Shifting opinions among female voters and Northern Virginians have pushed the race between Republican Bob McDonnell and Democrat Creigh Deeds into a four-point ballgame with just over 40 days until Election Day.
A new Washington Post poll found that McDonnell is still leading in the race, but the comfortable 15-point margin that he enjoyed during the summer months has apparently dissipated, likely linked the the intense focus on McDonnell's 20-year-old graduate school thesis from what is now Regent University.
Now the margin is 51 percent for McDonnell and 47 percent for Deeds.
The shifting landscape has to be a concern for the GOP and you could tell that Team McDonnell was in damage control mode when the thesis hit and during the ensuing campaign weeks as Democrats have repeatedly pounded it as McDonnell's blueprint for government.
Republicans can take some solace in the fact that Deeds recently did himself no favors with what was roundly considered a difficult appearance in front of business leaders in a debate in vote-rich Fairfax.
Reporters Anita Kumar and Jon Cohen at the Post have a nice analysis of the poll, including some telling quotes from different folks on how they view McDonnell 93-page thesis, which included derogatory references to working women and "fornicators, cohabitators and homosexuals."
The ramifications of the paper depend on your perspective, here are a couple telling quotes:
"He's all those things they discovered in the thesis," said Ray Ellen, 62, a retired state employee from Fairfax County who responded to the poll. "McDonnell likes to change the subject frequently. . . . This guy has everybody fooled."
Laura Morefield, 39, a Chesterfield mother of three young children and a part-time teacher at Virginia Commonwealth University, said she continued to support McDonnell after learning about the thesis. "It doesn't really matter. When you look at him today, his wife works, his daughter works," she said.
For the full Post story on Deeds gaining on McDonnell click here....
You always have to remember that political polling is not a flat black-and-white game. The tone, tenor and content of questions can alter outcomes dramatically and partisan observers also usually take a close look at the sample of voters because a small or skewed pool of folks can give you a bad read on the public