George Allen’s Lead 18 Point Lead Evaporates

George Allen’s 18 point lead over Jim Webb has shrunk to 3 points in just one week, according to one poll.

In an election for the United States Senate in Virginia today, 8/21/06, incumbent Republican George Allen edges Democrat challenger James Webb 48% to 45%, according to an exclusive SurveyUSA poll conducted for W*USA-TV in Washington, DC. Since an identical SurveyUSA poll released 6/28/06, Allen has lost 8 points and Webb has gained 8 points. Allen’s lead has shrunk from 19 points to 3 points.

Interviewing for this poll began 8/18/06, one week after Allen singled out a Webb campaign worker at an Allen rally. Allen has lost support across all demographic groups, but in particular, among younger voters. He has gone from Plus 23 to Minus 17, a swing of 40 points. In Southeastern VA, Allen has gone from a 2:1 lead to a tie, a 31-point swing.

I’m more than a bit skeptical over the size of the drop, although other polls are also showing Allen’s lead narrowing. Despite a ridiculous amount of coverage and analysis of the “macaca” incident, though, it strikes me unlikely that the use of a word that no one had heard a week ago had this much resonance.

UPDATE: Steven Taylor argues that it’s not so much that “the ‘Macaca’ incident alone has done the damage” but that “it was the catalyst for a re-evaluation of Allen.” That strikes me as quite plausible.

FILED UNDER: 2006 Election, Public Opinion Polls, Race and Politics, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    What other explanation can there be? Webb hasn’t done anything in the past week to cause the tightening of the race. Only logical explanation is the macaca episode. Don’t forget the big prize in this race is Northern Virginia, and Asians are the fastest growing population in Fairfax, and Hispanics in Prince William. This isn’t surprising to me.

  2. James Joyner says:

    DCL: Agreed that it’s the only plausible issue. I’m mostly dubious about the 8 point swing each way. We’ll have a better idea after a couple more polls come out.

  3. Geek, Esq. says:

    It’s very possible that the 18-point lead was also an outlier.

  4. McGehee says:

    It’s very possible that the 18-point lead was also an outlier.

    Agreed. A one-week swing of this scale has to have more behind it than mere substance. 😉

  5. jukeboxgrad says:

    Allen did further damage to himself by the way he behaved afterwards (very lame alibis, and no personal apology).

  6. jukeboxgrad says:

    BTW, by “personal apology,” I mean an apology delivered directly to Sidarth, in person, in writing, or by phone. Statements via the press don’t quite cut it, especially since the insult was delivered in a very direct, personal manner.

  7. foston says:

    You know, I watched that video. And Im not big on PC stuff. But it was the way that George Allen said “welcome to America macaca or whatever your name is” that stuck me as particularily demeaning in an all or mostly white crowd. It was his tone. And it is NOT suprising to me that people would react to that. One might question when you saw it whether Mr. Allen thought that immigrant folks could have actually been BORN in VA…zomg.

    The dude got caught on youtube for God’s sake. What kind of moron openly demeans someone and expects not to be exposed on the net or in the blogs? Probably someone who thinks the internet is made of tubes…

    In any event, his tone was demeaning, and any of those good church ladies can see that. His apologists didnt help, they tried to say that he was referring to his haircut?? He said it TWICE, in the same demeaning tone. It was sorely stupid, and I expect that his lead will vanish all together for that stupid and demeaning remark.