Earlier today, the CBS/NYT/Q-poll put Mitt Romney down two points in Virginia, despite leading among independents by 21, thanks to a D+8 sample that had GOP turnout ten points lower than in 2009 and six points lower than 2008.  Roanoke College surveyed likely voters in Virginia in roughly the same time period, and found quite a different result.  Romney lead Barack Obama by five in their final poll, 49/44, with internals that look pretty familiar:

Governor Mitt Romney has overtaken President Barack Obama by a very narrow margin in Virginia (49% – 44%), according to a Roanoke College Poll conducted after the Presidential debates. Republican George Allen also enjoys a 5 point lead over Democrat Tim Kaine (47% – 42%) in the race for the U.S. Senate seat in Virginia. The Roanoke College Poll interviewed 638 likely voters in Virginia between Oct. 23 and October 26 and has a margin of error of +4 percent. Employing a more stringent screen for likely voters (N=503) increases Romney’s lead to 54 percent to 41 percent and Allen’s lead to 51 percent to 39 percent. …

Romney now leads among men (52% – 39%), Republicans (95% – 4%), Conservatives (87% – 9%), and those aged 50-64 (55% – 37%), 65 or older (61% – 36%), and white voters (61% – 33%). Obama still holds strong leads among Democrats (94% – 2%), Liberals (89% – 8%), younger voters 18-34 years old (55% – 28%), and African-Americans (89% – 6%), but his lead among women has statistically disappeared (48% – 47%).

Romney leads among those who identify themselves as Independents (59% – 33%), but Obama leads among self-described political moderates by a similar margin (54% – 35%). More than half of Independents (52%) think of themselves as Moderate, while 34 percent are Conservative, and 9 percent are Liberal. A plurality of Moderates (42%) are Democrats, while slightly fewer (40%) are Independents, and only 14 percent are Republicans. A plurality of Independents (47%) are moderate, while one-third (35%) are conservative and only 13 percent are liberal. This helps to explain why Obama leads among Moderates but trails among Independents.

One interesting point from the crosstabs is the effect that the debates had on late deciders.  Romney led among those who had already made up their minds by the time of the debates, 51/46 over Obama.  For those who waited until after the debates, the split is a whopping eighteen points, 53/35 Romney.  That suggests that there were few people truly undecided in Virginia, since it doesn’t seem to have impacted the toplines, but that Obama lost the debate season in this key swing state by a wide margin.  That may play out more significantly in other swing states.

Romney wins significantly on the top issues.  On reducing unemployment, Romney gets a 12-point lead, 53/41, and on the deficit it’s even wider at 55/36.  Romney gets an edge on Obama on taxes at 48/44, but Obama gets a five-point lead on foreign policy.  Overall, though, Romney wins the “strongest leader” question by four, 48/44.

The sample split in this case isn’t terribly favorable to Romney, either.  The D/R/I is 35/31/30, which compares to 39/33/27 in 2008, and 33/37/30 in 2009.  This also seems to undersample Republicans in relation to the last two elections.  We’ll see whether this model pans out, but don’t be surprised to see something closer to 2009 than 2008.

Update: I had an error in my first sentence. Romney led independents by 21 in the CBS/NYT/Q-poll, not six; I was looking at Ohio from my previous post.  I’ve fixed it above.