Back in early February there were some signs of movement in the polls in Virginia which were troubling to the GOP. Barack Obama carried the Old Dominion in 2008, but over the first two years of his presidency, his numbers had effectively tanked. But riding a wave of good headlines, it looked like he could be mounting a comeback of sorts at that time. A snapshot like that can always be an outlier, though, so more data was needed.
Two polls in the past five days – neither from sources with generally suspect sample rates – look like the poor news could be morphing into a trend. Quinnipiac (the same source as the February poll) has Obama leading Romney 50-42 with a 51% approval rating. Then, as we moved toward the weekend, Rasmussen (never shy about giving Republicans their fair cut in surveys) put the President’s favorability in Virginia at the 50% mark with a nearly identical 51-42 lead over Mitt.
Doug Mataconis sees trouble brewing, but far from inevitable.
Interestingly enough it doesn’t appear that Rasmussen even bother polling Santorum v. Obama in the Old Dominion. There’s still seven months to go, of course, and anything can happen but if this holds up the GOP is going to have a big problem to contend with in a state that it cannot afford to lose and in which the Obama campaign is already on the ground organizing. This isn’t an automatic win for Obama either, of course, and the numbers are likely to tighten when the General Election race actually starts.
We can’t lose sight of the fact that it’s not even April yet and conditions on the ground will continue to ripen. Those of us who have run campaigns will attest that seven weeks is forever in an election. Seven months is enough time for an intelligent species of poodles to rise up and take over the planet. But still, it’s always more helpful to look at the trend lines than any single snapshot, and in Virginia the numbers are currently going the wrong way.