Women give Obama lead in Virginia

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Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno

Most Virginians have made up their minds about the presidential election and, right now, they're picking President Obama, a new poll shows.

A Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News survey of the Old Dominion's likely voters released Wednesday shows Obama with 49 percent and Republican Mitt Romney with 45 percent. Less than three months before the Nov. 6 election, nine of every 10 Virginians said they've already decided how they'll cast their ballots.

Pollsters believe at least some voters will change their minds, but the campaigns have noticed there aren't many voters left to woo.

"I do believe that we're looking at far fewer undecideds this early in the game than we have in many, many years," said Pete Snyder, chairman of the Republicans' 2012 Virginia Victory campaign.

A gender gap is a major reason Obama leads. Obama tops Romney 54 percent to 40 percent among women, twice the lead he had in 2008 when exit polls showed Virginia women backing Obama over Republican John McCain 53 percent to 46 percent.

But Romney holds a 5 percentage-point lead over Obama among men, a group Obama won in 2008 on his way to a historic victory in Virginia. Romney is also ahead among independent voters, another critical bloc for Obama four years ago. Independents now favor Romney 50 percent to 43 percent after going narrowly for Obama in 2008, a turn that Republicans said is evidence that Obama is running on a much more partisan agenda this time around.

"For a guy who ran in 2008 as being the great unifier, he's now the great divider," Snyder said.

Obama's efforts to court female voters by focusing part of this campaign on women's health may have shored up his support with Democrats, but it has not helped as much with independents. Independent women are evenly split between Obama and Romney in Virginia.

Still, the overall results are encouraging for Obama, who leads Romney in five other swing states Quinnipiac pollsters have surveyed since Aug. 1.

"Polls may go up and down," said Caroline Behringer, spokeswoman for Obama's Virginia campaign. "But one thing we see consistently is that the more people learn about Mitt Romney, the more they realize that he is out of touch with middle-class Virginians and would take us back to the same failed policies that caused the economic mess in the first place."

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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