President Obama continues to hold a clear lead over Mitt Romney in Virginia, a new Washington Post poll shows, buoyed by enthusiastic support rivaling what he marshaled in 2008 to snap the Democrats’ four-decade losing streak in the state.
Likely voters in the commonwealth favor Obama 52 percent to 44 percent. Among all voters, the president is up 50 percent to 43 percent, identical to his margin in a survey in early May.
Obama’s steady lead suggests that an unprecedented barrage of TV ads and dozens of in-person visits have yet to change the bottom line in the key battleground state.
In a place that rode out the recession with relative ease thanks to a huge defense sector, voters are split about evenly on Obama’s handling of the economy. That’s a more positive view than the president gets on the economy nationally.
But Romney runs evenly with Obama when it comes to whom voters trust to deal with the economy, which most Virginians, like all Americans, consider to be the most important issue.
“I think he’s actually making some progress, albeit slow, in terms of . . . moving our economy forward,” said Henry F. Robinson of Reston, a 64-year-old recruiting manager for government contractors. “I think he is protective and is concerned about the middle class, and I think that’s where the focus needs to be.”
The parity on the economy underlines a lingering vulnerability for Obama, particularly as looming defense cutsthreaten the industry and the state’s economy as a whole.
“I’m leaning Republican for the first time in my life,” said Joe Bergin, 38-year-old defense contractor from Ashburn. “Obama, he’s not really favoring government contractors right now. It definitely drives me in the direction of Romney right now. . . . I’m primarily concerned about my livelihood.”
Even some Obama supporters would like him to try something new on the economy.
“I think he needs to have a stronger economic program in the second term and he may need a different set of advisers, but I think he has the right idea,” said Robert E. Brogan of Falls Church, a 61-year-old safety analyst for the U.S. Department of Transportation. “He needs some cooperation from the other side in terms of spending cuts and tax increases.”
Obama beats Romney on six of 10 issues tested in the new poll, with Romney holding significant advantages on none. The president enjoys double-digit advantages over his Republican rival on subjects such as abortion, gay marriage and Medicaid. But those issues are far down the list of priorities for most voters, whose top concern is the economy.
“I don’t have any issues with gay marriage or pro-choice. Who you fall in love with is not somebody else’s business,” said Tom McIntosh, a 40-year-old budget analyst from Springfield and a Republican. He voted for Obama last time, but intends to vote for Romney for reasons of tax policy.
“Those [social] issues are not a big topic for me,” he said.
Obama has overwhelming support among young voters in the poll and near-universal backing from black voters, reassembling two key components of his winning coalition from four years ago.