McCain up 9 in Virginia -- among registered voters

This sounds more like an outlier on first blush, but other data from the same poll suggests otherwise.  the Virginian-Pilot shows John McCain with a substantial lead over Barack Obama in the state of Virginia among registered voters, a sampling that would otherwise favor Democrats.  And it does, as the Senate race shows:

Republican presidential nominee John McCain has opened a clear lead over Democrat Barack Obama among Virginia voters in the race for the White House, according to a new statewide poll.

The survey, taken last week for the Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, found McCain with the support of 48 percent of state voters, compared with 39 percent for Obama. Just under 13 percent were undecided.

The poll also showed Democrat Mark Warner is maintaining a huge advantage, 54 percent to 30 percent, over Republican Jim Gilmore in the state’s U.S. Senate contest. Warner leads Gilmore among virtually all voter groups, the survey indicates, even claiming the support of nearly one in four Republicans.

The poll sampled 500 registered voters and has a margin of error of 4%.  That puts both McCain and Warner ahead, the latter comfortably so.  No one thought Jim Gilmore would present a formidable obstacle to the very popular Democratic former governor, but I doubt anyone thought he’d fail to garner a third of the vote.  That number seems very low, even for a state that has elected more Democrats than Republicans to statewide office over the last few years.

That result tends to underscore the significance of the McCain/Obama polling.  If Gilmore couldn’t get more than 30% in his matchup, that makes Obama’s failure to clear 40% even more significant.  It means that 30% of people voting for Warner do not plan to vote for Obama, a rather stunning rejection in a state Obama hoped to make competitive.

Virginia would be a hold for McCain, so the good news is limited to a potential sigh of relief.  For Obama, that was one of the few states he thought he could reasonably flip from red to blue.  To have a nine-point gap after spending so much time, effort, and money on this state has to be frustrating.  To have that kind of a gap among registered voters, and that kind of rejection from Warner’s supporters, has to be making Democrats very, very nervous.