The new survey of the Virginia gubernatorial race by Public Policy Polling (D) suggests that Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds could be seriously catching up with Republican Bob McDonnell, as Democrats become more motivated and McDonnell takes heat over his controversial right-wing law school thesis.
In the top-line, McDonnell still leads with 49% to Deeds' 42%. However, this is a big shift from the 51%-37% McDonnell lead from a month ago. There has been a significant shift in the make-up of the likely voter pool: A month ago, respondents had voted for McCain by a 52%-41% margin, while the new pool is at McCain 49%-45%. This is still a long way from the actual result last fall, when Obama carried the state 53%-47%.
One big change, according to PPP communications director Tom Jensen, is that the likely voter pool shifted from 37% Democratic to 47% Democratic in the days of sampling after the story broke about McDonnell's thesis, and Deeds then led by eight points in that sample within the sample. However, the margin of error in the post-thesis sample is Â±10.8%, and Jensen told me we'll need more post-thesis polling to really see whether this is a fluke, or a real sign of Democrats becoming energized.