- The Tea Party's popularity has topped out and is dropping like a rock;
- Social issues barely register with Virginia residents in national political races;
- President Obama beats all Republican candidates head to head (except Romney, with whom he is tied);
- Romney has a narrow lead among Republicultists;
- George Allen has a slight lead over Tim Kaine for Virginia's vacant senatorial seat.
Here's Roanoke College's edited press release:
Republican George Allen has opened an eight-point lead (45 percent-37 percent) on Democrat Tim Kaine in a likely November matchup for the U.S. Senate seat from Virginia according to The Roanoke College Poll. In potential Presidential election scenarios, President Obama leads all Republican candidates except Mitt Romney, with whom he is statistically tied.
The Roanoke College Poll interviewed 607 residents of Virginia between February 13 and February 26. The Poll has a margin of error of +/-4 percent.
Allen holds an 8-point lead over Kaine, up from a three-point margin in September . That current margin is unchanged when looking only at registered voters. Allen leads among political Independents (43-38), but he trails Kaine among ideological moderates (50-33). Allen benefits from the much greater percentage of self-identified conservatives. There is also a gender gap with the potential candidates tied among women (40-40), but Allen leads among men (49-33).
Virginians are somewhat more optimistic about the direction of the country compared to September (25 percent think the United States is on the right track compared to 15 percent in September), but two-thirds (67 percent) still think the country is headed in the wrong direction.
In one of the more surprising findings, those disagreeing with the Tea Party movement now outnumber supporters 48 percent-38 percent, a margin greater than last September’s (37-29).
All of the remaining Republican Presidential candidates fared poorly in terms of the public’s impression of them. Rick Santorum was the best with 35 percent favorable and 47 percent unfavorable, followed by Mitt Romney (28 and 47), Ron Paul (26 and 54), and Newt Gingrich (21 and 64). President Obama’s ratings were 44 and 4%, while Governor McDonnell’s were 57 and 26.
In potential November matchups, President Obama is statistically tied with Mitt Romney (42-43), but leads Rick Santorum (45-39), Ron Paul (45-35), and Newt Gingrich (48-37). In September 2011, Romney led Obama by 8 percent.
While social issues have become more prominent in the Republican primaries and caucuses, Virginians are still focused on the economy. When asked the most important problem facing the country today, the top three issues were the economy in general (43 percent), unemployment (24), and the budget deficit (9). All other issues combined comprised only 24 percent of responses, with none exceeding 4 percent.
Virginians are still most likely to blame former President George W. Bush for current economic conditions (23 percent), while 22 percent blame financial institutions and 19 percent blame President Obama.
President Obama’s approval rating is up slightly, though statistically unchanged (41 in February vs. 39 in September), while Governor Bob McDonnell’s approval is down (60 vs. 67) as is approval of Senator Mark Warner (62 vs. 67). Approval of Congress remains both unchanged at 11 percent.
President Obama’s numbers have improved along with views of the national economy, although both remain weak,” said Harry Wilson, director of the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research. “The continuous bashing of Republican candidates by other Republican candidates appears to have resulted in low approval ratings of all them. They continue to emphasize social issues on the campaign trail, while Virginians remain focused on the economy.”