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McDonnell Pulls Away in Va. Gov. Race; Tie in N.J.

With 2009's Election Day just two weeks away, two state gubernatorial races are going down to the wire. Three new polls were released on the races today, showing a clear frontrunner in the upcoming Virginia election and a neck-and-neck race in New Jersey.

One poll, conducted by Clarus Research Group, shows that Virginians favor Republican candidate Bob McDonnell over his Democratic opponent, Creigh Deeds, by an eight point margin. McDonnell, who holds 49 percent of voters in the poll to Deeds' 41 percent, is up from 42 points in September (when he led Deeds by five points).

"So far in the general election, Deeds has failed to gain sustained momentum," said Ron Faucheux, president of Clarus. "Over the past five weeks, McDonnell has expanded his lead as he's weathered attacks on his record as a social conservative… While anything can happen between now and Election Day, the fundamentals favor McDonnell."

The poll results also showed that voters' primary reason for voting for Deeds is his political party, while McDonnell's supporters will vote for him primarily because they like him personally.

A different poll gives McDonnell a greater lead. The Judy Ford Watson Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University released a poll that reflects a double digit margin between McDonnell and Deeds, reports the Virginia-Pilot. McDonnell has 45 percent in the poll and Deeds has 31 percent, with 22 percent undecided. The survey points out that most of the undecided voters were Democrats and independents.

"Deeds is behind because he hasn't sold himself to his own party and he hasn't sold himself to independents" Quentin Kidd, the center's director, told the paper.

The survey also found that McDonnell's 1989 graduate school thesis, which criticized working women and homosexuality, has not affected most voters' view of him. (McDonnell has said he has since changed several of the views expressed within the thesis.)

In contrast to Virginia, the race in New Jersey continues to be tight, according to a newly-released Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey poll. Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine and Republican challenger Chris Christie are tied with 39 percent each, with independent Chris Daggett at 14 percent.

Both Christie and Corzine are largely maintaining support within their own parties according to the poll: 81 percent of likely Republican voters in New Jersey favor Christie, and 76 percent of likely Democrats prefer Corzine. Corzine's position has increased in part because Democratic supporters of Christie have decreased by more than half since August, dropping from 17 to eight percent.

"Democrats who flirted with Chris Christie earlier in the year have come back into the fold. It also looks like some GOP voters may have become disenchanted with their white knight. That's not a good sign for the Republican at this late stage of the game," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

More on the N.J. Campaign:

By the Numbers: Election Trends and Demographics
Video: The Campaign So Far

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