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Texas Gov. George W. Bush's advantage over Arizona Sen. John McCain is half what it was three months ago among Virginians, according to a statewide poll conducted recently by the Old Dominion University Social Science Research Center and The Virginian-Pilot.

Bush, who held a 65-percent to 14-percent margin over McCain in a similar poll in November, still leads in the current poll, but by a slimmer 54- to 31-percent margin, said researcher Stephen K. Medvic, an assistant professor of political science and geography at Old Dominion.

The poll, conducted Feb. 3-10, drew upon responses from 840 registered voters in Virginia age 18 or older.
McCain is doing well among better-educated Virginians leading up to Virginia's Feb. 29 Republican presidential primary, according to the results.

McCain is in a statistical tie with Bush statewide among those with college and graduate/professional degrees, though he leads 42 to 39.3 percent. Among those with some college education or less, Bush holds a commanding lead, 66.2 percent to 20.7 percent. Bush also leads by a wide margin among women.

McCain leads Bush among Independents (including those who say they are independent but "lean" toward one of the two main parties) by a margin of 36.7 percent to 17 percent. Virginia's GOP primary is open, meaning Independents and Democrats can vote in it as long as they sign a pledge not to participate in another party's nomination process.

But Bush leads McCain statewide among those who say they are supporting their candidate based on honesty, leadership abilities, experience or background, position on taxes or simply because they "like him best."

McCain leads Bush among those who cite the candidates' intelligence and who say they are backing a candidate based on his position on military/defense policy.

Results from statewide analyses have a sampling error of +/-3.4 percent at the 95 percent confidence level (though individual survey responses may have lower sampling errors).

This means that in 95 out of 100 samples, the results on any given question would fall within plus or minus 3.4 percentage points of the results from this survey.

In hypothetical general-election match-ups, McCain leads Vice President Al Gore by a slightly larger margin than Bush, though the difference is within the margin of error. McCain is ahead of Gore by a 56-percent to 33-percent margin, while Bush leads Gore 54 percent to 37 percent.

Against Gore, McCain runs stronger among Independents than does Bush. McCain pulls 62 percent of those calling themselves Independents (including "leaners"), while Bush gets 52 percent.

In the Virginia U.S. Senate race between former Gov. George Allen and Sen. Chuck Robb, Allen lead by a 45.8-percent to 32.7-percent margin.

This article was posted on: February 17, 2000

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