Friday, August 05, 2005
Poll puts Jerry Kilgore in the lead in governor's race
The survey was done differently from a survey commissioned last month by The Roanoke Times and other state newspapers that had Tim Kaine ahead.
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From The Roanoke Times
But, so far, the survey results suggest that the contest has yet to take shape. A poll released Thursday by Rasmussen Reports has Republican nominee Jerry Kilgore leading Democrat Tim Kaine by 6 percentage points, 45 to 39. The survey did not include independent candidate Russ Potts, a state senator from Winchester. But 5 percent of the poll's participants indicated support for "some other candidate," according to results posted on the Rasmussen Reports' Web site Thursday.
The telephone survey of 500 likely Virginia voters was conducted Wednesday. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
The Rasmussen poll differs from a survey commissioned last month by The Roanoke Times and other state newspapers. That poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, showed Kaine with a statistically insignificant lead of 1 percentage point over Kilgore - 38 to 37. Potts, who was identified in the Mason-Dixon poll, ran third at 9 percent. The remaining 16 percent were undecided.
Mason-Dixon surveyed 625 registered voters between July 19 and July 21. Its survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Both surveys had samples that reflect the state's population distribution. But the two firms used different methods to get their results. The Rasmussen poll uses an automated process in which a single, digitally recorded voice poses questions. Mason-Dixon relies on staffed phone banks to conduct its interviews.
University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato said there is a "raging debate" among election analysts about the accuracy of automated telephone polls. Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said the automated polls do not have enough of a track record for him to pass judgment.
Sabato said he has found Mason-Dixon's polling reliable. The Washington, D.C.-based firm has polled in every Virginia governor's race since 1985.
"Mason-Dixon's long-term record in Virginia and elsewhere is very good," Sabato said.
The recent Mason-Dixon survey marked the first time this year it has polled in the Virginia governor's race. Rasmussen Reports, based in New Jersey, conducted a July poll that had Kilgore ahead by 6 points and an April survey that had Kilgore leading by 8 points.
Kilgore spokesman Tim Murtaugh said the Rasmussen results resemble the campaign's internal surveys. He also noted that Rasmussen surveys in last year's presidential election provided accurate barometers of the outcome in key battleground states.
But, Murtaugh said, "We're taking nothing for granted. We're running as if we're 10 points behind."
Kaine spokeswoman Delacey Skinner was unmoved by the Rasmussen survey, saying, "We generally don't put a lot of stock in any of the polls."
"Some of them are going to show us up, and some of them are going to show us down," Skinner said.
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