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Analysis: Kaine Pulls Ahead, Republicans Will Attack On Defense

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A poll of likely Virginia voters by Roanoke College shows Democrats with an apparent lead in Presidential and U.S. Senate races in the Commonwealth. The poll shows President Barack Obama with an 8-point lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney. In the U.S. Senate race, Democrat Tim Kaine has a 10-point lead over Republican George Allen. The poll has a margin of error of +-4 percentage points. Alex Bolton, senior staff writer with The Hill newspaper spoke with All Things Considered host Pat Brogan about the numbers.

What do we learn about the dynamics of the Virginia U.S. Senate race in this poll?

"Republicans say that this poll oversamples Democratic voters and wasn't accurate. But it's somewhat in line with recent polls we've seen from other outlets. There have been three polls that have come out in recent weeks that show Kaine is establishing a lead outside the margin of error. This lead ranges from 4 points to 7-8 points, depending on the outlet. So it looks like Kaine does have a lead, which is a change from what we've seen previously. WTOP just came out with a new poll of voters in Northern Virginia, showing that Kaine and Obama have leads in Northern Virginia. That's to be expected, because it's a more Democratic part of the state, but what's interesting is that WTOP's poll shows that Kaine's lead has increased since July."

What do you expect to see from campaigns in the last month?

"A lot of spending. Kaine announced today that he would be making a $3 million ad buy, and we can expect George Allen to be responding in kind. The argument is going to be over the economy and over President Obama. Allen is going to try and tie Kaine to Obama and try to blame Kaine for what he says are Obama's unfulfilled promises. Specifically, Obama promised to get the unemployment rate down, and that hasn't really happened, despite the expectations of Obama's senior advisers. What's hurting Allen to some extent is that the economy in Northern Virginia isn't so bad."

"The other thing that Allen is going to talk about  are defense cuts. Virginia has a heavy investment in the defense industry. He's going to make an argument that Kaine and Obama are hurting the defense industry, because he's going to blame the Democrats for beign responsible for these automatic spending cuts to the defense industry by the end of the year. Obama has tried to insulate himself. The administration has told contractors like Lockheed Martin that they will pay for the costs of keeping employees on staff as long as they don't issue layoff notices before the election, so Obama and Democrats are trying to neutralize Republicans on the defense issue."

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