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Nye Says He's Competitive With Drake

Tim Craig

Glenn Nye, a Democrat running in the 2nd Congressional District, released an internal poll today that shows he's well positioned to unseat incumbent Thelma Drake (R-Va) this year, especially if Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) is his party's nominee for president.

In the survey by the firm of Bennett, Petts & Normington, only 40 percent of voters say they want to reelect Drake. In a head to head match up, Nye gets 32 percent of the vote, compared to Drake's 48 percent. But the polling memo notes that only 9 percent of voters can currently recognize Nye's name.

The poll assumes African-Americans will make up about 10 percent of the electorate, which is traditional in the 2nd District, according to the polling memo.

But the memo states black turnout could be much higher with Obama at the top of the ticket, likely benefiting Nye because African-Americans historically support Democrats. The memo claims Nye, a career diplomat, could also increase his showing against Drake if there is surge of voters younger than 45 who turnout to support Obama.

The poll, which was taken May 6 to 8, also found that Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) has a 51 percent approval rating in the 2nd District, which includes Virginia Beach and other sections of Hampton Roads. In the U.S. Senate race, Democrat Mark Warner defeats Republican James S. Gilmore III by 25 percent in the 2nd.

The Drake campaign did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment. It's unusual for candidates to release their internal polls to the media, unless they are trying to generate momentum or donations to their campaign. It's also impossible to independently verify the veracity of the poll, but Kaine's approval rating appears to be in line with the results of other public polls.

In 2006, national Democrats heavily targeted Drake, but she defeated Democrat Phil Kellam by about 5,000 votes.

Because there is usually a high turnout among Republican-leaning military voters in the 2nd District in a presidential election year, many observers believe Drake is a strong position to win reelection again this year. But Virginia Beach was the site of one of the largest political rallies in Virginia history in February when Obama attracted 18,000 people to the city's convention center.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has announced it plans to once again target Drake this year. As of March 31, Nye had $222,000 in the bank, compared to Drake's $594,000.

By Tim Craig  |  May 15, 2008; 4:40 PM ET
Categories:  Election 2008/Congress , Tim Craig  
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