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GOP poll gives Hurt 6-point edge over Perriello

Ben Pershing

Rep. Tom Perriello (D) trails state Sen. Robert Hurt (R) by 6 points in their closely watched 5th district race, according to a recent poll taken by a Republican-leaning group.

American Action Forum, a group formed earlier this year to promote conservative ideas and candidates, commissioned a series of polls of East Coast congressional districts -- including the Perriello-Hurt contest -- by the firm Ayres McHenry & Associates. Their survey, taken at the end of July, gave Hurt a 49 percent to 43 percent lead among likely voters.

"Our polling ... shows a competitive contest in the district," the pollsters wrote in a memo on their results, adding that Hurt has a narrow lead despite the fact that Perriello has higher name identification.

The pollsters also report that Perriello's vote in favor of President Obama's health-care plan "is his greatest tested weakness," and that Obama's rating in the district is 45 percent favorable, 50 percent unfavorable.

While the survey may look like bad news for the incumbent, it actually shows a much closer contest than the last publicly available numbers. A July poll taken by the firm SurveyUSA for WDBJ News in Roanoke gave Hurt a 23-point lead over Perriello, though the Democrat's campaign was highly critical of that survey's methodology.

The American Action Forum poll did not include independent candidate Jeffrey Clark, and was taken before a recent spate of stories in the local media on the "debate over debates" between Perriello and Hurt. Perriello has called for Clark to be included in their debates, while Hurt does not want to share a stage with the conservative-leaning independent.

Perriello and Clark appeared last week at a candidate forum in Albemarle County, while Hurt's chair was left vacant.

By Ben Pershing  |  August 17, 2010; 11:16 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Ben Pershing , Election 2010 , Robert Hurt , Tom Perriello  
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