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Afternoon Read: Poll Shows Romney Leading Obama in Virginia

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Doomsday Budget Could Cause Big Cuts in Maryland

The Maryland General Assembly failed to pass a budget before adjourning Monday night in Annapolis. Chris Gordon explains what this could mean for local counties.
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The latest Roanoke College poll shows Mitt Romney gaining momentum in Virginia, leading President Barack Obama by six percentage points in the swing-state.

The two were statistically tied in the college's February poll.

Despite the 46-40 percent lead, the poll found that Romney faces a clear enthusiasm gap. Romney supporters are less likely to say they are very certain they will vote for him—72 percent vs. 81 percent among Obama voters—and are only half as likely to say they enthusiastic about their votes—31 percent to 62 percent. Romney voters are three times as likely to say they are not enthusiastic—22 percent to 7 percent.

This enthusiasm gap could translate into dollars for Obama. The poll found that Obama supporters are more likely to say they would contribute money to the campaign—49 percent vs. 20 percent among Romney voters.

"While Mitt Romney fares well in the top-line numbers of this poll, looking beneath the surface suggests that his position is somewhat precarious," said Harry Wilson, director of the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research, in a press release. "The commitment of his supporters lags significantly behind the commitment of President Obama's supporters in several areas. While his lead over Obama has widened in a month, his favorable/unfavorable numbers and the fact that Virginians think Obama better understands their needs do not bode well for the likely Republican nominee."

In the much-anticipated Virginia Senate race, Republican George Allen still has an edge over Democrat Tim Kaine (46 percent to 35 percent). His lead is the same as it was in February.

Allen leads among political Independents 42 to 35 percent, but trails Kaine among ideological moderates 46 to 35 percent. There are more self-identified conservatives than liberals in Virginia, but Kaine does slightly better at getting support from liberals (78%) than Allen does among conservatives (71%).

"The results of this poll indicate a very high level of dissatisfaction on the part of Virginians. Approval of Obama, McDonnell and Congress are all down slightly, and perceptions of the state and the country have declined as well. Both Presidential candidates have higher unfavorable than favorable ratings. Virginians are a disgruntled group right now."
 

* Gov. Bob McDonnell is headed to New York and Canada for an economic development trip to promote Virginia’s wine, film and tourism.

The governor is leading a group of 18 people from his administration and other state economic organizations, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The trip runs today through Friday and is expected to cost the state more than $140,000, a McDonnell spokesperson told the RTD.

McDonnell will also meet with representatives from the aerospace, IT and advanced manufacturing and energy industries.

* After passing an incomplete budget with severe budget cuts, both Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Thomas Mike Miller agreed Tuesday that a special session is needed to fix the budget.

But, according to The Baltimore Sun, Gov. Martin O’Malley—the person who could call such a session—has remained “publically noncommittal” about his thoughts on the session.

The three men gathered Tuesday morning to sign a bill, at which point O’Malley said the legislature’s failure to budget for public schools and higher education was “really a damn shame” and that the budget “was pretty much the low point in my experience here.”

The Baltimore Sun wrote that the governor did hint that he would eventually call a special session.

Read more here.

* The Baltimore Sun editorial board had harsh words for the state lawmakers, writing that the debate over expanded gambling tangled up a sensible compromise on taxes and spending.

It wouldn't be right to call the calamitous end of the General Assembly session a failure. The word "failure" implies that those involved were trying to do the right thing and were for some reason unsuccessful. What happened Monday night, as the politics of an ill-considered gambling expansion bill tangled up a sensible compromise on taxes and the budget, was something quite different, a mixture of sabotage, negligence and too-cute-by-half gamesmanship. It reflects poorly on Maryland's leaders and belies the seriousness of the one real matter at hand: Who should be asked to pay more to maintain crucial state services, and how much? Gov.Martin O'Malley, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch need to bring the legislature back for a special session to resolve that issue, and they need to get it right this time.

* Virginia legislators say that Gov. Bob McDonnell wants the General Assembly to amend bills to make it slightly easier for those trying to vote on Election Day and allow localities to spread costs of pension changes over five years, according to The Washington Post.

The Post reports that as of noon Tuesday, McDonnell had still not released a promised comprehensive list of proposed bill amendments and signatures.

State lawmakers will head to Richmond April 18 to consider McDonnell’s amendments and vetoes. As of Tuesday morning, according to The Post, the governor had vetoed seven bills.

Read more here.

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