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Virginia's Regional Divide on the Issues

Northern Virginians express sharply diverging views from voters in the rest of the Commonwealth in the upcoming gubernatorial race, according to the latest Washington Post poll, with most in northern Virginia supporting Democratic nominee R. Creigh Deeds and most elsewhere in Republican Robert F. McDonnell's camp.

A closer look at the crosstabs from the poll, conducted last week, reveals a rift that extends from the cultural issues raised by McDonnell's graduate school thesis to top-tier political touchstones like the economy and transportation.

Overall, Northern Virginians (who make up 27 percent of the likely electorate in the poll) break 57 to 40 percent in Deeds's favor, while those in the rest of state split for McDonnell 55 to 44 percent.

A majority of likely voters (54 percent) in Northern Virginia say Deeds's views on most issues are ideologically "about right," while more than a third (36 percent) describe him as "too liberal." In the other parts of the state, 44 percent see him as too liberal, with the same percentage seeing him as about right.

Northern Virginians are more apt to consider McDonnell "too conservative" than those elsewhere in the state (54 percent vs. 35 percent). Outside of Northern Virginia, a slim majority (51 percent) considers the Republican's views about right.

Voters in these two areas also rank issues differently. While the economy is the dominant issue for those in the southern and western parts of the state (30 percent call it their top concern), among Northern Virginians, the economy (21 percent) and transportation (15 percent) both rate as primary concerns for large blocs of voters. (Transportation is cited as the top issue by just 4 percent in the lower part of the state.) Taxes (10 percent) are the only other issue to reach double digits among Northern Virginians, for those in the rest of the state, education and health care both hit that marker.

Assessing the candidates on individual issues, Northern Virginians give Deeds a broad advantage nearly across the board, though they split about evenly between the two men on taxes (these data collected prior to Deeds's Washington Post op-ed in which he said he would sign a bill that includes new taxes to cover a transportation overhaul.) Voters elsewhere in the state give McDonnell wide margins on taxes, the state budget, guns, the economy, transportation and abortion, and are more narrowly divided on education, health care and issues of special concern to women.

Northern Virginians also give Deeds a big lead as the candidate who more closely shares their values, would be a more effective leader and as the more empathetic. McDonnell has similar advantages elsewhere in the state on effectiveness and shared values.

Each candidate also has vulnerabilities.

While Deeds holds a 27-point margin among Northern Virginia voters as the more honest and trustworthy candidate, big numbers say both (17 percent) or neither (18 percent) wins that title. For McDonnell, he runs only about evenly with Deeds as the more empathetic candidate among those outside Northern Virginia.

Q. Regardless of how you may vote, whom do you trust to do a better job handling... (All data among likely voters)

                         Northern VA        Rest of state
                       Deeds   McDonnell   Deeds   McDonnell   
Issues of special
 concern to women       59 (+31)   28       44 (+ 3)   41
The abortion issue      59 (+28)   31       38         46 (+ 8)
Education               58 (+24)   34       44         46 (+ 2)
Health care             55 (+19)   36       44         45 (+ 1)
Transportation issues   49 (+13)   36       34         50 (+16)
The economy and jobs    52 (+12)   40       40         51 (+11)
Gun control             45 (+ 7)   38       32         51 (+19)
The state budget        45 (+ 6)   39       38         53 (+15)
Taxes                   45 (Evn)   45       37         52 (+15)

Q. Regardless of how you may vote, do you think Deeds or McDonnell... (All data among likely voters)

                         Northern VA        Rest of state
                       Deeds   McDonnell   Deeds   McDonnell   
Is more honest and
 trustworthy            46 (+27)   19       32         45 (+13)
More closely shares
 your values            57 (+21)   36       38         56 (+18)
Would be a more
 effective leader       52 (+13)   39       43         54 (+11)
Better understands
 the problems of
 people like you        52 (+11)   41       43         46 (+ 3)

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  September 29, 2009; 3:10 PM ET
Categories:  Congress , Virginia  
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Comments

Stop interrupting my music and tv Deeds! I know plenty from you about Mcdonnell but I know nothing about your other than your poopy mouth constantly interrutpting me. Being an independent woman, you have crossed that line of not knowing When To STOP.

Posted by: JuliaWong | September 30, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

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