Republican Bob McDonnell is just days away from a decisive win over Democrat Creigh Deeds in the Virginia gubernatorial race, according to a poll released today by Suffolk University. McDonnell led Deeds 54 percent to 40 percent, with 5 percent undecided.

Overall 84 percent of Virginia voters said their minds were made up, while 15 percent said they might change their minds before the election. McDonnell was chosen as the candidate with a better plan to deal with the transportation issue (41 percent, as opposed to Deeds' 26 percent). Voters polled said McDonnell was more trustworthy (47 percent) than Deeds (36 percent) and that Deeds' campaign has been more negative in tone (43 percent, compared to McDonnell's 22 percent).

Asked whether Deeds has flip-flopped on the issue of taxes, 43 percent said he had.

GOP strong in statewide races

“All of the statistical indicators are in place for a decisive Republican win," said David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Suffolk University in Boston. "And it won't stop in the governor's office -- it looks like the GOP will win all the statewide offices on the ballot."

In the lieutenant governor's fight, Republican Bill Bowling led Democrat Jody Wagner 48 percent to 34 percent, while Republican attorney general nominee Ken Cuccinelli led Democrat Stephen Shannon by the exact same margin. The percentage of undecided voters in these races (18 percent) was much higher than for the governor's race.

Economy key issue

Economy/jobs (32 percent) and health care (22 percent) were the most important issues to likely voters, followed by taxes (16 percent), education (14 percent) and transportation (11 percent).

Voters were split about how to deal with the issues of transportation and health care, with young and old at opposite ends.

Overall, 45 percent of voters supported an increase in state taxes to pay for new road and transit projects, while 47 percent opposed. However, among respondents 18-55 years of age, increased taxes for transit was supported by a 54 percent-to-39 percent margin, while among those over 55 years of age a tax increase was rejected 54 percent to 38 percent.

Similarly, 44 percent said that government reform is necessary to control health care costs and expand coverage, while 48 percent said that government action on health care will do more harm than good. Yet in the 18-to-55 demographic, health care reform prevailed 53 percent to 40 percent, while Virginians over 55 viewed government action as more harmful than good by a 54 percent-to-36 percent margin.

Offshore oil drilling

Sixty-nine percent of respondents thought the federal government should approve offshore oil drilling, while 20 percent opposed, and 11 percent were undecided.

Bellwether

The 2009 Virginia bellwether of Henrico County showed McDonnell leading Deeds 48 percent to 34 percent, consistent with the statewide margin of 14 points. Bellwether samples, which supplement the Suffolk statewide polls, are designed to predict outcomes -- not margins.

Methodology

The Suffolk University statewide poll was conducted Oct. 26 through Oct. 28, 2009, using live interviewers. The margin of error on the study of 400 is +/- 5 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. All respondents from the Virginia statewide survey were likely voters. Separate from the statewide study, there were 250 respondents identified from Henrico County on Oct. 27 and 28. Statewide marginals and 140 pages of cross-tabulation data are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, dpaleolo@suffolk.edu.