Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) could face a race this cycle as close as the one he won in 2008, according to a Public Policy Polling survey conducted Feb. 5-10.
In the poll of 924 registered voters, Perriello and state Sen. Robert Hurt (R) each received 44 percent. National GOP officials prefer Hurt in a crowded primary field that includes several lesser-known candidates, all of whom trailed Perriello in the PPP survey.
PPP also tested former Rep. Virgil Goode (R), whom Perriello unseated two years ago by a margin of less than 1 point — and who has hinted he may run as an independent candidate if he thinks the eventual Republican nominee is insufficiently conservative. Despite his 2008 loss, Goode still is a popular figure in the district, and the PPP survey had Goode running even with Perriello as an independent candidate, with Hurt a distant third.
Perriello is running even with Hurt and Goode even though slightly more respondents disapprove of his and President Obama’s job performances than approve of them. Perriello voted for a Democratic-written health care reform bill that was opposed by 52 percent of those polled and supported by just 32 percent.
Voters in the 5th district, which takes in the Charlottesville area and the state’s Southside region, aren’t pleased with the track record of the two parties. Just 33 percent of respondents said they approved of the job of Congressional Democrats and 28 percent said the same of Congressional Republicans.
Perriello is well-funded — he had $874,000 cash-on-hand as January began. Hurt has raised more from individuals and political committees than any other Republican candidate, though Jim McKelvey and Laurence Verga have put substantial personal funds into their campaigns.