Barack Obama has built a substantial lead over Republican rival John McCain in the traditionally GOP stronghold of Virginia, according to a new poll released today.
Obama leads McCain 51 percent to 39 percent among likely voters, the Suffolk University poll found, echoing other recent polls that show the Democrat surging in battleground states.
"Barack Obama has built a coalition of suburban DC area progressives from the north, African-American voters from the south, and young voters statewide," David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Suffolk University in Boston, said in a statement. "That broad-based support suggests a 44-year Republican run in the Old Dominion State, dating back to Lyndon Johnson's victory in 1964, is in jeopardy."
The poll suggests that last Thursday's vice presidential debate helped the Democratic ticket. Three fourths of likely voters watched the debate, which tied for the second most-watched debate ever, and 46 percent said Democrat Joe Biden bested Republican Sarah Palin, while 26 percent said Palin won and 20 percent said neither did. One-third of respondents said the debate made them more likely to vote Obama, while 18 percent said they were more likely to support McCain, and 47 percent said the debate didn't affect their decision.
"The toxic state of the economy in the final year of the Bush Administration is making many Republican candidates radioactive,” Paleologos said. "As has been the case in other Suffolk battleground states, the recent Wall Street and economic turmoil has been costly to the Republican party in Virginia.”
The poll was conducted Friday through Sunday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, Suffolk said.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.