Poll shows dead heat in top GOP target House race 

Rep. Tom Perriello, widely considered the most vulnerable of Virginia’s three freshman Democratic congressmen, stands neck and neck with the frontrunner Republican seeking the 5th District seat, according to a new survey from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.

The district, a politically-disputed swath of south and central Virginia that runs from Danville to Charlottesville, elected Perriello in a upset victory over Rep. Virgil Goode in the 2008 Democratic sweep. The PPP poll shows both Perriello and President Obama now have upside-down job approval, with 46 percent of voters disapproving of the congressman and 42 percent approving. Only a third of voters back the House Democrats’ health care overhaul, which Perriello supported

State Sen. Robert Hurt, one of several Republicans seeking the nomination, is known by only 30 percent of voters but is still tied in a match-up with the Democrat at 44 percent each. For Perriello “to be in this position this far out against an opponent who most voters don’t yet know, I think bode incredibly poorly for him,” said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Andy Sere.

Democrats suggested the poll illustrates to the intra-party tension between Hurt and tea-party challengers to his right. Said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Jesse Ferguson: “This poll proves that even the candidate national Republicans think is strongest isn’t able to beat Rep. Perriello and their party continues to face an internal civil war.

The PPP poll surveyed 924 registered voters. The margin of error is 3.2 percent.

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William C. Flook

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