Rep. Paul Ryan may have made his official debut as Mitt Romney's running mate in Virginia, but he has not yet made a big impression on Virginia voters, according to a new poll.
President Obama continues to lead Mitt Romney in a new poll from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, 50 percent to 45 percent. Six weeks ago, Obama led another PPP poll of Virginia, 50 percent to 42 percent.
Ryan's entrance into the race made a big splash in his home state of Wisconsin, where PPP saw a solid uptick in support for the Romney-Ryan ticket. But there was no such luck for Republicans in Virginia, a state where Obama's approval rating is positive -- 49 percent approve of his job performance compared with 46 percent who disapprove.
"President Obama has consistently led by five or more points in Virginia, and it may prove to be his firewall," said Dean Debnam, president of PPP, in a release. "Romney essentially cannot win without it."
The PollTracker Average of the presidential race in Virginia shows the president with a 2-point lead.
Virginia's new swing-state status is driven by the influx of new residents, something PPP pointed to in its analysis:
The key to the emergence of Virginia as a blue-leaning swing state in recent cycles is that it is no longer the Old Dominion -- about half of the likely electorate was born in another state, making it a considerably more non-native state than its southern neighbor North Carolina (38%). And unlike the Tar Heel State, where Romney enjoys a double-digit advantage with those born there, Obama leads by an identical margin with both natives and immigrants to Virginia. Like in N.C., however, Obama has two-thirds of the vote with the 12% who have moved to Virginia in the last decade, and a 56-38 lead with the 49% who moved here within the last 30 years.
As in most states, there is a huge age gap, with Obama up 63-35 with those under 30 and 52-40 among those aged 30 to 45, but Romney leading 54-41 with seniors. Obama is also bolstered by strong leads with his other most important voting blocs -- women (55-41), African Americans (88-11), and other minorities (56-32).
There's at least one piece of good news for Romney in the poll: His favorability rating has picked up, to 46 percent favorable/49 percent unfavorable, a major improvement. In PPP's July poll of the state, Romney's favorability was at 38 percent favorable/51 percent unfavorable.
The PPP poll used 855 automated interviews with likely Virginia voters by landline (automated surveys cannot call cell phones) conducted Aug. 16-19. It has a sampling error of 3.4 percent.