Mitt Romney has wiped out President Barack Obama's lead in Virginia, and the two candidates are locked in a neck-and-neck race in that pivotal battleground state, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.
The survey tells the tale of steady erosion of support for Obama: He and Romney now each get 44 percent of the registered voters queried, but he was up 47-42 percent on June 7 and 50-42 percent on March 20.
The survey, which has an error margin of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points, came as the Labor Department reported that weekly jobless claims had jumped 34,000 to 386,000. Reuters described the figure as pushing the number of filings for unemployment benefits "back to levels consistent with modest job growth after a seasonal quirk caused a sharp drop the prior period."
Romney bests Obama 47 percent to 44 percent on the question of who would do a better job on the economy, according to Quinnipiac. But the president's call to raise taxes on income above $250,000 per year enjoyed robust support: 59 percent in favor and 36 percent against.
"Support is strong among all income groups — except voters in households making more than $250,000 per year, where 48 percent support the idea and 51 percent oppose it," Quinnipiac said.
The poll found independent voters split 40 percent for Obama and 38 percent for Romney. "The president leads 46—41 percent among women while Romney wins with men 46—42 percent. White voters go to Romney 55—33 percent while black voters back Obama 88—1 percent," Quinnipiac said.
Quinnipiac also found that Virginia's Senate race is too close to call, with Republican George Allen up 46 percent to 44 percent for Democrat Tim Kaine.
"But neither man is exactly Mr. Popularity: Romney has a negative 39—42 percent favorability, compared to Obama's divided 46—48 percent. One of them is going to win the White House, but neither would get elected Prom King," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.