On Monday night, Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen participated in their second televised debate, in which the two discussed federal budget deficits, Medicare, and taxes, among other topics. The race between Kaine — Virginia's governor from 2006 and 2010 — and Allen — the state's governor from 1994 to 1998, and a senator from 2001 to 2007 — has become one of the most closely watched contests in the nation. Allen is running for the very seat he lost in the 2006 midterm election bloodbath that saw Republicans lose control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. He was defeated by Jim Webb, who is retiring at the end of his term in January. The final debate between Kaine and Allen is October 18 at 7pm in Blacksburg at Virginia Tech.
Republicans are hoping Virginia can provide them with an opportunity to pick up a senate seat in their efforts to retake the upper chamber, where the Democrats currently have a 53 to 47 majority. But polls at the moment indicate an uphill battle for the GOP, as Kaine leads Warner 51% to 44% among likely voters according to the latest poll from PPP. Each of the last three independently-conducted polls show Kaine leading Allen by at least five points. Furthermore, nine out of the last ten polls show Kaine leading. Real Clear Politics sums up the last ten polls:
In an election year where it seemed Republicans had a legitimate chance at reclaiming the White House while also retaking the senate, the state of the senate race in The Old Dominion should worry conservatives.
Once a solidly red state, Virginia has turned purple, going for Obama in 2008 while also electing Democrat Mark Warner to the Senate by a nearly 2 to 1 margin over his Republican rival. Although Ohio receives much of the attention as a presidential bellwether, in many ways Virginia, with its rapidly changing demographics — particularly in the northern part of the state — more closely mirrors the changes underway in the country as a whole.
Presidential polls in Virginia indicate that the state is very much a toss-up. The latest is a PPP survey showing Obama up by three points just days after Rasmussen showed Mitt Romney leading by a single point. Here's a look at the presidential polling picture in Virginia since the beginning of September, courtesy of Real Clear Politics:
And as always, it's important to note where the big money in this senate race is coming from: