Issues important to women have been front and center on the national stage this election cycle with talk of birth control, the kinds of ultrasounds women would be required to get, and personhood amendments. And Virginia has been at the front and center of many of those debates.
A poll released Tuesday morning shows women are fueling President Barack Obama’s increased lead in the critical battleground.
The president is now up by eight points, 50-42 percent, over Mitt Romney in the state that could be key to whether Obama will be back for another four years in the White House, according to a Quinnipiac poll.
That’s up four points from a month ago and represents a 10-point shift from December, when Romney led 44-42 percent.
Even if Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is added to the ticket, the president still holds a commanding 50-43 percent lead.
"President Barack Obama has opened up some daylight in Virginia against his Republican challengers," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a press release.
The difference has been women. Obama leads Romney with women, 52-39 percent. In December, Romney led with them 45-43 percent, a whopping 15-point change.
The Obama campaign has made a concerted effort to reach out to women, using the benefits of the new health-care law, for example, in mailers in swing states.
The president’s approval rating in the state is 49-47 percent, the first time he has been a net-positive since Quinnipiac started polling Virginia for this cycle last June. Again, that’s driven by women, who approve of the president 52-43 percent.
With men and independents, though, the president is still a net-negative.
Kaine Leads Allen in Senate Race
The race for the U.S. Senate continues to be neck and neck, with former Gov. Tim Kaine leading former Sen. and Gov. George Allen by a narrow 47-44 percent. But that’s a five-point shift from December, when Allen led 44%-42%.
Women are also backing Kaine (49-40 percent) by a wider margin than men (43-46 percent). But not by quite as wide a margin as Obama.
And Kaine may have some room for improvement with black voters. African Americans backed Obama over Romney, 94-5 percent. Kaine got 83-6 percent, so more are undecided. But, as the election nears, Kaine stands to benefit from the president’s efforts in the state, especially with black voters, when he’s at the top of the ticket.
Virginia is a crucial Senate toss-up race that could determine control of the upper chamber. The open seat is currently held by retiring Democrat Jim Webb. Republicans need to take over three seats if President Obama loses re-election to win control, four if he wins.
Domenico Montanaro is an NBC News Political Reporter and an NBC News First Read analyst. Read the national edition of First Read featuring Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Domenico on msnbc.com.