percent.
The "Mother of Presidents" could help decide next year's presidential race, and control of the Senate may hinge on the campaign to succeed Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va. Both races are expected to make the Old Dominion a hotbed of political activity -- and money -- for the next 17 months.
The Quinnipiac poll -- the first time the school has polled in Virginia -- surveyed 1,434 registered voters from June 21-27. The margin of error is +/- 2.6 percent.