Arlington, VA

Incumbent Rep. Jim Moran holds a 13 point lead over Republican challenger Patrick Murray, according to a poll of 400 likely voters commissioned by the Murray campaign.

The poll, conducted in mid-September, shows Moran with 45 percent of the likely vote compared to Murray’s 32 percent. Another 23 percent say they’re undecided.

In 2008, Moran defeated Republican candidate Mark Ellmore 68 percent to 30 percent.

Despite lagging in the poll, the Murray campaign cites Moran’s favorability ratings as evidence that he is vulnerable.

Asked how Moran is doing as a congressman, 42 percent gave a positive response, while 41 percent gave a negative response. Poll respondents had a 43 percent favorable opinion of Moran, and a 33 percent unfavorable opinion. By comparison, Moran’s favorable rating is roughly twice that of Sarah Palin and a few points below that of President Obama.

Asked about Patrick Murray, only 27 percent of respondents had an opinion or had heard of him. Among those respondents, 19 percent have a favorable opinion, while 8 percent hold an unfavorable opinion.

The poll, conducted by Alexandria-based McLaughlin and Associates, concludes that Moran is a “weak incumbent” who is “clearly vulnerable on issues of character.” To have a shot at winning, however, Murray must make an effort “to become as well known as Jim Moran over the next few weeks.”

Among the residents polled — all likely voters in Virginia’s 8th district — 36 percent said they were Democrats, 31 percent said they were Republicans and 30 percent identified themselves as independents.

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