Virginia: Tim Kaine Up 7 in New Poll

Tim Kaine (left) led in the latest Washington Post poll of the Virginia Senate race. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new poll from the Washington Post found that former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine led by 7 points in the open-seat Senate race.

The Democrat and fellow former Gov. George Allen (R) are battling in one of the most competitive contests of the cycle in a state that could go either way in the presidential race. And after a year of running even, polling results over the past six months have been as mixed as they once were steady.

However, the Post's polling has not changed over the past month. In the latest survey, Kaine led 51 percent to 44 percent, a nearly identical result from the Post's September poll.

Both enjoyed a net-positive favorable rating in this poll, though Kaine's was twice as large. Kaine garnered ratings of 55 percent favorable and 33 percent unfavorable to Allen's 48 percent favorable and 37 percent unfavorable. The Post reported that the two candidates are "essentially tied" among independents.

Kaine is now running ahead of President Barack Obama, thanks in part to Kaine's support from 9 percent of the Republican voters polled. Allen was supported by just 2 percent of Democrats, an indication that the more likely of the two split-ticket scenarios is Kaine winning the Senate seat and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney carrying Virginia's 13 electoral votes.

Obama led by 4 points in the latest Washington Post poll.

Outside groups have targeted this race more than any other on the Senate landscape, expending $40 million so far, according to the Campaign Finance Institute. Kaine and Allen are running for the seat of retiring Sen. Jim Webb (D), and Roll Call rates the race as a Tossup.

The Washington Post poll of 1,228 likely voters was conducted Oct. 22-26 with a 3.5-point margin of error.