The Northern Virginia Daily's Political Depot

A service for our readers outside the Northern Shenandoah Valley... a sampling of The Daily's political coverage, plus unofficial, 'reporter's notebook' stuff. And occasional dry humor...

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Location: Strasburg, Virginia

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Race for governor in new polls: Dead heat; A1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

Too close to call. Within the margin of error. Neck and neck.

Two new polls released within hours of each other overnight Monday and the latest round of financial statements from the two leading gubernatorial candidates paint the race to Richmond as anybody’s game.

In a poll conducted by SurveyUSA for WSLS-TV in Roanoke and WUSA-TV in Washington, Democratic nominee Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine leads Republican former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore by 2 points, 47 percent to 45 percent, with 2 percent undecided.

Independent candidate state Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr., R-Winchester, polled at 4 percent, while 2 percent said they’d vote for “some other candidate.” Kaine, Kilgore and Potts are the only three candidates on the ballot.

That’s still within the poll’s margin of error, plus or minus 3.7 percent.

A second poll, conducted for the online political briefing “Hotline,” found an identical lead for Kaine, but with different numbers, 40 percent to 38 percent, with 5 percent for Potts and 18 percent undecided.

When the sample of 500 registered voters was sifted further to 435 likely voters, Kaine’s margin narrowed to 1 percent.

Further refined to 321 voters who said they were “extremely likely” to vote on Nov. 8, Kilgore comes out on top by 1 percent.

All three results, though, are well within the margin of error of 4.4 percent.

Camp Kaine wasted no time alerting supporters and the media to the results, sending out e-mails and issuing statements pointing to the polls as proof that Kilgore’s latest round of ads focusing on the death penalty weren’t having the intended effect.

“The [Hotline] poll, conducted October 13-16, is the second public poll in as many days to show that Jerry Kilgore’s slash-and-burn campaign ads have backfired on him,” Kaine Press Secretary Delacey Skinner wrote in an e-mail to reporters.

“More than anything, this poll confirms what we’ve known all along, that this is going to be an extremely close race,” she said.

Not so, says the Kilgore camp.

“We feel like in the past two weeks we’ve picked up some tremendous endorsements, the [National Rifle Association] and the Fairfax [County] Chamber of Commerce. We feel like the momentum in this campaign is on our side,” said Kilgore spokesman Tucker Martin.

“The only polls that we talk about are the ones that close at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8,” he said.

On the money front, the race looks just as close.

Kaine finished the month with a tick less than $5.2 million in the bank on $14.5 million in donations. Kilgore’s numbers are almost identical, ending the cycle with just more than $5.2 million in the bank on $14.6 million in donations.

Potts, still a distant third, broke the $1 million mark, bringing in $241,000. Some $185,000 of that total came from just three donations: $100,000 from John T. Hazel of Manassas, $50,000 from William A. Hazel of Chantilly and $35,000 from a state-level transportation and construction political action committee.

Media buys were the most significant purchases for all three campaigns in September.

Potts and company paid Minnesota’s North Woods Advertising, the brains behind Jesse Ventura’s unconventional gubernatorial ad campaign and the “We Want Potts” ad series, a total of $217,489, the lion’s share of the $355,000 the campaign spent in September.

But that’s pocket change compared to the $1.9 million the Kaine campaign paid to Media Strategies and Research in September.

The Kilgore camp eclipsed all comers, though, writing more than $2.6 million in checks to Scott Howell and Company, the
campaign’s media firm.

The campaigns have to file another report covering the first two weeks of October by the end of the month.

Election Day is Nov. 8.