Tom Perriello is tied with Republican frontrunner Robert Hurt at 44% each. Former Congressman Virgil Goode has hinted he may run as an independent if the GOP doesn’t nominate someone sufficiently conservative. In that instance Perriello and Goode tie at 41% with Hurt getting just 12%.
Perriello leads the rest of the GOP field in head to head contests. He has a 46-42 advantage over Ken Boyd, a 45-37 one over Jim McKelvey, a 45-36 edge over Michael McPadden, and a 44-34 one over Laurence Verga.
Normally, being tied with your likely challenger and polling below 50% is not great news for an incumbent, but right now is a very bad time in the polls for Democrats nationally.
Virginia's 5th leans Republican with a PVI of R+5. Perriello won the district by only a few hundred votes, swept into office in what was a very good year for Democrats in Virginia. He has also been heavily attacked for his vote in support of cap and trade, the stimulus bill, and health care reform.
All year, Perriello has been seen as one of the Democrats most likely to face an uphill battle for reelection. The fact that the district is still competitive at this point, even as Democrats are collapsing in the generic ballot, is a relatively good sign for Perriello. It appears that Perriello is strongly outperforming most of his party, which he will need to do to keep a tough seat in what is shaping up to be a very good year for Republicans. Whether Perriello can be one of the Democrats in competitive districts to outperform his party enough to actually survive the Republican swing is an open question.