Q-Poll: Obama rebounding in Virginia?

A new poll from Quinnipiac University holds some news which may give Republicans pause while mapping out their fall strategy and it comes from Virginia. For the first time in this series for the 2012 election, President Barack Obama has pulled back into the lead at or outside the margin of error over all four of the remaining GOP contenders, including Mitt Romney, who had been leading Obama in the Old Dominion State up until now. The Hill breaks it down.

A new poll shows President Obama pulling ahead of Mitt Romney in the key state of Virginia.

Obama wins the support of 47 percent of registered voters surveyed to Romney’s 43 percent, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

The survey marks a turnaround for the president. A December 21 poll by Quinnipiac showed Romney edging Obama 44 percent to 42 percent.

“For the first time since Quinnipiac University began polling Virginia voters on the race, President Barack Obama holds a razor-thin lead over Gov. Mitt Romney,” said Quinnipiac University Polling Institute Assistant Director Peter A. Brown in a release.

In addition to Romney, Obama leads Ron Paul 47-40, Santorum 49-41 and Newt by 51-37.

Until Obama carried the state in 2008, Virginia had been fairly solid in the pocket of the GOP for a while, with George W. Bush carrying the vote by significant margins in both 2000 and 2004, and even Bob Dole squeezing out a win over Bill Clinton in 96. (Significant still since Ross Perot took over six percent of the vote that year.) If any of Obama’s surprise 2008 wins are going to be flipped back to the Red column this year, Virginia was certainly a top contender.

Theories are already being floated as to what is driving the change, focusing largely on an increasing voter perception that the economy is beginning to turn around and improve. Two factors seem to be driving the most notable shifts giving Obama an edge, including an increase in support from independents, leading Romney there by a 45-41 margin. But the most worrisome factor, as Taegan Goddard notes, is that Obama is winning the battle with women voters over Mitt by a staggering 52-40.

As usual, though, the race has to ripen considerably more before these numbers can be seen as solid. The poll was done before Santorum’s Tuesday night, three state sweep, and his name recognition in Virginia is still the lowest of the four possible nominees.(In this poll, fully 1/3 of Virginia voters don’t know enough about Santorum to make up their minds.) He also hasn’t received the same level of vetting as the other three yet, so Virginians will have plenty of time to learn more and make up their minds if he winds up becoming the main non-Mitt candidate.

The polling for the head to head match-ups sampled 1,544 registered voters (not likely) which is not ideal, but still better than a survey of all adults, and Quinnipiac has developed a fairly solid reputation. The D/R/I breakdown has not yet been provided. The related primary poll (which shows Romney crushing Ron Paul 68-19 with neither Newt nor Rick Santorum on the ballot) was among 546 likely Republican voters.