After months of deadlock, a new poll says Democrat Tim Kaine is pulling ahead in Virginia's open U.S. Senate race.
A Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll released Wednesday is the first to show significant separation between Kaine and his Republican opponent George Allen, with Kaine garnering support from 51 percent of voters to Allen's 44.
Dozens of polls dating back to early last year have pegged the race as a statistical tie. In that regard, the Quinnipiac poll appears to be an outlier.
But analysts have also insisted for months that the Kaine-Allen contest likely hinges on the presidential race, and Wednesday's poll more closely mirrors that race. Quinnipiac pollsters put President Obama ahead of Republican challenger Mitt Romney 50 percent to 46 percent.
Previous Quinnipiac polls gave Allen the advantage with independents, but the latest poll shows Kaine and Allen more closely splitting that vote. Kaine has also closed a gap among male voters while maintaining a 15 percentage point lead with females.
Kaine and Allen will participate in the first of three scheduled debates Thursday in McLean. The two former governors are vying to replace Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., with the winner likely to determine which party controls the Senate.