NORFOLK -- Voters are split in a new poll of Virginia’s Second Congressional District, slightly favoring President Obama, but more strongly backing Republicans in the Senate and Congressional races.
The poll was conducted Oct. 2 through 8 by 13News, Christopher Newport University and The Virginian-Pilot.
The results are based on 766 telephone interviews in the Second District, with people who said they were registered and “very likely” to vote.
Poll results show President Obama leads Republican nominee Mitt Romney 45 percent to 44 percent, with 8 percent undecided, and 3 percent supporting other candidates.
In the race for U.S. Senate, 42 percent support Republican candidate George Allen, and 38 percent support Democrat Tim Kaine. Seventeen percent are undecided and three percent favor other candidates.
In the 2nd Congressional District race, 44 percent support Republican incumbent Representative Scott Rigell, and 32 percent are backing Democratic candidate Paul Hirschbiel. Twenty-one percent were undecided. Three percent say they are supporting other candidates.
Dr. Quentin Kidd, professor of political science and chairman of the Government Department at Christopher Newport University, served as pollster.
Kidd said he’s not surprised by any of the results, particularly in the presidential race.
“It shouldn’t be surprising. Barrack Obama won the Second District in 2008 by about five thousand votes,” said Kidd.
“So the fact that he is competitive in the Second (District) shouldn’t be surprising because he was competitive last time.”
Kidd said the many recent high-profile visits by both Obama and Romney play a role.
“I think we now understand why President Obama’s campaign and Mitt Romney’s campaign have been to Virginia Beach so often, and they’re likely to come back before the election because the race, in this snapshot in time, appears to be a dead heat," said Kidd.
When it comes to the race for the Senate, Kidd said Allen is a known commodity to Second District voters.
“I think George Allen has a history of being competitive,” said Kidd.
“Even when he lost to Jim Webb, he won the Second. So the last two times he’s run state-wide for U.S. Senate, he’s won the Second District. I think he has a footing in the Second District that’s more solid than his footing may be state-wide."
Kidd thinks the number of undecided voters increases the further you look down the ticket.
“I think George Allen and Tim Kaine may be having trouble because they’re being overwhelmed with attention from the presidential ads,” said Kidd.
“The Norfolk media market twice in the last several months has been number one on the nation in terms of the volume of presidential ads.”
In the Second Congressional District, Kidd said the incumbent Scott Rigell is benefiting from name recognition.
“I think Rigell was known, more known, in the district, having served one term in Congress,” said Kidd.
“Paul Hirschbiel’s job was more difficult or is more difficult because he’s having to introduce himself to the voters at a time when there’s not a lot of space, not a lot of oxygen left in the room because the presidential candidates have sucked it all up. So he’s having a real challenge trying to introduce himself to voters when voters are being overwhelmed with information from other campaigns.”
The polling in the Second District was broken up to mirror the way voting precincts are allotted in the Second District.
The breakdown of the 766 respondents is as follows: Virginia Beach, 62 percent; Accomack County, two percent; Northampton County, two percent; Hampton, 12 percent; Newport News, ten percent; Norfolk, 12 percent.
Of the 766 interviews, 547 were conducted via landline and 219 were cell phone interviews.
The margin for error is +/-3.5% at the 95 percent level of confidence.
Percentages may not equal 100 percent due to rounding. The poll was designed and analyzed by Kidd.
On Tuesday and Wednesday we’ll have poll results for some major public policy issues facing citizens of the Second District.