Republicans need to gain 40 seats in November’s midterm elections to win control of the House of Representatives. Ten percent of that goal is in Virginia, where targeted incumbent Democrats Rick Boucher (VA-9), Gerry Connolly (VA-11), Glenn Nye (VA-2) and Tom Perriello (VA-5) are being challenged by House of Delegates Majority Leader Morgan Griffith, Keith Fimian, Scott Rigell and Virginia Senator Robert Hurt, respectively. Connolly, Nye and Perriello all are freshmen and Perriello may be the number one GOP target in the entire country given his razor thin victory in 2008 and the 5th’s generally conservative leanings (Charlottesville Daily Progress). Perhaps no House win pleased liberals more.
Now, according to a poll released yesterday by SurveyUSA for Roanoke television station WDBJ, Representative Perriello may be toast (see American Prospect’s Tapped Blog and the Washington Post’s Virginia Politics Blog). It shows the 5th to be a blowout already: Hurt up by a 58-35 margin (see National Review Online’s Campaign Spot Blog).
While many GOP House candidates are polling well, few have the numbers that elicited a “WOW” from NRO’s Jim Geraghty. Of course, polls this early can mean anything and the pros will say SurveyUSA is not a top tier pollster on the lines of Mason-Dixon or Rasmussen Reports. But, SurveyUSA was the first to poll Virginia last summer (51 weeks ago, to be exact) and it had all three statewide races right from the beginning to the very end, including double digit leads when all the more “reputable” polls showed it closer. In fact, one political pro told me the SurveyUSA results were “embarrassing,” but the only people embarrassed last November were the doubters and the Democrats.
The numbers are even more astounding considering a hard fought Republican primary, a Libertarian candidate and some TEA Party dissatisfaction with Senator Hurt. (SurveyUSA breaks down its research here.) It admits it has factored Republican turnout to be much greater than Democrat turnout (not surprising since when comparing the U.Va. student drop-of from 2008, where Perriello benefited from a large Barack Obama student turnout, to 2009). However, SurveyUSA says even if it factors in a 50-50 Republican-Democrat turnout, Hurt still wins by 11 points. At this point. (Which would allow the GOP to focus on the other three seats.) But, if the trend holds, it’s a remarkable sign for House Republicans — and one down and 39 to go.